Turning Right At Green Lights – Comprehensive Tutorial

Turning Right on a Green Light – Beautiful BC, Canada

Turning right at a green light is another one of those important skills that learners and new drivers must practice to get really good at. Let’s break this down and discuss some of the most common sources of confusion for new drivers and all drivers. You can also read our epic left-turning tutorial.

Contents:

  1. Who Has the Right-of-Way?
  2. Do You Have to Stop at a Green Light When Turning Right?
  3. Can You Turn Right on a Green Light Without an Arrow?
  4. Know Who You Are Yielding To
  5. Pay Attention To Your Vehicle Positioning
  6. Watch For Pedestrians
  7. More on Pedestrians
  8. The Oncoming Left-Turning Vehicle(s)
  9. Dealing With Multiple Lanes
  10. Which Lane Should You Turn Into?
  11. When The Light Turns Yellow
  12. Right Turn On Green Light with Yield Sign
  13. You May Need to Yield to a Left-Turning Vehicle
  14. Turning Left After Right at Yield Sign
  15. Spotted: Baby on Board (totally random)
  16. Conclusion

BC Motor Vehicle Act – Right Turns at Green Traffic Lights

Turning at intersections

165   (1)If the driver of a vehicle intends to turn it to the right at an intersection, the driver must cause it to approach the intersection and then make the turn as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

Green light

127   (1)When a green light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal,

(a) the driver of a vehicle facing the green light

i). may cause the vehicle to proceed straight through the intersection, or to turn left or right, subject to a sign or signal prohibiting a left or right turn, or both, or designating the turning movement permitted,

(ii) must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or in an adjacent crosswalk at the time the green light is exhibited, and

(iii). must yield the right of way to vehicles lawfully in the intersection at the time the green light became exhibited, and

(b). a pedestrian facing the green light may proceed across the roadway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, subject to special pedestrian traffic control signals directing him or her otherwise, and has the right of way for that purpose over all vehicles.

Beautiful British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act Opens in a new tab.

Wondering who has the right-of-way when turning right on a green light? Nobody really ‘has the right-of-way.’ Rather, certain road users should yield to others. But in theory, and generally speaking here:

  • Pedestrians may proceed across the crosswalk when they have the “walk” signal
  • Right-turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Left-turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians, cyclists, and right-turning vehicles

Do You Have To Stop At a Green Light When Turning Right?

No, please don’t stop at a green light when you’re turning right unless you’re yielding to pedestrians and/or cyclists. If there are left-turning vehicles in the intersection, they are supposed to be yielding to you. If there are no pedestrians and/or cyclists to yield to, then slow to around 20 km/hr, shoulder check, and simply turn.

Can You Turn Right On a Green Light Without An Arrow?

  • Yes, you can. If you’re facing a green light, the green light means go, just yield to pedestrians and/or cyclists
  • Arrows are an optional traffic control device, used for some intersections, but not all

Turning Right on a Green Light – Know Who You Are Yielding To

Do you have to yield when turning right on the green?

In theory, when you are turning right on a green light, the only other road users you normally need to yield to are pedestrians and cyclists.

Yielding to the left-turning vehicle sometimes

Of course, you may need to yield to someone or something else – such as a left-turning vehicle, if it has already turned and is subsequently in your way or if you’re clearly about to

Drivers who are turning left are supposed to yield to drivers who are turning right in this situation. But of course, in the real world, things may be different, and it’s good to get ready for this.

That’s why it’s the only safe way to think, “that car is supposed to yield“…

… Rather than, “I have the right of way.” Not trying to be dramatic, but the difference between these two ideas may be the difference between a crash or a peaceful drive.

If the other car doesn’t yield

If they don’t yield, then you don’t have the right of way. If no one gave me birthday-cake-flavored Timbits for my birthday, then I don’t have them. Oh, maybe that’s a little different. But anyway, you can read more about the right-of-way rules here.

Pay Attention To Your Vehicle Positioning When Turning Right on a Green Light

Get your vehicle closer to the curb

Whenever possible, try to move your vehicle closer to the curb before the right turn so that vehicles behind you can possibly fit by in case you do stop for pedestrians.

Mirror checks, shoulder checks

Before you move over, use a right-mirror check and a right-shoulder check to ensure there are no bikes or anything else that you would be potentially in conflict within your blind spot.

If there are no pedestrians and any left-turning vehicle is clearly yielding, then simply turn.

turning right on a green light

Turning Right on a Green Light – Watch For Pedestrians

If you do see pedestrians crossing…

If you see pedestrians, move forward into the intersection a bit in order to line up your vehicle with where you are about to turn.

Don’t stop behind the white stopping line

In other words, do not wait behind the stopping line as you would if your light were red. You do want to pull forward as long as there’s no other right-turning vehicle in front of you.

There are two reasons for this:

  • It clearly tells the driver of any left-turning car that you are seriously getting ready to turn right, and you are merely waiting for the pedestrians
  • If you wait behind the white stopping line, the driver may think that you want him/her to go first, because it looks like you’re leaving an insanely large amount of space in front of you for no reason

Keep in mind, there should be no pedestrians walking on the perpendicular crosswalk; so it’s fine to block it; in fact, you kind of have no choice in most cases.

The other reason has to do with the traffic light

If you move forward into the intersection, wait for slow or many pedestrians, and then the light goes yellow, then you’re still allowed – and you should – exit the intersection after the pedestrians, but before any left-turning vehicle.

If the left-turn vehicle doesn’t yield

Again, that’s how it’s supposed to go in theory, which is nice. Sometimes, the left-turning vehicle may try to go first and you do need to keep an eye on that. If they don’t yield to you, simply let them go first and then turn after them. Life doesn’t always go as we plan. But it can go two seconds after that, which is no big deal really.

More Details On Pedestrians When Turning Right on a Green Light

How much time/space to give pedestrians?

Give the pedestrians some extra time before you turn. When can I turn after waiting for pedestrians?

You don’t have to necessarily wait until they’ve walked completely across the entire crosswalk. In certain intersections, that might mean waiting for them to walk past multiple lanes, which may seem silly.

Usually, you should wait until they’re at least past the yellow line if they’re walking away from you, or until they actually step onto the sidewalk if they’re walking toward you.

Do another quick shoulder check before you turn to make sure there are no more pedestrians about to walk.

turning right and left
intersection right turns

That Oncoming Left-Turning Vehicle when Turning Right on a Green Light

Do keep an eye on the left-turning vehicle.

The driver doing a left turn is supposed to be yielding to you. However, this doesn’t mean that they will.

If it turns when it shouldn’t, then simply let it go. Let it go first, like, literally, but also if you’re the type who holds a grudge; it’s just not good for you! Let it go first and go after it. Simple.

We are staying alive here, and getting to our destination in one piece, not proving a point about right and wrong. Humans are imperfect and that’s a fact.

Dealing With Multiple Lanes when Turning Right on a Green Light

Double left turning lanes

If there are two lanes, then avoid turning at the exact same time as the left-turning vehicle.

You need some extra space Opens in a new tab.around your vehicle at all times and turning at the same time robs you of this safety cushion. It is part of being a safe, defensive driver.

Try to time it so you turn before it or after it, but not simultaneously.

turning right into correct lane

Which Lane Should You Turn Into?

Turn into the ‘proper’ lane

Legally when you turn right, you’re required to turn into the right lane; and the driver of any left-turning vehicle is required to turn into the left lane.

Lane changes after turning

However, if after you turn there are no vehicles in the other lane, you can quickly change your turn signal to a left signal and make sure it is safe and do a lane change into the left lane fairly quickly.

This is perfectly legal as long as:

  1. You are not crossing a solid white line and
  2. It is safe (duh)
  3. Your left-turn signal is flashing
how to turn right

Turning Right on a Green Light – When The Light Turns Yellow

If you’re approaching the intersection for the right turn and the traffic light goes yellow, you are legally required to stop your automobile behind the white line and yield to others, unless it is not safe to stop (point of no return).

See Right Turns on Red Lights for more info. Traffic lights legally control traffic that is approaching intersections; not traffic that has already entered.

Turning Right on a Green Light With Yield Sign

intersection yield sign right turn

If you’re turning right at a yield sign at an intersection that also has a green light, remember that the traffic control device you need to follow is the yield sign.

Green light offers clues

The green light just happens to be there. It can give you clues.

Use the green light to tell you where the relevant traffic might be coming from, and who you may need to yield to. Turn on your right signal, as this is still just a right turn, right?

If The Light Is Green, You May Need To Yield To A Left-Turning Vehicle

left turn vehicle
You can’t assume that the left-turning car will stay in it’s own lane. Wait to be safe. You are the one facing the yield sign so you must yield anytime there will be a potential conflict.

Turning Left After Turning Right At The Yield Sign?

If you’re needing to turn left soon, then simply yield to both lanes of traffic. Then, switch your signal to a left signal and continue into the left lane. Remember shoulder checks for lane changes.

ntersection right left turn

Spotted: Baby On Board (Literally)

photo-11

Omg, I know how to use the word “Literally.” I know, it’s random, isn’t it? It’s funny the things you see when you drive around a lot.

Conclusion – Turning Right on a Green Light

Turning right on a green light is another necessary skill for all drivers to have. It’s generally a much safer option when compared to turning left at a traffic light.

This is because right turns merely turn across a pedestrian and cyclist path, whereas left turns turn across those, as well as oncoming traffic.

And the thing about the oncoming traffic is:

  • It’s dangerous
  • It’s unpredictable
  • Drivers are often speeding, and this can be hard to judge
  • You can’t trust the turn signals; you aren’t sure where the cars are actually going to go or turn

Sometimes left turns can not be avoided, but sometimes they can by turning right 3 times and driving in a circle (I mean square).

Practicing your right turns at many different intersections gives you the best possible experience. Always remember to do one and possibly two shoulder checks for these and other right turns, depending on if you’re changing the positioning of your vehicle and/or stopping before your right turn.

This is, of course, to check your blind spot, and blind spot mirrorsOpens in a new tab. can help to reduce surprises. Read more about right turns without stop signs.

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Carmen

Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada and is an experienced writer, blogger, photographer, artist, philosopher, certified day dreamer and generally complicated human.

37 thoughts on “Turning Right At Green Lights – Comprehensive Tutorial

  1. Thank you for this information! I’m doing my class 5 test in Vancouver tomorrow and I ran into a right turn scenario yesterday that I don’t really know the answer to…
    If you are wanting to turn right and notice that there is a bus stop in the very right lane and a bus is currently stopped there, are you allowed to turn into the next lane? This was a two-lane street and the bus was just about a car-length away from the intersection.

    Also, what if the very right lane becomes available for meter parking after rush hour? Are you able to turn into the next lane if there is a car parked in the spot closest to the curb? What if there wasn’t a car parked there but further up?

    1. I really wish you would have answered this question Carmen. I have the same question and I have my road test tomorrow and I can’t find the answer anywhere!

  2. Great info Carmen, thank you so much for sharing.

    I have a question and thought may be you can help clarifying it for me if you can/wouldn’t mind. I searched but couldn’t find it.

    It’s about turning right from a four-laned two-way street(stem of T intersection) into another four-laned two-way street (bottom of T-intersection)

    Since there is no opposing traffic, there will be no left-turning vehicles going towards the lane left of the right curb lane.

    I am waiting on the left for the thru traffic to pass. Can I turn right to the left lane (as if I were waiting on that second designated right turn lane commly found on 3-laned one-way streets like highway exits)

    Perhaps an image can clarify it better. If needed, and there is a way to upload it or email it, please let me know

    Thank you

  3. This is inaccurate information… in the state of California, you are allowed to turn into any available lane, left or right; therefore, this information of a left hand driver being able to turn into the left lane while a driver is turning into the right lane on green is wrong. It’s reckless not to mention the States which allow this on your site because it’s causing a lot of people to come close to causing accidents… I’ve been in several near misses myself with left turners thinking they can turn at the same time I do on right with a green light. Right turners have the right of way and by law in CA (and I think 5 other states) can turn into any available lane. Please update this information on your site to be accurate.

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