A U-turn is turning your vehicle around in the street to go back the way you came. To make a U-turn, signal and use the far left lane or the center left turn lane. You may make a legal U-turn:

  • Across a double yellow line when it is safe and legal.
  • In a residential district:
  • If there are no vehicles approaching you within 200 feet.
  • Whenever a traffic sign, light, or signal protects you from approaching vehicles.
  • At an intersection on a green light or green arrow, unless a "No Uturn" sign is posted.
  • On a divided highway, only if an opening is provided in the center divider.


  • The highlighted sentence has already been "simplified" more than I'm entirely comfortable with. It's from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, so I suppose it's "official", but I really do think that usage of protects is stretching things a bit. Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 14:46
  • @FumbleFingers no one is saying that a stop light will take a bullet for you, but this is common usage. For instance, a green left-turn-arrow (with oncoming traffic stopped by a red light) is called a "protected left turn".
    – Tiercelet
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 14:57
  • @Tiercelet: And I'm not saying the California DMV is staffed by illiterates. But my guess is you probably wouldn't get such phrasing in the British Highway Code, even though it's highly desirable in terms of brevity. I can't see any easy way to express exactly the same thing so succinctly without (as I see it) "stretching" the acceptable use of protects a bit. Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 15:18

2 Answers 2


As an example, imagine you a approaching a stop light at a crossroads. The stop lights work in such a way that traffic can only flow one way a time. Your light turns green. That means there will be no traffic on the other side of the road while the light remains green.

Therefore you are protected from those vehicles by the stop lights, which for them is red, preventing them moving.


I don't think the bold sentence has any superfluous elements in it and therefore does not need to be simplified.

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