L.A. Can't Drive » Sweeping Right Turns – an L.A. Phenomenon?

Sweeping Right Turns – an L.A. Phenomenon?

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So I was chatting with Marc Germain andL isa Goich today on The Marc “Mr. K” Germain Show today on Progressive Talk AM1150, and a caller asked why so many drivers in Los Angeles make such wide right turns, which happens to be a pet peeve of Lisa’s. This made me smile because I just got this e-mail the other day from a Minnesota transplant:

“Why do LA drivers make such wide right turns? This seems to only exist here, at least based on all the places I’ve driven in. What I mean is, when you are behind a car and it is going to turn right on red (with or without a lane for right turns), the car always makes the widest turn possible so that [other cars already going in that direction] have to either stop or slow down. It’s so dangerous and annoying. Why do LA drivers do this?”

In all fairness, I’ve seen a lot of drivers do this in cities like Atlanta, D.C., and Boston. New York City avoids this particular problem because you can’t make right turns on red lights. With that said, it’s still important to note that in California, both the approach for a right-hand turn and the right turn itself shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. Obviously, they’re not recommending that we plow into parked vehicles, if there are any in the right-most curb lane. There are 3 exceptions to this rule (v.c.22100), such as turning from a one-way street or following signs and lane markings. But for the most part, I see drivers making illegal sweeping right turns more often than not in order to make a quick left turn onto another street. And let’s admit it: most of us are guilty of doing this at one time or another. With that said, I personally have never done a sweeping right turn directly in front of traffic moving in that direction of travel, forcing cars to rapidly slow down or stop. In rear-end cases such as this, you are liable for making that sweeping right turn, unless the other vehicle was traveling “at an unsafe speed for the conditions”.

The bigger problem in my eyes is the lack of respect for right of way; people who merge need to yield to traffic already moving in that direction. If we phrase it like that, it’s no wonder we see so many drivers here who lack merging skills, whether it be with right turns or merging onto freeways.

In other cases, you have a nutter like this one driving this black sedan (I forgot the make and model of the car). This idiot was flying down Beverly and made a tire-skidding, sweeping right turn on red at about 25 mph, forcing us to slow down so that we wouldn’t rear-end his ass. Sweeping right turn aside, you’re legally supposed to come to a complete stop before the limit line before making a right turn on red. Though, most of us just slow down to a crawl before turning, note that intersections armed with red light camera radar equipment will take your photo if you do not come to a complete stop before the limit line before turning, even if you’re traveling at 1/4 mph. With that said, you don’t need the nuances of the law to tell that pencil d*ck blatantly ran a red light. Was he drunk behind the wheel? My guess is yes.

9 Responses to “Sweeping Right Turns – an L.A. Phenomenon?”

  1. A few days ago I asked how to send a photo or video to you but, I didn’t see an email to send it to. Where should I send to?

  2. Hey, sorry about that. You can email things to photo@lacantdrive.com. Looking forward to the submissions!

  3. Merging. Heh. Something SoCal drivers are wholly incapable of doing well. I used to blame the design of the freeway merge lanes (which are mostly non-existent or ridiculously short). However, I’m not sure that explains it entirely. A contributing factor, sure, but not a complete justification for the poor excuse for merging that I witnessed when I lived in SoCal. It gives me the chills to imagine what the rest of the answer may be.

  4. I listened while you were on Mr. K’s show and you have lots of valid points. I also agree that drivers should be required to retest every 6 years. I am a native Californian, born and reaised in Santa Monica. I have a hugh problem with all of the transplants from other countries and states that come here and bitch about California! Residence is taken and for the most part they are the ones who are not able to drive on our highways and bi-ways.



  5. So… if I’m in the leftmost lane of a 4-lane street, and a car from a perpendicular street atte,t a right handed turn in order to go the same direction I am, and if said driver makes a w i d e r i g h t t u r n into my lane… can I plow into them without legal impunity?

    Though, I’m kidding… it might just be the only way to cure “bad driving” in L.A.

  6. Kai, glad you heard the radio program. I’m getting a podcast of it soon and will upload it to the site for others who missed it. I do think it’s important to note that America as a country has more immigrants than any other nation, and immigrants aside, you rarely have a city where all the denizens are born and raised natives. With that said, some cities here cope better than others with maintaining safer driving standards despite the mix of locals, non-locals, and immigrants. The bigger problem is that it’s just way too easy to acquire and keep a driver’s license. This is a resounding theme I’ve been hearing from a lot of international transplants and other international readers.

    Rod, I know you were joking, but you bring up a good point where you could be doing everything right (short of intentionally rear-ending someone), yet you still get screwed by an irresponsible driver. I do part-time insurance adjusting work, and I’ve encountered instances of drivers traveling at or below the speed limit when someone else attempted to merge with a wide, sweeping right turn. If the driver on the merging road was traveling at or below the speed limit, sometimes the other party was at fault. However, more often than not, there are instances of comparative liability, and cops have been known to still cite the “rear-ender” for speeding (ie. traveling at an unsafe speed for the conditions), while citing the other driver who made the sweeping right turn (usually for making an unsafe lane change or not yielding to traffic that had the right of way). Technicalities aside, defensive driving will avoid the headaches of having to deal with insurance claims, even if you’re 100% not at fault.

  7. I’m the guy from MN who emailed you about the right hand turns. Thanks for responding. It helps me not so mad about these right hand turns because I know others see them to. In Minnesota, you just don’t drive like that. It’s common sense, which seems to be lacking here in LA. I’ve got to get out of here soon!

  8. Something else I have never seen before coming to the LA area is the making the right hand turn and STOPPING at the apex of the turn for no reason. So I asked a lifelong LA resident about it. The answer given was “pedestrians will walk right out in front of your car so you better tap your breaks or stop completely to look again for them.” Wha???? Then it happened to me. I was making a right turn into the righthand most lane (no sweeping right hand turns for me, thank you very much) and was almost across the crosswalk when a pedestrian skateboarded right out in front of my car. He was crossing against the light and had been several yards from the curb when I started my turn. Thank god I was going slowly!!! I braked with inches to spare and shook with adreneline while the idiot continued on his way. I did yell out my window to his disappearing back that Tony Hawk would disapprove, but I don’t think I was heard.

  9. Some of those are made necessary because some cars don’t have a tight turning radius. This, combined with small corner radii force some cars to do this. My Bonneville has this problem

    Then the gooney birds see this and think people are doing it on purpose, so they do it on purpose.

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