Drive Smart columnist Tim Schewe.

Drivesmart column: Do you know where you can make a U-turn?

U-turns are forbidden in a business district

By Tim Schewe

I never know what I am going to receive in my email regarding this column. Recently it was a tongue-in-cheek request to save a marriage by settling the question about U-turns between husband and wife. Neither one of them realized that there are really very few places in British Columbia where a driver can make a U-turn legally.

The Law

Section 168 MVA regulates making a U-Turn, also known as a reverse turn.

Lined Roadway

First of all, if there is any type of line painted down the centre of the highway one must not make a U-turn over it. It doesn’t matter if it is double solid, single solid, solid and broken or a single broken line. Only the complete absence of a line allows the manoeuvre, subject to other limitations.

Section 155 MVA regulates crossing lines painted on the road and in general only allows crossing them to pass another vehicle or in some cases to avoid and obstruction.

Limited Visibility

Next, a U-turn must not be made where visibility is limited or it would be unsafe to do so. This would include places like on a curve or at the approach to a hillcrest.

Business Districts

U-turns are forbidden in a business district unless the turn is made at an intersection without traffic lights. However, the general prohibition of a U-turn at any intersection with traffic lights doesn’t apply if there is a sign posted by the municipality permitting the action.

“business district” means the territory contiguous to a portion of a highway having a length of 200 m along which there are buildings used for business, industrial or public purposes occupying

(a) at least 100 m of frontage on one side of that portion, or

(b) at least 100 m collectively on both sides of that portion,

and includes that portion of the highway;

Municipalities

Finally, we’ve mentioned municipalities, and they are allowed to regulate U-turns within their boundaries through a bylaw. These bylaws can range from what has been outlined here to a total prohibition. This just adds to the difficulty because bylaws change from municipality to municipality.

Page 52 of Learn to Drive Smart says:

“business district” means the territory contiguous to a portion of a highway having a length of 200 m along which there are buildings used for business, industrial or public purposes occupying

(a) at least 100 m of frontage on one side of that portion, or

(b) at least 100 m collectively on both sides of that portion,

and includes that portion of the highway;

Where Can You Make a U-Turn?

Everywhere else, as long as it is safe!

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

Column