Who has right-of-way at turns?

Repeatedly, I am asked about the right-of-way regarding lane use by the hospital and the Duck Park in Alpena, and then at the intersection of Bagley Street and M-32.

The question usually starts with something along the lines of, “When the light is a green arrow for the center turn lane on the south side of Bagley Street, and I am in the turn lane to head west on M-32 from the north side of Bagley Street, I am not able to do this because the driver from southbound Bagley Street always cuts all the way over the right-hand outside lane. If I was to be making my legal turn, I would get hit. So … who has the right-of-way to that outside lane?”

I will admit that is a violation I see often both on duty and off duty.

While on duty, it always seems that I am out of position, being boxed in across the light, or there are just too many cars behind the violator to catch up.

MCL 257.647 discusses “Turning at intersections.” That section of the Motor Vehicle Codes states: “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows: (a) … for a right turn a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway; (b) Approach for a left turn shall be made in the … right half of the roadway nearest the center line …”

From the wording of the above statute, that would mean that, as you make your turn, whether it be a right or left turn you are required to take the closest available lane, not the lane of your choice that will make your turn into a business up the road easier. And not the opposite lane because you are unable to make the tight corner.

You are to take the lane closest to the curb for the right turn and the lane closest to the center line for a left turn.

By taking the proper lane, that then allows drivers coming from the opposite direction to take the other lane they legally have the right to.

Should an officer observe a driver in violation of that statute, the driver could be responsible for a civil infraction with fines and costs up to $150.

Ashley Simpson is the community service trooper for the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at asktroopersimpson@gmail.com or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave., Alpena, Michigan, 49707.


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