To Turn or Not to Turn? Please settle this dilemma, Left on green

Discussion in 'Trucking Schools and CDL Training Forum' started by SmokeyBandit, Oct 22, 2022.

  1. gentleroger

    gentleroger Road Train Member

    Jun 1, 2010
    On the CDL test, you wait behind the white line until you are SURE you will be able to initiate AND finish the turn before the light turns red. Otherwise you WILL be dinged for impeding traffic or running the red if the tester is a real SoAndSo.

    It takes a minimum of 12 seconds to make a left hand turn in a big truck, average time is 17 seconds. I personally haven't timed it, but a buddy didn't believe the safety critter so he started timing guys on road tests and found the 17 second average time pretty spot on.

    When I was growing up my Dad would joke "there's the right way, the wrong way, the Army way, and the way it gets done". Your instructors are trying to prepare you for both the test and the real world. It would be nice if the test reflected the real world, it would also be nice if my barber worked past 12:00 on Saturdays but there ya have it. In the real world you make a decision based on the circumstances you're in. Are you entering as the light turns green or on a stale green? How heavy is oncoming traffic? How tight is the turn? You take all the factors and make a judgement call. With my trainees, as long as they make a decision I'll generally praise "You made a decision, but in that situation I would have done XXXX instead because of Y, Z, R".

    On a CDL test, yes. In any other circumstance, plant yourself in the center and show everyone your intentions.

    Yes, there are a bunch of things that I couldn't care less about but I make a big deal over because it bleeds over into other areas that I do care about.

    There are things we do when being tested that we would not do in normal circumstances. During TE recert this year I was the BIGGEST RICHARD - I over exaggerated on all of the piddly little BS like shouting 'clear' before lifting or dropping the hood. When I wish, I can make myself heard across the entire yard - I once shouted "STOP" at a trainee loud enough that the forklift guys inside the building all panic stopped and their foreman came out to see what was wrong. Do you really need to shout clear before lifting the hood? No, but you do need to be aware of people and vehicles moving around you as you do things. Forcing trainees to shout clear helps make them think about it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2022
    Reason for edit: Fixed quote
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  3. LtlAnonymous

    LtlAnonymous Road Train Member

    Dec 23, 2016
    This is coming from an hourly employee, but...I wait at the line. If I see a PERFECT opportunity coming in the traffic pattern, I will start to slow-roll forward and initiate the turn when appropriate. Otherwise? We sittin at the light, and people behind me can wait.

    I only enter the intersection when I'm absolutely certain I can make it. Not 97%. 100.
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  4. MACK E-6

    MACK E-6 Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    I “claim” the intersection as you said, then turn when the light changes and traffic stops. My understanding is as long you enter the intersection before the light turns red, then you didn’t officially run the red light.

    Besides, the people behind you in the turn will certainly appreciate not bring being behind a truck for another light cycle.
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  5. Rideandrepair

    Rideandrepair Road Train Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    I imagine sitting through a perfectly good green light would qualify as impeding traffic. Claim the intersection, turn when it safe and clear. Green, yellow, or red, doesn’t matter, you have the right of way period.
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  6. gentleroger

    gentleroger Road Train Member

    Jun 1, 2010
    In regards to a cdl test, it is almost impossible to impede traffic behind you as you have "right of way" over them. Impeding is generally defined as denying someone else their right of way.

    The cdl school I went to had one instructor who was part of creating the cdl test (he was also a founding member of the ptdi). He said that "impedeing" being an auto fail was one of the dumber things they created.
    Rideandrepair and Bean Jr. Thank this.
  7. Grumppy

    Grumppy Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    Dec 11, 2010
    West Monroe, La
    There are so many points made in this thread.... facts, opinions & guess work. I can only provide the same.
    When I was an aux deputy sheriff in the 1980's, my understanding of the law was:
    Yellow lights indicate "caution". You can travel through a yellow light. Yellow does not mean stop. It means use caution. Red means stop. You can not proceed through the intersection on a red light. Again, my interpretation of the law was that if your view of the traffic signal was yellow, you could proceed through the intersection. On the flip side. If while traveling through the intersection, if the light turns red while the traffic signal is within your view, you just ran a red light.
    However, in something like 2010, I was pulling a cargo trailer with my pickup truck. Just as I started through the intersection, the light changed to yellow. Before my truck & trailer cleared the traffic signal, apparently the light turned to red. A cop stopped me & he said I ran the red light. We respectfully had a discussion. He said if your complete vehicle has not cleared the traffic signal when it turns red, that is "running a red light". I disagree but he was the cop & if that's his interpretation of the law, then he can write the ticket. I can get a ruling from the judge when I go to court... his opinion. (FYI, he did not give me a ticket)

    So, in my opinion, if you're at a traffic light, intersection, stop sign etc & want to turn left, the basic rule is, you can not "take over" someone else's travel lane. No different from merging on to the hwy from an on ramp. You MUST YEILD THE RIGHT OF WAY TO ANOTHER PERSONS LANE OF TRAVEL. When merging or turning or whatever the situation is, you must yield to the traffic already occupying the lane you plan to enter.
    If you're at a traffic light & you can see the traffic signal, if the light is yellow, you can enter the intersection & attempt your turn. BUT...... if that light turns red before the traffic signal is beyond your view (If you can still see it), you just ran a red light.

    Impeding traffic:
    If you're sitting at a traffic signal, while green, waiting for the opposing traffic to clear enough to make your turn... you are NOT impeding traffic.
    Another vehicle can not force you to violate a law.
    1) you can not take over another persons lane of travel.
    2) you cant run a red light
    If you are waiting on the light to turn... if you are waiting for traffic to clear, you are within your rights to sit there until it is legal & safe for you to proceed.
    Impeding traffic is when your sitting in the road/travel lane... blocking or holding up traffic for no apparent reason.
    Impeding traffic is when your going 10 mph in a 70 mph zone.

    Now, realistically. If I am at a difficult intersection, and if the light is green, if it is safe to do so, I will pull into the intersection, under the traffic signal, block the intersection from the cross traffic & when I get a break... (even if its after the light turns red for my lane of travel).... then I complete my turn.
    Is this legal? Not in my opinion. Why? Because its not legal to enter the intersection unless you can complete your turn. You remember the white line painted across your lane before you entered the intersection? That is the line that indicates where you're supposed to stop prior to making your turn. That white line aint there for decoration. Its there to show where you're suppose to stop & wait until its your turn to enter the intersection ... to make & complete your turn.
    Just FYI, if you're sitting in the intersection, and the light turns red for you & it becomes green for the cross traffic... If you are blocking cross traffic from traveling through the intersection... you are now, again, impeding traffic... in a legal sense. You cant block someone else's lane of traffic. If yours is red & theirs is green, they have the right of way at that point, you're blocking their lane of travel... hence, impeding traffic. Will you ever get a ticket for this? Not likely. If there is an accident, you'll most likely be charged with running a red light... Not impeding traffic by blocking the opposing lane of travel.

    So, IMO, to answer your question. Legally, you have to wait until the traffic clears, the light indicates that you may proceed & that you have time to complete your turn & clear the intersection.
    Again, in reality, I pull into the intersection, block it & complete my turn when opposing traffic is clear enough that I can do so.

    Again, JMHO........
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2022
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  8. rbrtwbstr

    rbrtwbstr Road Train Member

    Jul 11, 2012
    in the bush somewhere
    This whole thread just reiterates just why we should get rid of red lights. They had their purpose in 1950. But with more people traveling the roads nowadays, the red light is antiquated technology. That and it's pretty obvious after reading this thread, nobody can agree on what's legal when making a left turn. Of course, there's 'whats legal' and then there's common sense. Even the judge may have a different opinion....

    Around here, Penndot's new love is roundabouts. And while I'm not a huge fan, I do see the benefits.
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  9. W923

    W923 Heavy Load Member

    Feb 28, 2022
    And navigating a roundabout with a semi is so much easier???
    I find that if the traffic is thick enough that I can’t get in while I’m still rolling it’s at least as bad as any stoplight.
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  10. W923

    W923 Heavy Load Member

    Feb 28, 2022
    As to the original question that was asked I would probably hope for the best and do whatever I could do safely but I wouldn’t start in after the light turned red. If the examiner doesn’t like it politely ask how your supposed to handle it and then come back next week if they don’t pass you.
    In the real world I will normally just sit until the next light cycle if I can’t make it. If it pisses off the four wheeler behind me oh well. On a light with no left turn I either try to get though without stopping (if it’s green) or wait until it’s turning green again. I watch the other light and as soon as it turns red or there’s other traffic blocking the cross traffic I go for it. Try to be entering the intersection as it’s turning green. The oncoming traffic usually is half way understanding. I figure at least this way they’re only going as fast as they can get moving and chances of a bad wreck are less than if your going to make them slow down from above the speed limit.
    just some of my thoughts…take them for what it’s worth…they probably aren’t completely legal
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  11. Allow Me.

    Allow Me. Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    May 28, 2009
    Rancho Mirage, Ca.
    In Ca. I see people waiting behind the crosswalk on a green light all the time, instead of pulling to the center of the intersectiom and waiting for traffic to clear, then completing the turn. By sitting behind the crosswalk, then only 1 car can clear the turn instead of 2-3 .
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