Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Uncontrolled right turns and why you just shouldn't do them

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"An uncontrolled right? Let. Me. Out. Now." Photo / Getty
"An uncontrolled right? Let. Me. Out. Now." Photo / Getty

Like many Aucklanders, I obsess about the traffic. Congestion in this city is so bad that locals have acquired the habit of considering multiple data streams before planning any car journey.

What time of day is it? What's the weather forecast? (Trips in the rain take longer.) Is there a major event on? (Adele, I'm looking at you. That's right, it's you.) Is it a full moon? (I wish I was kidding but such a lunar event can seriously impair the judgment of drivers around here.)

We have well-considered routes to our favourite destinations. We try to minimise exposure to those never-ending road-works. We are able to hold sustained conversations about exactly how congested certain roads are at specific times of the day.

Sometimes we share our secrets about how to avoid a specific bottleneck most craftily.

We steer clear of certain routes during school pick-up and drop-off times. We learn to take snaking suburban back roads when one of the lanes on the main road becomes a bus-lane.

We try to avoid rush-hours and we never voluntarily cross town on a week night. We try, try, try, to have some mastery over this monster that is slowly but surely choking our city.

One of the rules I adhere to in the interests of smooth progress is to never make an uncontrolled right turn.

According to my personal road code it is a serious offence to even consider turning right out of a feeder road at a T-intersection onto a busy crossroad if there are no traffic lights.

How anyone thinks they're going to fight through two constant streams of cars travelling in opposite directions is beyond me. Yet this is exactly what some motorists attempt.

They innocently join a long line of unmoving vehicles helmed by other drivers oblivious to the foolishness of their quest. When I was a less tolerant person I used to make assumptions about their IQ. These days, I simply call them optimists and leave it at that.

I've been daydreaming in a taxi when I idly look out the window and realise the direction we're heading. Suddenly I'm on task once more, alert to the potential hazards of poor decision-making on the mean streets of Auckland.

"You're not going to make an uncontrolled right turn, are you?" I ask the driver in a mildly panicked tone. I'm less chilled if I suspect such a manoeuvre might be on my husband's agenda while I'm his passenger: "An uncontrolled right? Let. Me. Out. Now."

So, to help clarify the situation with uncontrolled right turns, here are five guidelines that might prove useful.


1: Just don't do it

The first rule of uncontrolled right turns in Auckland is: don't do one.

Don't think about doing one. Don't imagine doing one. Just don't do one. (The exception, of course, is if you have local knowledge regarding traffic flow or time of day that indicates that such an ambition is not a fool's errand. In such instances, be my guest. But don't say you weren't warned.)

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2: Keep right

If you're going to make an uncontrolled right turn out of a feeder street then ensure you're positioned as far right as the lane allows while you wait.

This is so your protracted delay is not transferred to cars turning left out of the same street. I cannot emphasise enough the negative attention you will attract if you manage to impede the progress of other motorists while attempting your own ill-advised manoeuvre. You do not want those kind of bad vibes.

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3: Don't creep forward

If you creep forward beyond the painted line then your vehicle is likely to reduce visibility for drivers turning left out of the same street. This does my head in.

Stay behind the line and nobody gets hurt.

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4: Don't be a bully

A few years ago, I was in a line of cars planning to turn left from a feeder road onto a busy crossroad at an uncontrolled T-intersection.

To my right was a line of vehicles planning to turn right. One motorist in the queue to my right decided she didn't want to turn right after all. She was maybe the fourth or fifth driver in her queue.

Without warning (and clearly without looking) she edged her people-mover into the lane for left turning cars. The front of her vehicle hit my car just behind the driver's door.

As if that wasn't bad enough, she then claimed to the insurance companies that I'd been "undertaking" her and it was my fault.

Yeah, right. My car was stationary when your vehicle hit it. Nice try, lady.

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5: Use the correct lane

The exit of my local supermarket has two lanes that feature handy painted arrows.

The left lane is designated for cars planning to turn left. The right lane is for cars planning to turn right. That's obvious, right?

Well, you'd think so but I have lost count of the number of times that I've been in the right lane waiting to turn right (gasp, yes, it's an uncontrolled right turn but I have local knowledge as mentioned in point one) and a car in the left lane has blithely turned right in front of me. I kid you not.

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- NZ Herald

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Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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