At any intersection, controlled by traffic lights, or not, if you are turning right across the flow of oncoming traffic, you have ZERO right of way.I came across a set of circumstances in the past week which gave me cause to add additional detail to how I train drivers to turn across the face of oncoming traffic. A young man, student of mine, during a practical driving assessment at Wynnum, was asked to turn from Tingal Road into Ronald Street at the Wynnum Central railway station. The intersection is controlled, but provides no right turn green arrow. The trainee was the first car at the intersection, in a right-turn-only lane. He did what is required by the Traffic Act, but rolling into the intersection, right-turn indicator on, wheels straight so that if he were to be hit from behind, the car would not be pushed into oncoming traffic.
He spied a break in the oncoming traffic, HOWEVER, a vehicle was approaching. That vehicle had it’s left-turn indicator activated. That vehicle had not entered the intersection, so the trainee reasoned that a positional conflict would not occur and proceeded to move into his right turn. Doing so cost him his license on the day. The regulation regarding such a position is as follows:
Division 2 – Giving way at traffic lights and traffic arrows
62 Giving way when turning at intersection with traffic lights
(1) A driver turning at an intersection with traffic lights must give way to—
(a) any pedestrian at or near the intersection who is crossing the road the driver is entering; and
(aa) any rider of a bicycle at or near the intersection who is crossing the road the driver is entering on a marked foot crossing; and
(b) if the driver is turning left at a left turn on red after stopping sign at the intersection—
(i) any vehicle approaching from the right, turning right at the intersection into the road the driver is entering, or making a U-turn at the intersection; and
(ii) any pedestrian or rider of a bicycle at or near the intersection who is on the road the driver is leaving; and
(c) if the driver is turning right—any oncoming vehicle that is going straight ahead or turning left at the intersection (except a vehicle turning left using a slip lane).
Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.
(2) However, a driver who is turning at an intersection with traffic arrows showing a green traffic arrow need not give way to an oncoming vehicle if the driver is turning in the direction indicated by the green traffic arrow.
I have to admit to not properly understanding this regulation, believing as the trainee did, that unless conflict was a potential, and the two vehicles unlikely to come into conflict, then it was safe to move. On further consideration I can see the sense in the ruling. Consider this…… we’ve all see drivers with indicators on, left or right, that they’ve either forgotten to cancel or intended to use but have changed their minds and still not cancelled. Either way, the vehicle approaching, whether it is indicating or not, has right of way. If you are turning right, whether the intersection is controlled or otherwise, you are crossing the path of oncoming traffic, and have NO right of way. Take note of sub-section two of section 62 of the act above, highlighted in green. Where you have a right-turn green turn arrow at a controlled intersection, you DO have right of way as the opposing traffic will have a red light, which effectively cancels out their right of way.
This is an important, and quite probably, a little understood ruling. It is well worthwhile paying attention to, especially if you are planning your practical driving assessment.