We don’t often think about it, but U-turns are one of the most complicated maneuvers most of us perform on the road. It’s one of the only times when your car can cross all lanes of traffic and perhaps the only time you reverse direction entirely on the road. And U-turns, both legal and illegal, are among the most common issues we see in car accident cases.
Unsurprisingly, Georgia tightly regulates when a U-turn is legal. Georgia is also a fault state, meaning that whoever gets found to be at fault for an accident will be responsible for paying all costs involved. So if you were involved in a U-turn accident, you need to know your rights, whether you were the one turning or not.
Who Is At Fault For a U-Turn Accident In Georgia?
- If the U-turn was illegal or done unsafely, the driver making the U-turn is at fault.
- If the U-turn was legal and done safely (proper signaling, turned from the left lane, etc.) and the other driver did something wrong, like speeding, the non-U-turn driver is at fault.
- If the U-turn was legal and done safely, but the other driver also didn’t do anything wrong, the U-turn driver will be the first one considered at fault, but they may be able to show a reason why this isn’t so.
Usually, the person making the U-turn will be at fault. But this is not always true, and the exceptions are important for both drivers involved.
When Is a U-turn Legal in Georgia?
According to Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 40-6-121, U-Turns are always illegal on:
- Any curve
- Any hill or the approach leading up to a hill
- Any area where the U-turn will interfere with other traffic, or
- Any road with a sign prohibiting U-turns
If none of the above factors are present, then the U-turn is legal. In other words, U-turns are permitted by default in Georgia unless there’s a specific reason not to make one.
Always Execute U-Turns Safely
Many factors surrounding U-turns are open to interpretation. Usually, if a road has low traffic, or you wait for a break in traffic, it may seem safe to make your U-turn. But someone may be pulling out where you don’t see them. Besides hitting other cars, many U-turns often become bicycle accidents or pedestrian accidents.
Often, the best sign of whether a U-turn was made safely was whether you slowed down and looked carefully before making it, signaling well in advance; or if you were in a hurry to turn around and did it without looking.
Why Are U-Turns So Dangerous?
U-turns are a form of left turn. Left turns, in general, are the most dangerous turns to make since a car has to pass oncoming traffic to complete the maneuver. Therefore, U-turns should only be done in a controlled and safe way. Even a slight miscalculation can cause an accident to occur, leading to innocent pedestrians and fellow drivers sustaining injuries and damages.
All drivers on the road need to exercise a duty of care for others. Part of this duty of care involves making U-turns only when allowed and only when it’s safe. Negligently executing a U-turn can make a driver liable for any damages they cause.
What Are the Most Common Situations Where a U-Turn Becomes an Accident?
Some of the most common types of U-turn accidents we see include:
- U-turn from the right lane. On a narrow road, you may have to move over to the right before making your U-turn so that you have enough turning space. Larger vehicles almost always have to do this. This is not strictly illegal, but it can give other drivers the impression that it’s safe for them to pass you on the left. As you begin your turn, you end up getting in a rear-end collision.
- U-turn at an intersection. U-turns are not illegal at intersections unless one of the factors above is present. However, it’s common to start your U-turn thinking no one is coming, only to find out that someone from the cross-traffic is turning right at the same time. The result is a potential collision.
- U-turn when someone else was speeding. When another car is speeding, either behind you or in oncoming traffic, they do not have time to realize that you’re making a U-turn and slow down or avoid you. They may be on you much closer than you expected, resulting in a serious accident. This is one of the cases where the other driver, not the U-turn driver, is likely to be found at fault. Or, fault may be considered shared between both parties.
Many other factors contribute to U-turn accidents. The best thing you can do to find out who is at fault and what you can likely recover is to speak directly to a legal professional.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of Georgia’s most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 today.