Turning left on a country road is considered one of the most difficult and dangerous traffic situations. Doing it correctly requires theoretical knowledge, practical experience and good judgement. Every year many serious accidents occur because of drivers taking unnecessary risks when turning left.
Turning left on a country road can be associated with great risks
Do not take chances
You may only turn left if you can do so without endangering or unnecessarily obstructing traffic from behind, without endangering or obstructing oncoming traffic and without endangering or obstructing road users on the carriageway you intend to enter. Keep in mind that you must give way to all oncoming traffic when turning left.
If you are unsure whether a left turn can be performed safely, or if there is too much traffic, you have four options:
If you have any doubts about a left turn you must refrain from turning
If the road is mostly free of traffic and you feel certain the turn can be performed safely, this is how you turn left correctly:
Start by checking for traffic behind well in advance of the turn. Proceed by indicating left and positioning your car close to the centre line to let other drivers know of your intentions to turn. If there is traffic behind you, tap the brake pedal lightly a few times (to turn on the brake lights) to alert drivers behind you of your intentions to slow down.
Keep checking both following and oncoming traffic while adapting your speed so that you can, if possible, turn without first having to stop to give way to oncoming traffic.
If you are forced to stop before turning, you should stop next to the centre line with the wheels turned straight ahead – if they are turned to the left, your car can be thrown into the oncoming lane if you are hit from behind by another vehicle.
After turning left, position the car on the right-hand side of the lane.
Check the traffic behind you, indicate left and position the car next to the centre line in good time before a left turn
If you see that a vehicle in front of you is about to turn left you should position the car on the right-hand side of the lane, so that the turning vehicle is clearly visible for traffic coming from behind. This makes it easier for the drivers behind you to plan their driving, which reduces the risk of accidents. If the road is narrow or if the view is obscured you may need to reduce your speed as well.
Turning right on a country road is not associated with the same risks as turning left, as you do not have to cross any other lanes when turning right. However, it is still very important that you perform the turn in a safe, calm and clear manner.
You may only turn right if you can do so without endangering or unnecessarily obstructing traffic from behind or road users on the carriageway you intend to enter.
Start by checking for vehicles behind well in advance of the turn. Proceed by indicating right and positioning your car on the right-hand side of the road to let other drivers know of your intentions to turn. If there is traffic behind you, tap the brake pedal lightly a few times to alert drivers behind you of your intentions to slow down.
Always check for traffic behind you well in advance of both left and right turns
Keep checking traffic from behind while adapting your speed for the upcoming turn. Position the car as close to the roadside as possible – preferably on the hard shoulder, if appropriate – during the last stretch before the turn.
Before using the hard shoulder you must ensure that there are no unprotected road users or obstacles there. Do not use the hard shoulder in darkness, when visibility is reduced or where your view is obscured.
When driving on country roads, there is always a risk of speed blindness. Always ensure that you are maintaining an appropriate speed before turning.
Many, previously accident-prone junctions, have been rebuilt into so-called "Spanish turns". Where this is the case, it is prohibited to turn directly to the left. Instead, you first turn right onto an exit slip road and then drive straight across the main road when it is free of traffic.
Below you can see the road sign Advance direction sign indicating prohibition of left turning which informs you that you are approaching a Spanish turn. The road sign is usually posted about 500 metres before the junction.