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Michigan Left-Hand Turns: Understanding the Law

Turnarounds, what many people call “Michigan Lefts” are a common type of turn in the state. A Michigan Left is a replacement for a left-hand turn and involves a vehicle making a U-turn at a median crossover. Not every state has adopted turnarounds; however these left-hand turns have been a part of our state since the late 1960s.

Why Did Michigan Adopted the Turnaround

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), “Research and experience have shown that the Michigan Left relieves congestion and increases safety and reduces average delays to left-turning vehicles and through-traffic.” The MDOT also reports that Michigan Lefts are much more efficient than conventional intersections, “providing 20 to 50% greater capacity than direct left turns.”

Although the MDOT states that Michigan Left’s increase safety and reduce the number and severity of crashes, some may argue differently. During winter months, there is a 20% increase in fixed-object crashes at crossovers due largely to a car sliding into a curb at crossovers. For more information from MDOT on Michigan left-hand turns, visit the MDOT's offical webpage.

Are Michigan Lefts Dangerous?

Accidents are bound to happen when there are multiple vehicles on the road. One of our most recent car accident cases involves a Michigan left turn on eastbound 12 mile road in Farmington Hills. Our client was driving along 12 mile when another vehicle attempted to enter 12 mile road from the turnaround and struck our client’s vehicle. The impact of the collision caused our client to strike another vehicle on 12 mile road. Farmington Hills police department investigated the accident scene. The driver attempting to make the Michigan left was found negligent. Our client was transported to Botsford Hospital via EMS at the scene. His injuries include rib fracture and nasal fracture. We have filed a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court. No trial date has been set. Our Michigan car accident lawyers are seeking damages from the at-fault driver for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.

Understanding How To Avoid A Turnaround Accident

One of the major causes of turnaround accidents is drivers do not understand the laws for making such turns.

A few key laws that all Michigan drivers should know before entering a turnaround:

  1. Is there a traffic light present? - Many turnarounds are one lane, not a two-car lane. Pay attention to the traffic lights – a Michigan left-hand turn is two lanes ONLY if a traffic light is present. If there is no traffic light, it is a one-lane turn.
  2. Has traffic cleared? - Drivers are permitted to make a Michigan left on a red light ONLY after traffic has cleared.
  3. Do you have a green traffic light? - Drivers are permitted to drive straight through a turnaround with a traffic light into an entrance across the street; however you must wait for the light to turn green. Even if traffic is clear, you must wait for a green light.

Knowing these rules can help prevent left-hand turn accidents. Unfortunately, collisions do happen and injuries may result. If you or a loved one was injured, call our top-rated Detroit car accident attorneys to discuss your case and learn your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and we can help you get what you deserve. We also represent our clients under a trusted no-win, no-fee promise, which means there are no legal fees or costs to you whatsoever until you win you case.


Call us today at (248) 793-2010.