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"Ask a Trooper" answers traffic question

by Bonnie Amistadi

“ASK A TROOPER” by Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol


Question: When a person is making a left turn into a private driveway, there is oncoming traffic and a string of cars behind you, what is the proper procedure:  wait in the driving lane until the turn can be safely executed, or pull over to the shoulder and let the cars behind you pass? Is it legal to wait on the shoulder?  And is it legal for people to pass you on the right? Thanks!


Answer: The proper procedure is a little more “drawn out” than what you might expect.  If you know you are going to make a left turn, signal well in advance.  Then, start braking (ahead of time and after you have been signaling, so the drivers behind you can see your signal better and start slowing down, which will make the whole left turn situation a lot safer for everyone).  Then, when you arrive at your left turn destination and you have to wait for oncoming traffic, stay in the traffic lane and keep your front wheels pointed straight (so if you are hit from behind you will not get pushed into oncoming traffic) and just remain there with your left signal on until the oncoming traffic clears. 


Never mind the other vehicles behind you, because you have no control over them other than signaling and braking (communicating your intentions).  Even though there may be a nice shoulder on the right for you in some areas to pull over and wait on, we do not recommend pulling over there and waiting to make your left turn.  Following the information I gave you already here is very good.  As far as passing on the right, it is only legal to pass on the right when there is a lane provided, like a bypass lane (and then only if the vehicle you are passing is stopped or stopping to make a left turn) or if you are on a multi-laned road.  Thanks for asking, because this is a very important safety issue, and we all need to work together to create a traffic safety culture in Minnesota.


If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.  (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at,jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).