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Project Drive Safer: When U-turns are allowed

They are allowed at traffic lights and intersections as long as they can be done safely and there is no sign prohibiting it
Posted at 5:58 AM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 10:03:28-05

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — In this week's Project Drive Safer Traffic Safety Tip of the Week, we are touching on the topic of U-turns. They are allowed at traffic lights and intersections as long as they can be done safely and there is no sign prohibiting it.

So when are U-turns illegal? Listed below is the state statute for U-turns and the following cases when u-turns are not allowed.

346.33 U-turns.

(1) The operator of a vehicle may not make a U-turn upon a highway at any of the following places:

(a) At any intersection at which traffic is being controlled by a traffic officer unless instructed by the officer to make a U-turn.

(b) In mid-block on any street in a business district, except where the highway is a divided highway and where the U-turn is made at an opening or crossover established by the authority in charge of the maintenance of the highway.

(c) In mid-block on any through highway in a residence district, except where the highway is a divided highway and where the U-turn is made at an opening or crossover established by the authority in charge of the maintenance of the highway.

(d) At any place where signs prohibiting a U-turn have been erected by the authority in charge of the maintenance of the highway.

(e) Upon a curve or upon the approach to or near the crest of a grade on any undivided highway where the vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of any other vehicle within 500 feet approaching from any direction.

(f) At any place where a U-turn cannot be made safely or without interfering with other traffic.

(1m) The operator of a vehicle shall exercise due care when making a U-turn upon a highway and shall only make a U-turn when the movement can be made safely and without interfering with other traffic.

(2) The operator of a vehicle may not back the vehicle at an intersection controlled by an official traffic control device for the purpose of making a U-turn.

(3) In this section, “mid-block" means any part of a street or highway other than an intersection.

The fine for this violation is $98.80 and is a 3 point violation. U-turns are a means to negotiate a change in direction when there is ample space to do so. The old law in Wisconsin which prohibited all U-turns at intersections was changed and operators may conduct U-turns at intersections, unless it is prohibited by a no U-turn sign. U-turns are not allowed in business districts unless it is a divided highway. Business districts frequently have more traffic than other roadways and a U-turn in these areas may become potentially dangerous for the operator negotiating the U-turn and other vehicles.

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