U Turns on a dual carriageway

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    What are the nationally approved road safety standard guidelines for U Turns into an uncontrolled 40 mph dual carriageway from a central reservation? A response by road safety professionals would be really appreciated.
    Martin Evans

    Sorry, I’m not sure I understand your question…why would you do a U-turn on a dual carriageway with a central reservation? Perhaps you mean through a break in the central reservation…if you do, then I am not aware of any approved safety guidelines.

    Tell us more about why you are asking.

    Andrew Fraser

    Hello, Jim.

    As far as I’m aware there’s no such standard. And there seems to be only one reference to U-turns in the Highway Code, but that concerns mini-roundabouts. So all you have to do is follow Rule 144. You MUST NOT
    ● drive dangerously
    ● drive without due care and attention
    ● drive without reasonable consideration for other road users. Law RTA 1988 sects 2 & 3 as amended by RTA 1991

    I had occasion to look at U-turning on dual carriageways, but could find little research on its safety. What I did find was American and, as I recall it, it wasn’t the highly dangerous thing you might have expected. I suppose it would depend on the usual suspects: speed, volume, no. of lanes, weather, etc. In the particular case on which I was involved, the choice was whether to introduce another signalled junction at a commercial development or to oblige drivers to U-turn at an existing opening in a very wide central reservation, a short distance away. The latter (no new junction) was decided upon and there has been no problem for over a decade, now.

    Perhaps, if it is provided for properly, no further “nationally approved guidelines” are necessary. This Malaysian paper might interest you:



    Roger Hosking

    Good evening.

    I’m a driving instructor, so whether that counts as a road safety professional, or not, I don’t know.
    I tend to agree with Martin Evans. I would certainly not recomned that action to my pupils. There is also the no ‘U’ turn sign which you may see on some breaks in the central reservation. There are two such examples near me on the A27.

    Roger Hosking, ADI.

    Andrew Fraser

    Hello, Roger.

    Yes, I often wonder what’s meant by a road safety professional, myself! I’m a civil engineer who got caught up in the drive to improve road safety through engineering in the 1980s, but I’m not sure I’d qualify.

    As to U-turns on dual carriageways, there are plenty of bans in my area, too, and, where the central reservation is narrow, they are probably justified. If I was teaching, I’d recommend heading for the next roundabout, if there is one. If there isn’t and the central reservation is as wide as the case I referred to earlier, I honestly can’t see why a U-turn should be any more of a problem than a right turn. (Of course, that’s amongst the worst manoeuvres in the book, anyway!)

    It’s U-turns on single carriageways that I’d be more concerned about.

    On a slightly different tack, I often wished that ADIs and engineers could have got together on the matter of road safety. I know some ADIs were very concerned about some of the recent changes to the test – particularly the one concerning pulling up on the right hand side of the road. Guess what the last accident to cross my desk involved ….

    Kind regards,


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