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In California if I'm at a stop in (1) and want to turn left on a busy street, is it okay to use the center left turn lane in (2) to merge right with traffic (as long as I don't use it more than 200 foot)?

  • 2
    Besides the law, from a practical point of view, it's a very bad idea. What happens if no one lets you over before 200 ft? Will you be able to look over your shoulder to see whether there's an opening while looking for other cars coming into the turn lane as well? If you've come up to the speed of traffic, will you be able to stop if another car comes into the turn lane? How are you going to get up to traffic speed in only 200 ft? – Acccumulation May 7 at 19:18
  • @Acccumulation "What happens if no one lets you over before 200 ft?": you stop. "Will you be able to look over your shoulder to see whether there's an opening while looking for other cars coming into the turn lane as well?": just as well as you can look over your shoulder when merging from a leftmost travel lane to the next travel lane on the right (it is the responsibility of others not to enter your lane in front of you). – phoog May 13 at 12:41
  • "you stop." If you're going at merging sped, stopping distance is going to be more than 200 ft. "just as well as you can look over your shoulder when merging from a leftmost travel lane" "it is the responsibility of others not to enter your lane in front" I'm skeptical of that, and even if you have the right of way, that doesn't help you if you're dead. – Acccumulation May 13 at 20:12
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Yes. There's a sentence about this in the DMV handbook:

Center Left Turn Lanes

A center left turn lane is located in the middle of a two-way street and is marked on both sides by two painted lines. The inner line is broken and the outer line is solid. If a street has a center left turn lane, you must use it to prepare for or make a left turn, or to prepare for or make a permitted U-turn (CVC §21460.5 (c)). You may only drive for 200 feet in the center left turn lane. This lane is not a regular traffic lane or a passing lane. To turn left from this lane, signal, look over your shoulder, and drive completely inside the center left turn lane. Do not stop with the back of your vehicle blocking traffic. Make sure the lane is clear in both directions and then turn only when it is safe. Look for vehicles coming toward you in the same lane, preparing to start their left turn.

Vehicles using the center turn lane.

When turning left from a side street or driveway, signal and wait until it is safe. Then you may drive into the center left turn lane. Enter traffic only when it is safe.

You can stop in the center left turn lane as well while waiting to merge into the regular traffic lane. You should not stop in nor drive through a dedicated turn lane that might exist in a center left turn lane.

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Technically you are not supposed to, but I doubt anyone would say anything unless you were noticeably being unsafe.

Refer to the driver's ed book for the rules on turning. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/hdbk/turns

  • Okay, thank you! I had a doubt because a police officer saw me doing this and turned his lights on, but it was for someone else – Hugo May 7 at 19:38
  • I'd guess he wants you to be safe. It's technically wrong, but I don't think he would go after you for it. – Putvi May 7 at 19:40

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