Have you ever been travelling south down a highway, just to find out that you actually need to be going north? To solve the problem, you decide to make a U-turn. But is that legal? Before making the turn, you check your surroundings for signs. Even if you don’t see a sign prohibiting U-turns, they still could be illegal in certain areas of Mississippi.
It makes sense why they might be illegal. A dangerous maneuver, like a U-turn requires extreme caution to avoid a traffic collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U-turns account for about 2 percent of all car accidents. So are they legal?
What are Mississippi’s Laws for U-Turns?
In Mississippi, making a U-turn is generally legal. You can legally make a U-turn as long as you follow the other regulations for left turns outlined in Mississippi law. Some of these regulations include using your appropriate turn signal, being in the proper turning lane, and waiting for the traffic light to turn green. But if there is a sign that says no U-turn, then it is illegal to do so.
In order to safely complete a U-turn, you must be able to see clearly in front of and behind you. In unsafe weather conditions where visibility is low, U-turns become more dangerous and are generally discouraged because you cannot see approaching traffic and they cannot see you.
Here are some basic rules you need to know about making U-turns. Before turning, make sure:
- The turn can be made safely
- The turn does not interfere with other traffic
- That there are no signs prohibiting the turn
If any of these aspects are compromised, wait until it is completely safe to make the turn.
Are There Places in Mississippi Where U-Turns Aren’t Legal?
Although state law makes U-turns legal, some cities, like Hattiesburg, have made u-turning illegal inside city limits. Just under 2 hours from Jackson, this city has an ordinance outlawing the turns. You might not know if from the looks of it, though, because there are no signs at intersections prohibiting the turns. Regardless, U-turns are illegal in Hattiesburg.
This doesn’t align with state law, since you can usually make a U-turn as long as there isn’t a sign against it. Make sure that you check your local ordinances to ensure you’re following the rules.
Proceed with Caution
Even though they’re generally legal, U-turns can be dangerous. And they don’t just happen at urban intersections. Drivers U-turn at rural intersections as well, which could be even more deadly because rural roads are smaller, include more turns, and have higher speed limits than urban roads.
As a state in the top five most rural in the country, the danger associated with rural roads proves to be for good reason. 83 percent of fatal car accidents in Mississippi occur on rural roads, compared to the 49 percent National average, according to the NHTSA.
In fact, Mississippi has the highest traffic fatality rate in the country from having some of the most lax traffic laws. According to Mississippi Today, our traffic fatality rate is twice the National average and four times the rate of the safest state, Massachusetts. So make sure to properly assess any risk before making a U-turn.
If you’ve been in a car accident caused by a U-turn in Jackson, you could have a tough legal battle ahead of you. On top of that, you might have medical bills, time off work, and emotional distress because of the accident. With help from us at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, you can focus on recovery while we figure out the legal side of things. Contact us today for a free consultation.