Driver Left Turn - California Bicycle Coalition

Driver Left Turn

Understanding the risks

As you approach an intersection or a driveway on your left, a driver coming toward you from the opposite direction makes a left turn across your path.

Using the 5 skills

These are the skills you use to reduce your risks when a driver makes a left turn in front of you:


  • You can ride in a straight line without swerving.
  • You can give a hand signal without swerving.
  • You can slow down or stop quickly without losing control of your bike.


  • You ride far enough out from the curb to be clearly visible and to show that you’re riding straight through the intersection or past the driveway.
  • You turn and look directly at the driver of the oncoming vehicle to indicate that you’re aware of them.
  • You signal to the other driver not to make the turn by shaking your head “No” and/or gesturing.


  • You ride where a driver coming toward you can see you and understand from your position that you intend to ride straight ahead.


  • You watch where the driver is positioned in the lane to see whether they’re preparing to turn left across your path.
  • If the oncoming driver begins to turn left across your path, you decide whether to slow down, make a “quick stop”* or an “instant turn” to the right to avoid a collision. (You decide in that order.) In preparing to make an “instant turn”, you scan to your right to ensure that you have a safe place to turn into. In a “quick stop”, you stop your bike safely in the shortest possible distance by using both brakes, if possible, and shifting your weight back on the seat. You can learn these skills in a bicycle safety class led by a certified instructor.


  • You know your helmet and gloves will prevent or reduce injuries in case of a fall.

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