BC Highway U-Turns Don’t Necessarily Mean YOU

No highway U-turn for non-emergency vehicles

The lure of making an illegal U-turn on a BC Highway can be tempting. You might think it’ll save you a bit of time. Or it’s just convenient. Or it’s a quick fix when going the wrong way.

Just don’t.

It’s unwise, unsafe and illegal. You might see what looks like a pull through in the middle of the road and think it’s your perfect window of opportunity to back track. STOP! It’s not for you!
(Except if you’re an authorized emergency or maintenance vehicle)

Traffic travelling in the opposite direction is moving at freeway speed and they aren’t expecting a slow moving vehicle to just pop in front of them, coming from the other way. This causes accidents, sometimes fatal ones.

Actually, there are very few situations where U-turns are legal for the travelling public.

Here’s what ICBC has to say about u-turns in their Understanding Intersections document:

If you find you are going in the wrong direction, you may be tempted to make a U‑turn. U‑turns are often risky. They are illegal:

  • If they interfere with other traffic
  • On a curve
  • On or near the crest of a hill, where you cannot be seen by other traffic within 150 metres
  • Where a sign prohibits U‑turns
  • At an intersection where there is a traffic light
  • In a business district, except at an intersection where there is no traffic light
  • Where a municipal bylaw prohibits making a U‑turn.

This information is also straight from our BC Motor Vehicle Act, section 168 on Reverse Turns.

We ask that you please be patient. Look for that next exit to more safely (and legally) turn around on a side road. Look for those alternatives to a U-Turn that isn’t really intended or designed for you.

Page 1 of 13 comments on “BC Highway U-Turns Don’t Necessarily Mean YOU”

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  1. I recently moved from Manitoba to BC and I got a ticket today of $167 for making a u-turn at an intersection where there is a left turning signal and no sign stating that u-turns aren’t allowed. Plus there is no other way to get to my work where there’s a small strip mall. Now either way you have to make a u-turn wether you turn left or right to come back around to get to that strip mall. As per my co-workers the hwy use to have a merge lane to turn into the strip mall to the left but since the they did some road widening they closed of that merge left turn. Now in Manitoba you can make a u-turn with caution unless otherwise stated by a sign that says no u-turns allowed. So I followed the rules that I knew, I safely made a u-turn when the left turn traffic light had turn green and I knew it was safe. Also when I went to get my drivers license nothing was ever instructed to me that these u-turns weren’t allowed. There should be signs stating no u-turn allowed at an intersection specially when people from other provinces come her and different traffic rules at to be followed. I feel he officer should have given me a warning instead of a traffic ticket since these traffic violations are not stated anywhere when moving to this province and there was zero traffic violations done from my part, plus there is no other way to get to the place I was getting to without making another u-turn on the other streets (wether turning left or righ). I just don’t understand how this makes any sense with BC having such a higher populations I’m surprised these traffic signs are not posted particularly in the kelowna area where I live now.

    • Hello Carolina – sorry to hear your frustration. Changing rules and regulations between provinces can be challenging.Unfortunately, while we are responsible for creating regulations on BC highways – we are not responsible for enforcing it – that responsibility falls to the BC RCMP. It sounds to us like you were ticketed in the municipality of Kamloops, not on a BC Highway. We hate to further complicate the situation, but signage and ticketing are often done slightly differently in municipalities than they are provincially. We encourage you to check out ICBC’s road safety training booklet and familiarize yourself with the differences in signage on BC highways and, if you have further questions or concerns about what you have experienced in the City of Kamloops, contact them directly for more information. Hope that this helps.

  2. On the job, within the limits of construction, in a properly marked vehicle and on a two lane road with adequate visibility, I have made thousands of uturns in my 40 year career. Now you say they are illegal… but a section of the motor vehicle act lets construction workers break the normal rules. This should be noted whenever someone prohibits uturns (normally wise advise). I am in FSPaving we would never get our jobs done otherwise. That is why I keep requesting a vehicle that can do a uturn within two lanes. Never had an accident, follow the rules.

    • Hi Ken,
      It is illegal for passenger vehicles to do this, however, if there is a sign stating “except maintenance and authorized vehicles”, those vehicles are permitted.

    • Sorry for the confusion, Ian! The bullet was formatted incorrectly so it didn’t make sense. It now reads: “In a business district, except at an intersection where there is no traffic light.”

      • I think Ian’s confusion is coming from the fact that there are a couple of (I think) unintentional line breaks in the bulleted list. I think this:

        “- in a business district, except at an intersection where there is
        – no traffic light”

        is meant to be this:

        “- in a business district, except at an intersection where there is no traffic light”

  3. I don’t do U turns, but I cannot really understand why it would be illegal at a traffic light that has multiple lanes and an advanced left. There is literally no oncoming traffic if done during the advance light. (I’d still never do it myself though).

    • It’s tempting for sure, but for safety sake, we can’t make exceptions to the rule. Even though some folks might do it safely, there are others who risk everything. Better to take the next available exit and be safe.

    • There’s actually good reason U-Turns aren’t allowed at controlled intersections. You know how unlike say in Montreal we can do right turns on red lights here? Well if someone is making a U-Turn at an intersection and someone is also making a completely legal right on a red…you can see what “could” happen in that situation. Just an observation is all.