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Chapter 13 - Lanes of the Road

The best drivers in the world would be hazards on the roads without boundaries*. Put 10 cars on the road without lanes, and chaos would reign supreme. Lanes on the road allow vehicles to share the highway safely. Knowing the laws that surround these lanes will help you become a better driver.

*Hint: This statement may appear on the environmental portion of the final exam.


The rules for turning apply at all locations on the road, not just intersections, and this includes driveways and alleys. Always signal, turn at a reduced speed, and make smooth movements. While making the turn, be aware of possible hazards and make sure to check for pedestrians, bicyclists, mopeds and other vehicles using the roadway. Do not make a turn unless you are in the proper position on the roadway and the turn can be completed with reasonable safety. You should signal your intent to turn left or right continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.

  1. Do not turn a vehicle to proceed in the opposite direction on a curve or on the approach to or near the crest of a grade if your vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of any other vehicle approaching from either direction within five hundred feet.
  2. A U-Turn is a dangerous maneuver that must be attempted only when proper consideration is given to vehicle positioning, turning radius, oncoming vehicles, and the width of the roadway.
  3. A U-Turn is never legal on an expressway.
  4. If done safely, a U-Turn is always legal, as long as there are no posted signs prohibiting it.
  5. To make a U-Turn, give a left turn signal, check for oncoming traffic, and then proceed.

Right and Left Turn Situations

The demonstrations in this section show you the proper way to execute a turn in each intersection scenario. The numbers that are next to the vehicles refer to the numbered sentences below. *Pay close attention to the following animations, this information may appear on the environmental portion of the final exam.

Turns at Intersections

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1. Left turn from a two-way street.

Left turns require extra caution because they tend to be dangerous due to conflict with oncoming vehicles, changing signals, pedestrians, and limited visibility. Start the turn at the left hand edge of the lane closest to the middle of the street. You must complete the turn in the lane to the right of the yellow centerline of the cross street (see car #1 in the animation). You must use a left turn lane if there is one. A left turn from the next lane may be made if signs or arrows show it is okay. If you are allowed to turn from another lane, complete your turn into the corresponding lane on the other street.

2. Right turn.

The blue car shown at the top (#2) in the animation is turning correctly. It began the turn in the lane nearest the right-hand curb. It will end the turn in the lane nearest the right-hand curb. Do not swing wide into another lane of traffic. Collisions commonly occur during right turns where a vehicle turns too wide and collides into an opposing vehicle making a left hand turn. You may start a right turn from other than the far right lane only where pavement or overhead markings show that using that lane for a right turn is permitted.

You may always turn right on a red light from a dead stop unless there is a sign prohibiting it, but you must complete the maneuver in the right or slow lane, keeping close to the curb at all times. If traffic is stopped at an intersection, and you are several cars back, you may travel along the right curb in order to make a right turn, but only if it is safe to do so.

If the curb is a parking zone, or if the curb has a bicycle lane, you may not travel along the right. If you are in a lane that allows you to proceed with a right turn or straight on the road, and the lane to your right is marked "right turn only," you, as the driver in the left lane, have the option to turn right on a red light. ARS § 28-751 states: "Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway."

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3. Left turn from a two-way street into a one-way street.

Start the turn from the far left-hand portion of your side of the road. You must turn into the lane that is closest to the left-hand curb (see car #3).

4. Left turn from a one-way street into a two-way street.

Start the turn from the far left-hand portion of your side of the road. You must turn into the lane that is closest to the yellow centerline (see car #4).

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5. Left turn from a one-way street into a one-way street.

You must start the turn from the left hand portion of the road and complete it in the left hand portion of the cross street (see car #5). Watch for bicycles between your vehicle and the curb because they may legally use the left turn lane for their left turns.

6. Right turn from a one-way street into a one-way street.

Start your turn in the far right lane and complete the turn in the lane closest to the curb (see car #6). Sometimes signs or pavement markings will let you turn right from a lane next to the far right lane. If you are allowed to turn from another lane, complete your turn into the corresponding lane on the other street.

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7. Turn at a "T" intersection from a one-way street into a two-way street.

Through traffic has the right-of-way. You may turn either right or left from the center lane. Watch for vehicles and bicycles inside your turn.

Two-Way Left Turn Lanes

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Many major surface streets have center lanes that can be used by traffic in either direction to make left turns. A two-way left turn center lane is marked by double parallel yellow lines, with the exterior lines solid and the interior dashed on each side. If a street has a center left turn lane, you may enter and use it to enter or exit a driveway or private road, when preparing for or making a left turn, or when preparing for or making a U-turn if permitted. If exiting a driveway or private road, you may use this lane to merge. You may not drive more than 200 feet in the center left turn lane. You may drive across a center left turn lane if needed.

Once you enter a left turn center lane, you should signal and drive completely inside the lane. Make sure the lane is clear in both directions before you enter. Turn only when it is safe. As it is a two-way lane, watch for oncoming vehicles that are using the lane to turn left.

Although you may drive up to 200 feet in this lane, you may not use the two-way lane to pass other vehicles. You may not make a left or U-turn from any other lane when there is a left turn lane that allows you to make that turn.

  1. Never make a last-minute decision to turn. It is dangerous to not give enough notice to other drivers.
  2. Always scan the road ahead for hazards, pedestrians, bicycles, animals, etc.
  3. Look behind you and to both sides to be aware of where other vehicles are before you make a turn.
  4. Move into your lane as quickly as possible. Make sure you are completely in the proper lane at least 1/2 block before you turn.
  5. Signal your intention to turn at least 100 feet before making the turn, although it is advised to signal well in advance of the 100 feet mark. Keep both hands on the steering wheel throughout the entire turn.
  6. Slow down when approaching the turn.
  7. Finish the turn in the proper lane before changing into another lane.

Freeway / Highway / City Driving

Photograph of cars on a freeway

Excessive lane changing on highways is not advisable.

Freeway / Open Highway - The increased speed required on open highways does not necessarily mean an increased danger to you if certain precautions are taken and practices are followed. When driving on open highways, it is imperative to be aware of slow-moving vehicles and to keep clear of them. Early awareness of vehicles moving at substantially slower speeds than the flow of traffic can help you to avoid rear-end collisions or unsafe last-minute lane changes. Excessive lane changing or driving in slower lanes for prolonged periods of time can contribute to a last-minute encounter with a slow-moving vehicle. Special notes on freeway driving:

  • Obey all timed signal entrance lights to assist with merging.
  • Be aware of two freeway entrance lanes merging into one (double merge lanes).
  • High occupancy vehicle on-ramp lanes will be marked and should be observed for usage requirements.
Freeway Lane Usage
  • The Right Lane - The far right lane on freeways and open highways is used for exiting and slow-moving vehicles.
  • The Center Lane - The center lane or lanes are used for through traffic.
  • The Left Lane - The far left lane on freeways and open highways is used for passing and vehicles driving at faster speeds.

Control of Speed

You should never drive at an excessive speed, where control of the vehicle is compromised. The vehicle should always be traveling at a speed that is prudent and feasible for conditions.

Photograph of a freeway

Highway on-ramps are the entrance to freeways.

On-ramps / Merging

Highway on-ramps are for entrance to freeways and should adequately prepare for freeway driving. Drivers can no longer travel at slower speeds needed for city driving, but are called upon to increase speeds to that of highway traffic without exceeding the posted speed limit. Use on-ramps and subsequent lanes as a means to merge into the flow of traffic at the current speed. In addition, watch vehicles ahead for sudden stops. You should signal, increase speed, and merge safely into traffic, leaving proper following distance at all times. Continue to signal until you have completely merged onto the freeway. Locate gaps in traffic to merge into and make sure not to merge too slowly or to make sudden stops.

NOTE: If there is no acceleration lane, wait for a larger gap before entering and obey all yield and merge signs. Double merge lanes converge into one acceleration lane, and a timed entrance light usually helps to stagger the cars.

Exiting / Off-ramps

1. Off-ramps are designed for slower speeds and are links to city roadways. You should signal, reduce speed in a casual and deliberate manner, and prepare to stop, if necessary. Increases in speed should never happen on an off-ramp. Exiting a highway requires reduced speed, extra caution, and heightened road awareness by the operator of the motor vehicle.

Special notes on off-ramps... Exit lanes allow you to reduce speeds to the posted limit without affecting the freeway flow. You should yield to others when necessary. If you miss an exit, simply exit the freeway at the next off-ramp, re-enter the freeway to proceed in the opposite direction, and then take the intended exit. No radical maneuvers should be attempted. Do not cross over the dividing median or gore area just to make your exit as you may interfere with other traffic. Special care must be taken on a curved ramp; speed should be decreased as the ramps would not be safe for freeway speeds.

Lane Changing/Turn Signals/Visibility Requirements - Excessive lane changing on highways is not advisable because it increases the chances for mishaps or collisions. When changing lanes or preparing to exit a highway, it is best to use a combination of side mirrors, the rear-view mirror, and glances over your shoulder to get a full perspective of the margin for safety or of imminent danger. Lane changing and turning require you to signal and give warning to others on the road that an action is imminent. You must give warning in sufficient time to others sharing the roadway prior to initiating the maneuver. There must be adequate visibility in all directions prior to the lane change and an awareness of blind spots. You should only change lanes one at a time. Avoid slowing down or stopping during a lane change as this could prove to be dangerous for other drivers behind. Changing lanes within 100 feet of the exiting intersection is legal, but it is not advisable because there are too many possible hazards.

Slow-Moving Vehicles

When driving on mountain roads or any road where your vehicle can impede other vehicles' use of the highway, you should use the turn-out to allow other vehicles to pass. Often, drivers fail to use common courtesy in this type of situation. Turn-outs are designed for use by drivers of slow-moving vehicles who, after recognizing their hazard or hindrance on certain roads, pull off and allow other vehicles to pass. Road rage in drivers often results from others they share the road with not demonstrating this type of common courtesy.

Special Freeway Problems

When driving on a freeway for an extended length of time, two problems can arise: velocitation and highway hypnosis. Unknowingly increasing your speed while driving is known as velocitation. When driving at faster speeds for any length of time, your body will adjust and incorrectly feel as if the car is going slower than it actually is. The best way to avoid this problem is to check the speedometer often. Make sure to check for ramp speed limit signs when exiting the freeway and drive accordingly. After you exit the freeway, checking your speed becomes more important. It takes time for your body and your vehicle to adjust to the slower speeds.

The second problem that might occur while driving for extended periods on the freeway is highway hypnosis. This is a result of driving at a steady speed with no stopping or slowing for a long period of time. In addition to this steady speed, most freeway driving is dull with not much to look at. These factors make your body more relaxed, and in time, make you less attentive to your surroundings. In some situations, drivers have even been known to fall asleep at the wheel. Here are some ways to avoid this drowsiness:

  • Avoid eating large meals before or during the trip.
  • Take breaks - rest at regular intervals.
  • Make sure the vehicle is cool and that there is proper ventilation.
  • Talk with yourself or other passengers.
  • Listen to the radio and change the station every once in a while.
  • Change your seating posture from time to time.
  • Scan the entire width of the road more often than usual.

Extra notes on freeway driving... Always be aware of the vehicle's speedometer, especially when driving for extended lengths of time. Although Arizona has no toll roads, if you encounter a toll facility while driving in other states, slow down dramatically and prepare to stop. Avoid lane changing when you approach a toll facility, if possible.

Gore areas

Under ARS § 28-644, a gore area is described as the area between a through roadway and an entrance ramp or exit ramp that is defined by two wide solid white lines that guide traffic entering or exiting a roadway. It is prohibited to drive through a gore area. This does not apply to you if your vehicle becomes disabled to an extent that it is impossible to avoid stopping and temporarily leaving the disabled vehicle in the gore area.

Freeway Emergencies/Problems

Freeway emergencies can range from the unexpected appearance of an object in your lane to an accident. Whenever emergencies arise, which is quite often, you will basically have two options. You can stop before the incident or try to steer around it. If the object is small enough to drive over without hurting your vehicle, you should reduce your speed and drive over it. If it is a danger to you or your vehicle, slow down quickly, check your rear view and side mirrors to find an open lane, and then steer around the object, making sure to avoid crashing into any other vehicles around you. If it is impossible to steer around the object, you will have to stop quickly. Make sure to tap your brakes first so that other drivers see your warning. Then apply your brakes, making sure to leave as much space as possible between your vehicle and the object to decrease the possibility of being rear-ended. When you have come to a stop, turn your hazard lights on.

City Driving

Driving in the city requires a reduction in speed as there is more traffic and road congestion to contend with. Certain precautions to take include:

  • Choose the least congested lane.
  • Watch out for detours and parked cars.
  • Be aware of pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Look ahead for traffic hazards and signals.

Gridlock is an increasing problem throughout the highways and streets of the United States. The following are steps which all drivers can take to help reduce this growing problem:

Photograph of a gridlocked intersection

Gridlock is an increasing problem throughout the United States.

  • Avoid rubbernecking - Rubbernecking involves slowing your vehicle down to look at extraordinary accidents or traffic situations. The slowing of your vehicle that enables you to stare at a traffic mishap may also contribute to gridlock or even an additional accident.
  • Make less frequent lane changes - Many drivers seem to think that changing from one lane to another somehow increases their chances of bypassing bumper to bumper traffic. Instead, it merely increases the problem by causing more braking and slowing of other vehicles.
  • Don't tailgate - Tailgating causes accidents. Accidents cause traffic bottlenecks and traffic bottlenecks lead to gridlock. Always leave enough room between your vehicle and the vehicle you immediately follow.
  • Keep your vehicle in good working order - Vehicle break-downs block traffic flow and directly contribute to gridlock. A simple check of your vehicle's operating condition prior to driving can help you avoid a potential break-down.
  • Do not enter an intersection after the light has turned red or until you can completely clear the intersection prior to the light turning red - A major problem that causes gridlock is a driver's unwillingness to grasp the concept of keeping clear of intersections. Road markings that warn you to keep intersections clear should be observed, as they are a deterrence to gridlock.

ARS § 28-601 defines an intersection as the area embraced within the prolongation or connection of the lateral curb lines, or if none, the lateral boundary lines of the roadways of two highways that join one another at, or approximately at, right angles, or the area within which vehicles traveling on different highways joining at any other angle may come in conflict. If a highway includes two roadways thirty or more feet apart, each crossing of each road of the divided highway by an intersecting highway is a separate intersection. Basically, an intersection is an area where two roads intersect.

When there is a signal, you may enter the intersection on a green or yellow light and proceed out of it, even if the light turns red after having entered. If entering an intersection on a green or yellow light, but unable to completely pass the intersection prior to the light turning red, thus blocking traffic, a gridlock situation may exist. Gridlock exists when a vehicle gets stuck in an intersection at a red light, preventing opposing traffic from use of the highway. Some of the most important driving decisions, such as when to change lanes, turn, or slow down, are all made at intersections, making them a prime area for potential accidents. A marked or controlled intersection will have a traffic signal, stop or yield sign, and these signs help determine the right-of-way for drivers. You do not have the right-of-way when making a left turn at an intersection, and you must yield to traffic regardless of light color.

Watch the following demonstration on how to properly yield the right-of-way at a 4-way stop:

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When you arrive at an intersection controlled by a 4-way stop, the driver that comes to the intersection first should be given the right-of-way. In the animation above, the driver in the yellow car coming from the top arrived first, so the driver in the red car yielded the right-of-way.

If two drivers arrive at the same time, the driver to the right should be given the right-of-way. The driver in the gray car coming from the right was on the right of the driver in the blue car, so the blue car yielded the right-of-way. These two rules on yielding always apply whether a driver is turning or proceeding straight ahead.

Note: Extreme caution should be exercised when approaching and proceeding through intersections. Conflicting highways, motor vehicles making left and right turns, and opposing signals all increase the collision potential at an intersection. Drivers jumping green lights may conflict with drivers running red lights, and this often leads to collisions. The speed or distance of other vehicles that may conflict with your vehicle should be determined, as well as the time required to complete the maneuver. Crossing an intersection completely takes an estimated four seconds.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety attributes 800 deaths and 200,000 injuries a year to crashes involving drivers running red lights. Arizona is by far the most dangerous state in the nation for red light related deaths; three of the four most deadly metro areas are located in Arizona, with Phoenix being the first. The majority of red light running occurs during the morning and evening rush hours; this is when the rate of red light runners goes from one every twelve minutes at an intersection to one every five minutes.

According to the City of Phoenix Police Department:

Nationally, each year red light running:

  • Causes 1 million injuries
  • Causes 7,000 deaths
  • Costs $7 billion dollars in lost wages

In Arizona, each year red light running:

  • Is responsible for 5,500 injuries
  • Causes nearly 50 fatalities
  • Results in a $250 million economic loss

In Phoenix, each year red light running:

  • Injures more than 3,400 people
  • Kills approximately 25 people
  • Results in more than 9,000 traffic citations
  • Causes damage to more than 8,500 vehicles
Cities with the highest death rates due to Red-Light Running crashes, 1992 to 1998
City Deaths Death Rate per 100,000 people
Phoenix, AZ 122 10.8
Memphis, TN 49 8.0
Mesa, AZ 26 7.8
Tucson, AZ 34 7.6
St. Petersburg, FL 18 7.6
Birmingham, AL 18 7.0
Dallas, TX 73 7.0
Albuquerque, NM 28 6.8
Louisville, KY 17 6.5
Detroit, MI 65 6.5

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety


Crosswalks may be marked or unmarked and are located at the corner of each intersection, unless the intersection is marked with a single white stop line and posted with "NO PED XING." Crosswalks require you to have extra awareness and caution, as conflicts with pedestrians can lead to tragedy. At a typical intersection, there are usually four pedestrian crosswalks, unless otherwise marked with "NO PED XING" signs. At a "T" intersection, there is usually only one crosswalk, unless otherwise marked. At all times, you must yield to a pedestrian in either a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Pedestrians should always cross streets legally, but you are required to use due care when approaching pedestrians because they may cross illegally. While using due care, a pedestrian may cross without a crosswalk, but he or she must yield to traffic.

Bicycle Safety

ARS § 28-812 states: "A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle." In addition:

Photograph of a bicyclist

Be considerate of bicyclists and give them the right-of-way when appropriate.

  • A person operating a bicycle should not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular attached seat.
  • A person shall not use a bicycle to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
  • A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at a speed less than the normal flow of traffic shall ride as close to the right-hand curb as possible.
  • ARS § 28-817 states "A bicycle that is used at nighttime shall have a lamp on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and a red reflector on the rear of a type that is approved by the department and that is visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when the reflector is directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A bicycle may have a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear in addition to the red reflector." It also requires a bicycle to be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

Bicycles typically ride near the right curb of the road, but they may move into the lane to the left to pass another bicycle or vehicle or to avoid hitting another object. Special care and extra space needs should be observed when driving near a bicycle. ARS § 28-735 states: "When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle."

Be considerate of bicyclists and give them the right-of-way when appropriate. Watch for bicycles that are in traffic and at intersections. When conditions are poor (i.e. bad weather or worn pavement), give the bicyclist even more space. When you are ready to leave your vehicle, check for oncoming bicycles before opening the door.

Each year 67 million bicyclists ride approximately 15 billion hours in the United States. Over half a million people are injured each year in bicycle-related crashes, and over 90% of the deaths from bicycle-related injuries are caused by collisions with motor vehicles. An injury to the head is the greatest risk bicyclists face, comprising one-third of the emergency room visits, two-thirds of hospital admissions, and three-fourths of the deaths. Children tend to be at the greatest risk on bicycles because they often do not practice safe riding techniques or wear a bicycle helmet. As a result, about one-seventh of bicyclist deaths occur in the 5 to 15 year old age group.

Safety Tips For Bicyclists:

Photograph of two bicyclists wearing helmets

Always protect your head by wearing a helmet.

  • Learn and obey all the same rules of the road you would practice if driving a motor vehicle.
  • Be alert, and always look out for obstacles and vehicles.
  • Whenever possible, avoid riding a bike at night.
  • Be aware of your position on the road and traffic around you.
  • Always check your brakes before riding, and keep your bicycle in proper working order.
  • Bike with the flow of traffic - not against it.
  • Always protect your head by wearing a helmet.
  • Have a presence on the road - ensure that you are seen by other drivers.
  • Make sure you have brakes that will make at least one tire skid on dry pavement.
  • Many cities and counties have laws requiring that children 14 and under wear a safety helmet.
  • Any bicycle used at night must have a rear red reflector visible from at least 300 feet away, and a white light on the front which is visible 500 feet away.

Important safety statistics:

  • Over 70% of crashes involving cars with bicycles occur in driveways or intersections.
  • Bicycle helmets can reduce head injuries by 85%.
  • Bicyclists made up 2% of all traffic fatalities in 2009.
Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycles are involved in a high number of traffic collisions, due in large part to their "invisibility" on the road. Your vehicle's side mirrors are important tools enabling you to see motorcycles and reduce the number of these crashes. Motorcyclists must obey the same driving laws as all other drivers.

Photograph of a motorcyclist

Motorcycles must be given extra attention while on the road.

ARS § 28-964 states: "An operator or passenger of a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle who is under eighteen years of age shall wear at all times a protective helmet on the operator's or passenger's head in an appropriate manner. The protective helmet shall be safely secured while the operator or passenger is operating or riding on the motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle. An operator of a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle shall wear at all times protective glasses, goggles or a transparent face shield of a type approved by the director unless the motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle is equipped with a protective windshield."

Remember... Motorcycles must be given extra attention while on the road. Extra room must be left for the motorcycle when it makes turns, and allowances should be given for its lane changing, positioning, and increases in speed.

A study conducted by Harry Hurt at the University of Southern California, called "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures," found the following:

  • Approximately three-fourths of the motorcycle crashes involved a collision with another vehicle.
  • Approximately one-fourth of the motorcycle crashes involved a collision with the roadway or a fixed object in the environment.
  • Two percent of the crashes involved some sort of roadway defect (potholes, cracks, pavement ridges, etc.).
  • One percent of the crashes involved an animal.
  • In two-thirds of the crashes that involved another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle was at fault by violating the motorcycle's right-of-way.
  • Weather conditions were only a factor in about two percent of the motorcycle crashes.
  • 92% of the motorcycle crashes involved motorcycle riders that were self-taught or learned from family or friends.
  • Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement, and motorcycle size.
  • Less than ten percent of the motorcycle riders in the study had insurance to cover medical care or to replace property.
Photograph of a motorcyclist without a helmet

Helmeted riders in crashes had fewer neck injuries than unhelmeted riders.

Although this study was published in 1981, it is still valuable for the insights it offers on motorcycle crashes, and its safety tips are still relevant today. The following are some of those safety tips offered as a result of these observations:

  • Motorcycle riders in these crashes showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel, greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.
  • The use of heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc. is effective in preventing or reducing abrasions and lacerations, which are frequent but rarely severe injuries.
  • Approximately 50% of the motorcycle riders in traffic were using safety helmets but only 40% of the crash-involved motorcycle riders were wearing helmets at the time of the collision.
  • The most deadly injuries to the crash victims were injuries to the chest and head.
  • Helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly lower head and neck injury for all types of injury, at all levels of injury severity.
  • Helmeted riders had fewer neck injuries than unhelmeted riders. Only four minor injuries were attributable to helmet use, and in each case the helmet prevented possible critical or fatal head injury.
  • Safety helmet use caused no attenuation of critical traffic sounds, no limitation of pre-crash visual field, and no fatigue or loss of attention; no element of collision causation was related to helmet use.
Lanes, Lines and Curb Markings
Photograph of a double yellow line

Yellow lines divide traffic in opposing directions.

Double Yellow Lines - Double yellow lines dividing a highway signify "no passing" and may only be crossed for a left turn maneuver. These lines are typically four inches in width and spaced three inches apart. They divide traffic in opposing directions and, in total, measure only 11 inches wide.

Single Broken Yellow and White Lines - A single broken yellow line shows traffic flowing in two (opposing) directions and indicates that passing to the left of the center line is allowed when it is safe and the roadway is clear, while a single broken white line signifies traffic flowing in two lanes in the same direction. The single broken line is sometimes seen dividing two-lane rural roadways. Single white broken lines are most often seen dividing lanes of traffic.

Curb Markings - The color of a curb dictates whether you may stop, stand or park at the curb. You should be aware of the following:

Green - You may only park there for a limited amount of time. The time is usually displayed on the curb or at a nearby sign.

Yellow - You are only allowed to stay near the curb long enough to load or unload passengers or cargo.

Red - You may never stop at this curb.

Blue - You may only park at this curb if you have a specially assigned placard or license designating you as disabled.

Photograph of a railroad crossing

A railroad crossing gate must be upright or open before you proceed through it.

Railroad Crossings - ARS § 28-851 requires a driver of a motor vehicle approaching a railroad crossing to stop within fifty feet but not less than fifteen feet from the nearest rail of the railroad and shall not proceed until the driver can do so safely under any of the following circumstances:

  • When there is a clear and visible signal device warning that a train is approaching.
  • A crossing gate is lowered or a human flagman gives or continues to give a signal of the approach or passage of a railroad train.
  • A railroad train approaching within approximately one thousand five hundred feet of the highway crossing emits a signal audible from such distance and the railroad train is an immediate hazard by reason of its speed or proximity to the crossing.
  • An approaching railroad train is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to the crossing.

Do not drive around, through or under a crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing when it is closed or is being opened or closed. It must be upright or open.

Under ARS § 28-853 the following vehicles must stop within fifty feet but not less than fifteen feet before crossing a railroad track:

  • any motor vehicle carrying passengers for hire
  • any school bus carrying any school child
  • any vehicle carrying or returning after delivery of explosive substances or flammable liquids

While stopped, you should listen and look in both directions for an approaching train or any signal that a train may be approaching.

Note: This law does not pertain to a street railway grade crossing within a business or residential district, or when a police officer or traffic signal directs traffic to proceed.

High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
Photograph of an HOV sign

This lane may also be used by motorcycles and hybrid vehicles with less than two occupants.

ARS § 28-737 states that you may not drive in a high occupancy vehicle lane unless there is a minimum of two people in the vehicle, including yourself, during times the lane requires two or more people per vehicle. However, the lane may be used by motorcycles and hybrid vehicles with less than two occupants. A hybrid vehicle is one that uses two or more power train technologies to produce a vehicle with significantly lower fuel consumption than the average of its class. Hybrid vehicles that use a high occupancy vehicle lane must display special plates or an alternative fuel vehicle sticker. The only other exception to this law is a tow truck driver, who may use a high occupancy vehicle lane while performing tow truck duties without having two or more people in the vehicle. These lanes promote ride-sharing to save fuel and cut down on the number of vehicles on the highways.

One-Way Streets

Oftentimes, drivers have difficulty identifying one-way streets. One-way streets are most commonly found in cities. They are designed to help move traffic faster and decrease the chance of conflicts with other drivers. The following indicators should alert you to these areas:

Photograph of a one-way sign

One-way streets are most commonly found in cities.

  • All the lane markings will be white.
  • Posted traffic signs will face the same direction on each side of the street.
  • Parked cars are all facing the same direction.
  • At the intersection preceding the one-way street, there will be indicating signs ("do not enter," "no turn" or "one-way").
  • There may be speed bumps.

Turnouts are designated areas to be used by slow-moving vehicles, which enable them to pull over and allow faster traffic to pass by. These areas are common on mountain roads and two-lane highways and are relatively short in length. Signs indicate where the turnout will begin and the distance before you reach it. According to ARS 28-704, if you are driving a slow-moving vehicle on a two-lane roadway and you are being followed by five or more vehicles, you must pull over as soon as you come to a turnout and let those vehicles pass.

© 1996 - The On-Line Traffic School, Inc. Arizona