Policy and Application for 'U-turn Permitted' Signs at Traffic Signal Controlled Intersections

Document No:  D12#399535
Revision:  3
Date amended:  05-Nov-2014

The information below is intended to reflect the preferred practice of Main Roads Western Australia ("Main Roads"). Main Roads reserves the right to update this information at any time without notice. If you have any questions or comments please contact Ron Koorengevel by e-mail or on (08) 9323 4704.

To the extent permitted by law, Main Roads, its employees, agents, authors and contributors are not liable for any loss resulting from any action taken or reliance made by you on the information herein displayed.

Revision Register


Ed/Version Number Clause Number Description of Revision Date
1 All Guideline Developed 01-Jun-2000 
1A Header Guideline Contact Amended.  16-Dec-2006 
1B 1 Guideline Chapter Renumbered. 17-Oct-2008
2 All Guideline Reviewed and Updated. Document No. 67-08-1 replaced with TRIM No. D08#230168 12-Dec-2008
​2A​Header​Contact person changed.​29-Sep-2011
3 All Guideline updated and approved. Title amended. 05-Nov-2014

Table of Content


Main Roads may install U-turn Permitted signs on an approach to intersection traffic control signals where U-turning will not compromise safety or interfere with the efficiency of the traffic signal operations, and where the destination for which the manoeuvre is required cannot reasonably be accommodated by other means. 



2.1 Definitions

Carriageway means a portion of a road that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic, and includes the shoulders, and areas, including embayments, at the side or centre of the carriageway, used for the stopping or parking of vehicles; and, where a road has two or more of those portions divided by a median strip, the expression means each of those portions, separately.

Light vehicle means a vehicle meeting Austroads Vehicle Classification 1 or 2.

Main Roads means Main Roads Western Australia.

Road Traffic Code means those regulations cited as the Road Traffic Code 2000 under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1974.

2.2 Background
2.2.1 General

Benefits to the community in the form of increased safety and road efficiency occur when single carriageway roads are converted to dual carriageway roads.  Minimising breaks in the median of these dual carriageway roads assists in reducing the incidence of right turning vehicles blocking and impeding through traffic thereby increasing the efficiency of the road.  

However, some members of the community may have reduced amenity when a dual carriageway is installed due to reduced opportunities to turn right.  As a consequence, requests are made for U-turning to be allowed at some traffic signal controlled intersections to facilitate easier access to local roads and properties.  Regulation 31 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 prohibits U-turning at traffic signal controlled intersections unless a U-turn is permitted by the traffic signal display or a ‘U Turn Permitted’ sign is installed.  Conditions regarding time, days or vehicle type may be added to a ‘U Turn Permitted’ sign.

Traffic signals are installed at intersections of heavily trafficked routes taking account of traffic planning requirements for an area or a length of road.  In many instances where major roads are constructed as dual carriageways for capacity and/or safety reasons, traffic signal controlled intersections provide the only break in the median.  The consequence of this is that minor side roads and driveways between intersections can only be accessed by vehicles turning left.  Similarly, vehicles wanting to turn right from these minor side roads or driveways face a circuitous route with additional travel distance. 

These policy and application guidelines have consequently been developed to address situations where it is impractical to require traffic to travel inordinately long distances to gain left turn access from the adjacent carriageway, or to turn in the opposite direction.

2.2.2 Other Legal Requirements

Overriding the criteria contained in this document are drivers’ legal obligations to conform to Regulation 32 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 when undertaking any U-turn movement.  The legal requirements being as follows:

A driver shall not commence a U-turn unless;

    • the turn can be made with safety and without interfering with the movement of other traffic; and
    • the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic.

A driver making a U-turn shall give way to all vehicles and pedestrians.

A driver making a U-turn shall commence the U-turn;

    • if the carriageway where the driver is turning has a dividing line or median strip - from the nearest lane, or a near as practicable, to the dividing line or median strip; or
    • in any other case - from the left of the centre of the carriageway.


2.3 Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this document is to detail Main Roads' policy for permitting U-turns at intersections controlled by traffic signals, by the use of ‘U Turn Permitted’ signs.  N.B. This document does not deal with the use of U-turn traffic signal displays which, by and large, would apply only in exceptional circumstances.  

This policy is to be applied in conjunction with the application guidelines to provide a consistent approach to allowing U-turning at intersection traffic signals on all roads in Western Australia.


3.1 Conditions

The conditions that must be met for U-turns to be allowed at traffic signal controlled intersections are as follows:

3.1.1 General Requirements
    • U-turns shall only be considered at intersections where the movement cannot be accommodated at another suitable location and it is unreasonable for traffic to travel considerable distances to make the turn or access a location.
    • U-turns must not compromise pedestrian safety nor inhibit pedestrians using the intersection to cross the road at that point.
    • A separate right turn phase is provided for the right turn (and U-turn) movement.
    • A separate right turn only lane is provided on the approach from which the U-turn is to be made or, where the intersection is a 4 way intersection, the approach has its own (split) phase.
    • The turn must be able to be made by a light vehicle from entirely within the right turn lane, (i.e. not straddling lanes). N.B. Where more than one exclusive right-turn lane is provided, this condition is applicable to the right–turn lane adjacent to the median or dividing line. 
    • The carriageway into which the U-turn is to be made must be of sufficient width to permit a U-turning light vehicle to make the turn in a single manoeuvre, i.e. without reversing.  (A design vehicle turning template must be used to determine whether the manoeuvre can be made).
    • Traffic turning left from any intersecting road to the right of the driver to enter the carriageway into which the U-turn is to be made, where such a left turn is controlled by traffic signals, must be stopped at the time the U-turn manoeuvre is permitted. 
    • For traffic turning left from a slip lane of any intersecting road to the right of the driver, where the slip lane is not controlled by traffic signals, the following conditions apply:
      • The intersection accommodates traffic turning right from the intersecting road to enter the carriageway into which the U-turn is to be made, (i.e. the intersection must be a 4-way intersection with provision for right turns from the intersecting road to the left of the driver making the U-turn).
      • The carriageway into which the U-turn is to be made shall have at least three through lanes.
      • The nominal approach angle between the slip lane and the carriageway into which the U-turn is to be made shall not be less than 70 degrees.   
    • In the event that signalised movements (phasing) at any intersection requires modification to permit the incorporation of U-turns, then the merits of installing the U-turn shall outweigh any reduction in amenity for other road users at the intersection.


3.2 Signing and Pavement Marking Requirements
3.2.1 Sign to Indicate Vehicles Allowed to Make Turn

If it is necessary to indicate that U-turning is required to be restricted to a particular maximum vehicle length, the ‘U-Turn Permitted’ signs shall have a sign attached below that sign indicating the length of vehicle permitted to make the turn.  Sign layout shall conform to the requirements of AS 1742 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.


3.2.2 Sign to Indicate Times When U-turn Permitted

If U-turning is required to be restricted to particular hours of a day or days of a week or both, then this information shall be contained on a sign immediately below the ‘U-turn Permitted’ sign.  Sign layout shall conform to the requirements of AS 1742 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.


3.2.3 Pavement Arrows

Where a turning lane is provided to cater exclusively for U-turns, and it is essential to distinguish it from a right turning lane before or after, the U-turn arrow should be used.  If the distinction is not needed and the lane caters for both right turns and U-turns, a right turn arrow shall be used.  Turn arrows shall be installed in accordance with Main Roads Drawing No. 9531-2010.


3.3 Application of Guidelines

The policy and application guidelines shall be applied on receipt of a request for U-turning to be provided or an investigation indicates that permitting U-turns will improve traffic management and safety.


4.1 Applications

Applications for ‘U Turn Permitted’ signs should be addressed to the Traffic Services Co-ordinator in the Metropolitan Region and the appropriate Regional Manager in regional areas.

The applicant should provide the following information:

    • Applicant’s name, postal address, e-mail address and telephone number.
    • Road name and section (linked to a physical landmark, e.g. intersection).
    • Reason for the request.


4.2 Approval

‘U Turn Permitted’ signs shall be approved by the Executive Director Road Network Services, prior to implementation.


4.3 Signing Details

‘U Turn Permitted’ signs shall be designed in accordance with Australian Standard 1743 Road Signs – Specifications for Sign Type R2-15A.

In cases where more than one right turn only lane is provided, ‘U Turn Permitted’ signs, as well as any diagrammatic type direction signs depicting the U-turn movement, shall have a supplementary “RIGHT LANE ONLY” sign.