Ask a Trooper: What are rules for left turns on a green light?

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Question: When I learned to drive 50 years ago, my driver’s ed teacher instructed me to pull into the intersection on a green light, even when there was oncoming traffic, to attempt to make a left turn.  I still practice this, green arrows or not. I actually asked a driver’s test person at the DMV office about this and was told I am correct, you are supposed to pull into the intersection.  However, it drives (no pun intended) me crazy when people sit at a green light and stay out of the intersection, causing only that one car to get through the green light, leaving many other cars behind them to wait for another green light.

Troy Christianson

Answer: Signaling communicates to other motorists what you (as a driver) are going to do. 

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When attempting to make a left turn at an intersection, the manual states:

• When waiting to make a left turn at a green traffic light with oncoming traffic, position the car into the intersection with your body even with the curb line.

• While waiting to turn, keep your wheels straight and your foot on the brake. If your vehicle is struck from the rear, you will be less likely to be pushed into oncoming traffic.

• Do not change lanes while waiting to turn.

• Watch for traffic or obstacles on the road you plan to enter.

• Always complete your turn in the correct lane. 

• If the car ahead of you is signaling for a left turn, slow down and prepare to stop.

Minnesota law requires a driver to signal their intention at least 100 feet prior to the turn and continuously throughout the turn. In some cases, 100 feet might not be enough. 

Each driver is responsible for determining when it is appropriate to signal. Using our signals consistently and correctly can help to avoid many crashes, some of which may be serious or fatal. 

Also, make it a habit to periodically check all the lights on your vehicle and replace them when needed.   

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.