Driver Knowledge Tests

What are the rules for u-turns in Australia?

In Australia, the rules for making U-turns vary by state and territory, with some common guidelines and specific differences. Here’s a detailed overview:

General Rules Across Australia:

  1. Signalised Intersections: U-turns are generally illegal at signalised intersections across all states and territories unless there is a “U-turn permitted” sign.
  2. Non-Signalized Intersections: U-turns are allowed unless there is a “No U-turn” sign.
  3. Road Markings: U-turns are prohibited across single or double unbroken lines or double lines with an unbroken line on your side.
  4. Crossings: U-turns are not allowed at children’s crossings, pedestrian crossings, marked foot crossings, and level crossings unless a “U-turn permitted” sign is present.
  5. Motorways and divided highways: You must not do a U-turn on a motorway or divided highway as you would end up facing traffic.
  6. Safety: Always ensure you have a clear view of oncoming traffic, use indicators, and complete the turn without obstructing traffic. You must give way to all vehicles and pedestrians.

State-Specific Rules:

  • Victoria: Victoria is the most lenient state for U-turns. They are allowed at intersections with or without traffic signals unless prohibited by signage. They are not allowed across unbroken lines​. Victoria has a U-turn must give way sign.
  • New South Wales: U-turns are prohibited at traffic lights unless there is a “U-turn permitted” sign. They are not allowed on motorways, divided roads, or across any continuous lines​.
  • Queensland: U-turns at traffic lights are only allowed where a “U-turn permitted” sign is present. They are prohibited where indicated by signage​.
  • South Australia and Western Australia: Similar rules to NSW, prohibiting U-turns at traffic lights without a “U-turn permitted” sign and across continuous lines.
  • Tasmania: Prohibits U-turns across double broken lines, in addition to the general rules shared with other states.

Rules for Large Vehicles:

  • The rules generally apply to all vehicles, but extra caution is advised for semi-trailers, b-trains, road trains and other large vehicles due to their size and turning radius.
  • Rigid heavy vehicles (MR and HR) may be able to perform U-turns more easily
  • There may be additional restrictions in certain areas, such as urban centres or narrow roads, where U-turns are impractical or dangerous.

Specific Signage:

  • “No U-turn” Sign: Indicates that U-turns are not allowed.
  • “U-turn Permitted” Sign: Allows U-turns where otherwise prohibited.

Dangerous Locations for U-turns:

Even if permitted by law, U-turns can be dangerous in certain situations, including:

  • High-speed roads: Highways, where traffic moves quickly
  • Blind corners: Areas where visibility is restricted.
  • Crests: Areas where visibility is restricted due to the brow of a hill
  • Heavy traffic: Busy urban areas or during peak traffic times.
  • Near schools and pedestrian-heavy areas: Where unexpected pedestrian movements are frequent.

Always prioritise safety and consider using a side road or driveway if a U-turn seems risky or complicated. For more detailed information, refer to local road authority websites or driving guides specific to each state​.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Posted in Advice, Road Sign Resources