What is CVC 21801?
When preparing to make a left turn, you are required to yield to oncoming traffic. The code states:
- (a) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.
- A driver having yielded as prescribed in subdivision (a) and having given a signal as required by this code, may turn left or complete a U-turn, and the drivers of vehicles approaching the intersection or the entrance to the property or alley from the opposite direction shall yield the right-of-way to the turning vehicle.
Essentially, when you are preparing to turn and you do not have a light signal providing you the right-of-way (like a green arrow), the vehicles approaching from the opposite directly have the right-of-way. You need to ensure that if any vehicles are approaching, they are at a great enough distance for you to compete your turn or U-turn safely.
Danger in a Left Turning Vehicle
The majority of motor vehicle accidents are rear-end collisions but a substantial number occur at intersections when a motorist making a left turn neglects to see an approaching vehicle or misjudges the car’s speed and distance. This is especially true when the approaching vehicle is a motorcycle since they are more difficult to see and their speed is often seen as slower than it is. This is why it is important to be knowledgable of this vehicle code section and also why this code is so commonly enforced.
In most cases, an officer will ticket you if you turn in front of approaching traffic. What the officer does not know is that the light may have changed in your favor and the approaching vehicle ignored it and proceeded into the intersection. Another scenario is that the motorist signaled to let you turn but the officer behind you failed to see it and pulled you over.
The minimum fine for violating this vehicle code is $237 plus a point on your driving record.
Points can accumulate quickly. In California, 4 points in 12-months can lead to license suspension. If you receive 6 points in 24-months, the DMV can also suspend your license. If you drive for a living or depend on extra income as a Lyft or Uber driver, you risk loss of your job.
Did you receive a citation for failing to yield? Reach out to our team to understand your options. You can also take advantage of our free ticket review.