Almost everything you need to know about doing right turns properly

As a new driver, doing right turns properly is one of the first things you’ll learn during your driving lessons. This is a basic skill you’ll need to master before moving on to doing left turns, which is a bit more complex.

Right turns: the basics 

As you approach the intersection, check your rear view mirror to see if anyone is behind you. Start reducing your speed.

Make sure you signal well in advance so you can notify everyone around you about your intention of turning right. Avoid signaling too early—sometimes, there are alleys or driveways before the intersection.

As you approach the intersection, “lean in” and keep to the right side of the road. Typically, we recommend about 1 metre of space between your car and the curb. If there isn’t a stop sign, then proceed with caution, keeping an eye out for other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists or any oncoming cars turning left.

Turning right at a stop sign or red light

If you need to stop because of a stop sign or red light, then you should do a full stop,  check for pedestrians, and roll out slowly with a quarter turn of the steering wheel. Starting with a quarter turn allows you to angle your car to the right so you can complete a proper, tight right turn.

Stop a second time where you can properly see up and down the street so you can see if cars are coming. We recommend checking the street 3 times each (6 times in total) in this process. If it is safe, then please proceed with caution.

Look ahead towards where you’re turning. Focus on where you want to end up. Once you complete your turn, straighten your vehicle using the hand-over-hand steering technique shown by your instructor.

Don’t forget to shoulder check! 

Turning right is also where you start to learn the importance of the shoulder check.

Doing a proper shoulder check can be the difference between passing your road test or not. More importantly, doing a shoulder check can literally save your life—it can be the very thing that saves you from a car accident.

Doing a shoulder check can literally save your life. 

You need to do a shoulder check any time you change lanes, change direction or turn. You also need to do a shoulder check when you pull out from the side of the road or as you pull over to the side of the road.


Do a shoulder check to the direction at which you are turning. You do shoulder checks because you need to ensure other road users aren’t in your blind spot. Look at least 45 degrees over your shoulder in the direction you plan to move to. You might want to stretch our your neck before heading to your driving lessons because you’ll do a lot of shoulder checks.

Why one shoulder check isn’t enough

At SenSen Driving School, we recommend you do two shoulder checks at every right turn. Do the first one when you signal. This one is done quite early because you want to make sure you are aware of your surroundings. At this point, if you see a cyclist, for instance, you have enough time to appropriately react.

The second shoulder check is done before you decide you want to turn. You want to check a second time because if you had to stop at the intersection because of a stop sign, red light or pedestrians, a cyclist can catch up to you and pull right beside you without you even noticing.

Turn to the correct lane

Lane tracking simply means getting your vehicle into the right lane when you complete your turn. Your instructor will discuss lane tracking with you during your lesson, but it won’t hurt if you check out ICBC’s manual, Understanding Intersections.


Not all intersections are the same, so sometimes you’re turning on a single lane and sometimes you’re turning to a road with multiple lanes. But you want to always turn into the closest lane of the cross street—unless the closest lane is a reserved lane.


Sometimes your right turn isn’t just a simple turn. Some intersections have a special yield lane. If this is the case, you need to slow down as you approach the turn and signal well in advance. Make sure you remember to do your first shoulder check when you signal for cyclists.

Yield signs are exactly that—signs that tell you to yield to pedestrians and cars. Yield signs are not stop signs, but approach with caution.

If you need to stop for pedestrians, then stop before the crosswalk. If there are no pedestrians then proceed with caution and wait after the crosswalk for cars. Never wait and sit on top of the crosswalk as that is a violation.

If there are no cars or pedestrians as you approach the intersection, this doesn’t mean you drive past the sign at full speed. We recommend you still slow down. The optimum turning speed is 15 to 20 km per hour. Remember to do your second shoulder check before you decide if it is safe to go. Two shoulder checks are important!

The optimum turning speed when doing a right turn is 15 to 20 kph. 

Turning right smoothly

Be careful when you are turning—don’t cut the corner. You need to pull out far enough as you start your turn. (This will take practice, but your driving instructor will help you get there.)


Don’t steer too wide either. This could happen if you:

  • Pull out too much before turning
  • Don’t steer enough
  • Accelerate too hard in the beginning
  • Don’t move over far enough to the right
  • Don’t look into where you were turning

Your instructor will give you constant feedback so you can master the skills required to doing right turns properly and safely. Everything we discussed here is just tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that your instructor will be teaching you about this basic but very important skill.

Feel free to contact SenSen Driving School to get started with your driving lessons today. We would be more than happy help! Looking forward to working with you all. 



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