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driving concerns

I was sitting at a red light on a one-way street with my left turn signal on when the guy behind me started honking like a maniac. It was red, so I thought I couldn’t turn. I finally did because he kept honking. Was I allowed to turn? And did I have to? Could I have gotten a ticket for just sitting there and not turning? – Abby, Mississauga

In Ontario, the only time you can turn left on a red light is if you’re turning from a one-way onto another one-way.

But you won’t get a ticket if you wait for the light to turn green, no matter how much honking you get from cars behind you, police said.

“You are permitted to turn but not required to,” said Sergeant Kerry Schmidt, spokesman for the Ontario Provincial Police highway safety division. “No one would ever be ticketed for waiting at a red light.”

Section 144 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act sets the rules for traffic lights.

At a red light, you can either turn right or you can turn left from a one-way onto another, “after stopping [your] vehicle and yielding the right of way to traffic lawfully approaching so closely that to proceed would constitute an immediate hazard.”

In other words, you have to make sure it’s safe to turn. Whether you’re turning left or right, you also have to turn into the same lane you started in.

“You must turn from the left lane of the travelled street into the left lane of the new street,” said Ian Law, president and chief instructor of ILR Car Control School.

You also have to follow the signs at the intersection. If there’s a sign banning left turns on red, for instance, then you can’t turn.

If you do turn left on a red at a one-way, watch out for drivers or pedestrians who may not know that you’re allowed to turn.

But if you turn left on a red on another road, you could face a ticket for running a red light. That’s a $260 fine and three demerits. If you’re caught by a red light camera, it’s the same fine, but there are no demerits.

While rules vary across the country, most provinces allow left turns at a red light from a one-way onto another, unless there’s a sign banning it.

In British Columbia, you can also turn left on a red from a two-way street onto a one-way street.

No provinces allow left turns onto a two-way street on a red light.

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Are U-turns allowed at intersections?

Am I allowed to make a U-turn at an intersection? I’ve always heard that I can’t, but I see people doing it. – Lee, Calgary

In Alberta, the rules around U-turns aren’t exactly straightforward.

You can make U-turns at unmarked intersections or intersections with stop signs, as long as there’s no sign banning them.

But you can’t make them at intersections with traffic lights unless there’s a sign saying they’re allowed.

British Columbia and Saskatchewan also ban U-turns at intersections with traffic lights. Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t allow them at any intersection

But in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and PEI, you can make a U-turn at any intersection, as long as you can make it safely and there’s no sign banning them.

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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