How to Turn in a Median in TexasApril 29, 2023
The Rules for Turning in Medians in Texas Involve Some Math
Pop quiz: When you’re driving and turning into a median in Texas, what side of the median are you supposed to stay on — the right or the left?
Who has the right-of-way in Texas medians? And what can you do to safely navigate any median in Texas?
If you can answer those questions correctly, you’re already a couple of steps ahead of most Texas motorists when it comes to knowing traffic laws and being able to safely traverse the roads.
Unfortunately, the truth is many drivers in the Lone Star state don’t know how to make a left-hand turn into a median. And they don’t realize that:
- The laws governing median turns vary by state.
- The rules for turning into Texas medians can vary by the size of the median.
To help you get it right and stay safe whenever you’re traveling in or around medians in Texas, here’s a closer look at:
- What Medians Are
- How to Turn in a Texas Median Less Than 30 Ft. Wide
- How to Turn in Medians at Least 30 Ft. Wide
- How to Eyeball Median Width
- Median Turns in Texas: Why Rules Vary by Median Width
If you’ve been hit by a car in a median in Texas, understanding the rules of the road may not be as important as knowing your rights and legal options for recovering. For more on that, simply contact a Texas car accident attorney.
Medians Defined: What Is a Median?
Medians are raised barriers that separate opposing lanes of traffic on busy roadways. Often comprised of paved curbs, grassy areas, and some landscaping, medians can be essential to the safe flow of traffic by creating space that:
- Better divides oncoming lanes of traffic
- Offers an area for turning and making U-turns
- Allows drivers to safely enter and exit different traffic flows
It’s crucial to note that different states have their own laws and rules for how to turn into and navigate medians. While that can contribute to some of the confusion around driving in medians, these other factors can too:
- Driver impairment, like intoxication, distraction, and fatigue, all of which can interfere with perception, recognition, and reaction times
- Motorist inexperience, both behind the wheel and in a new area where drivers are unfamiliar with the traffic laws
- Traffic congestion, which can make for more confusing driving conditions, especially if other motorists are not following the rules of the road
How to Turn in a Texas Median Less Than 30 Ft. Wide
Medians narrower than 30 feet wide do not have a lot or any extra room for passing vehicles. As a result, here is what motorists should generally do to safely enter and pass through these narrower medians in Texas:
- Stay to the left side, remaining as close as possible to the side of the median that is closest to them.
- Do NOT cross in front of another vehicle that is attempting to enter the median from a lane of oncoming traffic.
Designed to safely use the limited space available, these rules for turning in narrower medians in Texas can be especially helpful on tighter roads in dense urban areas.
How to Turn in Medians at Least 30 Ft. Wide
Wider medians in Texas tend to stretch at least 30 feet or more. Consequently, these wider medians are considered to be intersections.
That means that drivers who enter a wider median should:
- Cross to the far, right side of the median, remaining closer to the right side.
- Cross in front of any motorist who enters the median from a lane of oncoming traffic.
With more space available in these intersection-like medians, vehicles tend to have enough room to safely cross and pass each other to occupy the right-hand lane.
How to Eyeball Median Width
Can you tell the difference between a median that’s under 30 feet versus one that’s wider? Can you spot a 30-foot-wide median?
If you can’t, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and there are some simple rules of thumb you can use to:
- Easily eyeball the width of a median.
- Make split-second decisions about what median rules you need to follow (and where you need to go and be) as you enter that median.
To that end, here are some no-brainer ways to figure out how wide a median is and when you should and should not use the intersection rules for turning in these areas.
Specifically, if any of the following characterize the median you’re approaching, then the median is likely at least 30 feet wide, and you should likely follow the intersection rules for turning in medians:
- The median appears to be at least half the size of a bowling lane.
- The median looks like it’s roughly 3/5 to 2/3 of the length of a tractor-trailer.
- There are stop signs or yield signs at the median.
- There are double yellow lines, dividing the lanes of traffic, in the median.
Please note that if you’re ever unsure about how to enter a median, do NOT guess. It’s better to pass the median and find an intersection to turn at, instead of guessing and making a mistake that could end up causing an accident.
Median Turns in Texas: Why Rules Vary by Median Width
On the surface, it may seem confusing that Texas has two sets of rules for turning in narrower versus wider medians. However, there is some clear logic behind these rules, especially considering the fact that narrow medians simply do not have enough space for vehicles to safely pass each other and reach the opposite side (without colliding in some way)
In fact, according to data from federal transportation authorities, narrower medians are generally riskier than their wider counterparts. Specifically, research shows that:
- Medians narrower than 20 feet can “decrease the level of roadway safety.”
- Medians at least 30 feet wide can “have a positive safety effect.”
- Median safety improves as median widths increase. This continues until medians reach about 80 feet wide; after that, there are no additional safety benefits for wider medians.
Now, you know the rules of the road for medians in Texas. Keep these in mind when you’re driving, so you’re complying with the law and so that you’re in the areas where other motorists expect you to be. If you can do that, you can greatly reduce your risk of a crash.