“Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.
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Q: I live next to a four-way stop. I have watched cars, city trucks, and a school bus, on a daily basis, stop, make a left, then back up through the intersection, and make another left to return the way they came from. I know this is dangerous, but is it legal?
A: Thank you for your question. I am not aware of a statute that specifically prohibits turning around this way in Minnesota. However, as you stated, it is not safe to back through an intersection or around the corner in this manner.
There are other statutes that may apply in certain situations.
Minnesota Statute 169.06, Signs, Signals, Markings require vehicle operators to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk (marked or unmarked), and also to yield to traffic prior to entering the intersection.
Minnesota Statute 169.19, Turning, Starting and Signaling, describes the proper way to approach and make appropriate turns. It does not specify backing; however an argument could be made for improper turn if not accomplished in accordance with the statute.
Lastly, Minnesota Statute 169.15, Impeding Traffic, Intersection Gridlock clearly states that vehicle operation cannot impede the flow of traffic at an intersection.
Red Wing City Code, Chapter 8, Traffic Regulations states that traffic at an intersection cannot cause an immediate hazard, regarding stopping or yielding for traffic – pedestrian or vehicular. Also, backing such motor vehicle into the lane of traffic on the opposite side of the street from where such motor vehicle was parked (stopped), for the purpose of or which results in such motor vehicle traveling in the opposite forward direction from which it was proceeding immediately prior to occupying said parking space.
In short, ensuring the safety of any pedestrians, and not impeding the flow of traffic, while ensuring that the vehicle does not face against the flow of traffic, the turning action could be considered acceptable.
References and resources
1. Minnesota Statute Chapter 169, Traffic Regulations.
2. City of Red Wing Code, Chapter 8, Traffic Regulations.