Turning Offences: Turn Not in Safety

Where a driver makes a turn the obligation is upon them to ensure it can be made safely

Turn – Not in Safety

The obligation is on the driver to ensure that prior to making a turn, that the movement can be made in safety.


Operate Without Insurance

Section 142 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act specifically deals with the rules and regulations surrounding safe turning on the road. It mandates that a driver must not turn their vehicle – whether it be to the right or to the left – unless they can do so safely.

This requirement applies even if another driver is acting improperly, e.g. the other driver drove through the red light, while the driver was making a left turn and an accident occured.  The turning driver must first ascertain that the turning movement must be made in safety.

This means ensuring that the turn can be made without interfering with other traffic, including vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Movement in Safety

The law places a responsibility on drivers when they intend to make a turn, and includes:

  • Turning into a Driveway: When a driver is preparing to turn into a driveway, whether it’s a residential, commercial, or any other type of driveway, the law requires them to execute this maneuver in safety.
  • Entering a Private Road: Similar care must be taken when turning into a private road. Drivers are expected to be vigilant, checking for oncoming traffic or any other potential hazards before making the turn.
  • At Any Intersection: This is one of the most critical areas where turning safely is crucial. Intersections are points where traffic converges from multiple directions, thereby increasing the risk of collisions. Drivers must navigate intersections with heightened attention and ensure their turn does not endanger themselves or others.
  • Leaving the Roadway: When a driver plans to leave the roadway, for instance, to enter a parking lot or a rest area, they must do so in a manner that is safe and does not interfere with the safety of others on the road.
  • Shifting from One Lane to Another: Lane changes, especially on busy roads, require careful judgment and timing. The driver must ensure that the lane change can be safely completed without causing disruption or danger to other road users.

In all these cases, the driver’s responsibility is to make these movements safely, taking into account not only their actions but also anticipating potential errors or improper actions by other drivers. This aspect of the law underscores the importance of defensive driving and the need for constant vigilance on the road.


The consequences of being found guilty of “Turning Not in Safety” include:

  • 2 Demerit Points: Upon conviction, the driver’s record will be assessed 2 demerit points. Accumulating demerit points can lead to a possible suspension of the driver’s license.
  • Out of Court Fine of $110.00: This is a standard fine that can be settled without the need to appear in court.
  • Maximum Fine of $500.00: In more serious cases, or if contested in court, the fine for turning not in safety can escalate up to $500.00. This higher fine reflects the increased severity or the refusal to settle the matter out of court.
  • Conviction on Driving Abstract for 3 Years: The conviction will be recorded on the driver’s abstract for three years. This record can be accessed by insurance companies and may be considered when assessing the driver’s risk profile.
  • Impact on Insurance Rates: Insurance providers often consider a driver’s history and driving abstract when calculating premiums. A conviction for turning not in safety can lead to increased insurance rates combined with an at fault accident which goes with many of these charges. This signifies a higher risk associated with the driver. The extent of the impact on insurance rates can vary based on the driver’s overall driving record.

In summary, the penalties for “Turning Not in Safety” are not just limited to immediate financial implications but can also have long-term effects on a driver’s record, insurance rates.

Demerit Points

In Ontario, the demerit points system is a method used to encourage safe driving and penalize risky behaviors on the road. Specific to the offense of “Turn Not in Safety,” the following demerit points apply, along with varied suspension rules for different classes of drivers:

  • Turn Not in Safety: Has a penalty of 2 demerit points.

For G1 Drivers (Beginner Drivers)

  • Suspension for 4-point Ticket: G1 drivers will face a 30 day licence suspension if they receive any traffic ticket that carries 4 demerit points. This is a stricter standard due to their novice status.
  • Total Demerit Points Leading to Suspension: Accumulating a total of 6 demerit points will result in a 30 day licence suspension for G1 drivers. This lower threshold reflects the greater need for caution among new drivers.

For G2 Drivers (Intermediate Drivers)

  • 4-point Ticket Suspension: Similar to G1 drivers, G2 licence holders will receive a 30 day licence suspension for receiving any traffic ticket that contributes 4 demerit points to their record.
  • Accumulation of 6 Demerit Points: A total accumulation of 6 points will also lead to a 30 day licence suspension for G2 drivers.

For G Drivers (Fully Licensed Drivers)

  • 15-point Accumulation for Suspension: Full G license holders are suspended upon accumulating 15 demerit points. This higher threshold accounts for their more extensive driving experience.
  • Mandatory Demerit Point Interview at 8 Points: Once a G driver accumulates 8 demerit points, they are required to attend a Demerit Point Interview. This interview is a preventive measure to discuss the driver’s record and ways to improve driving habits before reaching the suspension threshold. Failing to appear upon request will result in a licence suspension until the interview is completed.

Traffic Accidents & Turning Safely

In traffic incidents involving turns, the driver making the turn bears the responsibility to ensure that the maneuver is executed safely, regardless of any illegal or improper actions by other drivers.

Example Scenario:

Consider a situation at an intersection: A driver waits for the traffic light to turn red and then initiates a turn. Concurrently, another car, coming from the opposite direction, runs through the red light, resulting in a collision.

In this case, the police officer charges the turning driver with a “Turn Not in Safety” violation. The rationale for this charge is based on the following:

  • Obligation Before Turning: The driver who was turning had a duty to ensure that the path was clear and safe before proceeding with the turn.
  • Assessment of Safety: Despite the other driver running a red light, the turning driver should have noticed the approaching car and recognized that it was unsafe to proceed with the turn, opting instead to wait.

Addressing the Other Driver’s Fault:

While it’s true that the other driver committed a violation by running a red light, the accident’s causation is attributed to the turning driver. The reasoning is as follows:

  • The Turning Driver’s Decision: The accident occurred because the turning driver moved in front of an oncoming vehicle.
  • The Essence of the Law: The law exists precisely to account for situations where other drivers make mistakes. It emphasizes the responsibility of the turning driver to assess and react to such scenarios.

Both Drivers’ Errors:

In this incident, both drivers committed driving errors:

  • Driver 1 (Turning Driver): Made a turn when it was unsafe to do so.
  • Driver 2 (Other Driver): Ran through a red light.

The officer should also issue a charge to the other driver for “Disobey Red Light – Fail to Stop.” However, in terms of fault for the accident, it is attributed to the turning driver, as they failed to ensure the safety of their turn.

Legal Definition

Signal for left or right turn

142 (1) The driver or operator of a vehicle upon a highway before turning to the left or right at any intersection or into a private road or driveway or from one lane for traffic to another lane for traffic or to leave the roadway shall first see that the movement can be made in safety, and if the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to make the movement.

Signal when moving from parked position

(2) The driver or operator of a vehicle parked or stopped on the highway before setting the vehicle in motion shall first see that the movement can be made in safety, and, if in turning the vehicle the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement, shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to make the movement.

Mode of signalling turn

(3) The signal required in subsections (1) and (2) shall be given either by means of the hand and arm in the manner herein specified or by a mechanical or electrical signal device as described in subsection (6).

How to signal manually

(4) When the signal is given by means of the hand and arm, the driver or operator shall indicate his or her intention to turn,

(a) to the left, by extending the hand and arm horizontally and beyond the left side of the vehicle; or

(b) to the right, by extending the hand and arm upward and beyond the left side of the vehicle.

(5) Despite clause (4) (b), a person on a bicycle may indicate the intention to turn to the right by extending the right hand and arm horizontally and beyond the right side of the bicycle.

Requirements for signalling device

(6) A mechanical or electrical signal device shall clearly indicate the intention to turn, shall be visible and understandable during day-time and night-time from the front and from the rear of the vehicle for a distance of 30 metres, and shall be self-illuminated when used at any time from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.

Signalling devices to be used only for purpose of indicating turn

(7) No person while operating or in control of a vehicle upon a highway shall actuate the mechanical or electrical device referred to in subsection (6) for any purpose other than to indicate a movement referred to in subsection (1) or (2).

Signal for stop

(8) The driver or operator of a vehicle upon a highway before stopping or suddenly decreasing the speed of the vehicle, if the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such stopping or decreasing of speed, shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to stop or decrease speed,

(a) by means of the hand and arm extended downward beyond the left side of the vehicle; or

signalling device

(b) by means of a stop lamp or lamps on the rear of the vehicle which shall emit a red or amber light and which shall be actuated upon application of the service or foot brake and which may or may not be incorporated with one or more rear lamps.


(9) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (8),

“vehicle” includes a street car equipped with turn signals or brake lights, as the case may be.

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