It’s high time to cut left turns


Try this one on for size. Unless there’s a stoplight, let’s make it illegal to turn left in Carmel, the way they do in New Jersey.  Now before you say, “Go back to the movie theatre, Andy,” let me explain.

Try driving Range Line Road or Carmel Drive any time during the workday, and what do you see?  Cars darting in and out of traffic to make left turns.  Apparently, most drivers believe that when they’ve waited long enough, they’re simply going to take lives into their own hands and make a go of it.

I like Carmel. I’ve watched it grow since we moved here in 1970. But it’s not a small town anymore. It is often impossible to turn left. Can’t you just hear the long-time Carmel resident’s thought process:  “This road didn’t used to be so heavily traveled.  I should be able to turn left here.  Well, by gum, I’m going for it!”

What would happen if we eliminated left turns?  For starters, our streets would be safer.  Such a rule would force us to think outside the box.

Suppose we’re traveling north on Medical Drive when it dead-ends at Carmel Drive. Rather than darting out into rush-hour traffic to turn left (westbound), we’re now forced to turn right.  Now we must either (a) turn around in the Fountains of Carmel parking lot or (b) continue to the roundabout over Keystone Parkway, make a 180, and proceed back westbound. Does this take longer?  Sure, but only by a couple minutes. Does this require a little thought on the part of the driver?  Sure, but it will keep him off the cell phone for a couple minutes.  Is this safer?  Infinitely!

The examples are endless.  Leaving City Hall and want to turn left (north) on Range Line Road? Fine. Turn right instead, turn around in the Kroger parking lot, then head north. It only takes a minute longer – maybe a minute shorter, depending on the time of day.

There are some instances where this simply won’t work. If we’re driving eastbound on 106th Street, and we dead end at Hazel Dell Parkway, and we are forbidden from turning left, how are we going to travel north?  OK, now we really need our thinking caps. The answer is easy:  Don’t use 106th Street. Drive up to 116th Street and approach Hazel Dell that way.

This would require a lot of No Left Turn signs, but then the construction of such signs would provide Hoosier jobs – and isn’t that what this past election was all about?  This would also require a learning curve on the part of Carmel drivers. And at first, there would be a lot of complaining. But think about this one for a day or two. Every time you witness one of those, “Oh, my, I can’t believe that guy (or gal) just pulled out in front of that dump truck like that!” moments, think about the corresponding right-turn option, and you’ll be surprised at how easy this change would be.



  1. Yeah, this sounds like a great idea! When I’m turning from E. 5th Street left onto Range Line, so I can get to work in the morning on time, count me in for hanging a right instead of a left! I’m willing to spend 15 extra minutes at the Main Street/Range Line stoplight– the only newly legit place to turn back south — and be late for work for the following reason: Obama’s reelection. That’s right! (Let me state flatly that as a trafficflow suggestion, this creates more problems than it solves when you have a bunch of angry Carmelites looking all over for a place to do a 180) But if people get accustomed to turning right when they should be turning left, Carmel will lock in right wing Republican representation well into the next century! This can serve as a model not just in Carmel, but in every place Republicans are challenged by demographics. Forget about kowtowing to pesky Latino concerns about their grandmothers facing deportation. When we turn right in practice — at the wheel — we’ll be more likely to do so at the voting both too. For this I’m willing to spend an extra 15 minutes that could have been spent brewing coffee at work!

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