Why No U-Turns in the UK?
Turn restrictions at a quiet location - U-Turn not allowed here
In Waze U-Turn means Course Reversal not specifically a U-Shaped Turn
End of segment course reversal is known in Waze as a U-Turn.
To some people, a U-Turn means only a U-Shaped turn. To some others it means only a course reversal. In reality, it can mean either, depending on context.
U-Turn has two meanings when it comes to driving, navigating and roads:
- Meaning 1 - A course reversal
- Meaning 2 - A U-Shaped turn
Meaning 1 - A course reversal: Three-point-turn or turn in a tight loop to the left or right or reverse into someone's driveway, or drive in and out of a garage forecourt or lay-by etc
Meaning 2 - A U-Shaped turn: U-Shaped turn to the right (to the right in the UK and left-hand-drive countries, to the left in right-hand-drive countries)
In terms of the little arrows that turn you around at the end of segments in Waze, it only means Meaning 1, a course reversal.
Waze doesn't care how you turn around, only that you do and that you end up going in the opposite direction from when you started.
To prove this, set your Waze app to navigate to a nearby place. Now ignore the navigator and drive to a road with a dead-end. Now listen to the navigator. It will say something like "Do a U-Turn" or "After 800 feet do a U-Turn". That's the proof. Waze does not care how you turn around, only that you reverse your course.
Not convinced? Find a road with a narrower dead end. One where you can't possibly swing the car around in one go. Waze will tell you to U-Turn. Waze really does not care how you turn. Waze does not mean a U-Shaped turn.
By the way, you can do all this without leaving your seat if you use the Waze app and program a nearby route then add a stop along a dead-end road. You can then read the turn instructions and see the U-Turn instruction at the end of the dead-end road.
What is the obsession with Waze not allowing U-Turns in the UK?
U-Turns are legal in the UK, except where there are signs prohibiting them. I notice on the Waze Map Editor, on most UK roads, of all classes, that U-Turns are restricted. Waze is not allowed to U-Turn at almost every junction node in the UK, except dead-ends.
Is this a long-standing policy? Yes it must be.
It may not be a stated policy but it certainly is the way things are done, like an unwritten law.
I did some tests to make sure that navigation actually works when end of segment course reversal restrictions are lifted and it does. It works really well. Having an end of segment course reversal available just about anywhere can help Wazers to avoid unnecessary driving. End of segment course reversals (i.e. U-Turns) can save miles of unnecessary driving!**
Obviously there are safety concerns and nobody wants to put an end of segment course reversal in that might cause Wazers to break the law, run into danger or be a nuisance to other road users. There are good reasons for having end of segment course reversal restrictions in a lot of places, but I have found many more places where it would be safe and sensible to allow an end of segment course reversal but it has not been implemented yet.
Why don't we allow U-Turns?
My guess is there are a number of reasons:
1. Previous versions of Waze did not handle U-Turns and so it was pointless adding them.
2. By default, all new roads are set with no U-Turns, unless overridden. Editors tend to go with the default.
3. Editors might err on the side of caution and avoid using U-Turns anywhere because of the potential dangers.
4. Editors may misunderstand what Waze means by U-Turn* and therefore misunderstand what the restrictions mean.
5. Not seeing any other U-Turns on the map, editors may believe it is a policy not to allow U-Turns.
6. Like in Politics, U-Turns have a bad image, a negative image, like you did something wrong so you need to U-Turn - Editors may not like the negative image of U-Turns
7. There may be a plan for Waze to handle U-turns automatically in the future that requires us to leave U-Turns turned off for now.
8. Why change a U-Turn setting? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
From my examination of the problem, I would say it is broke and it needs fixing.
So why do we need U-Turns anyway?
There are four possible reasons that I can think of:
1. Starting off, the car may be pointing in the wrong direction. It needs to be turned around somehow. A U-Turn is often the fastest and most efficient way to turn around.
2. When resuming after a stop, added to the route in the app. A U-Turn may be the fastest way to get back on course for the next leg of the journey.
3. Should a Wazer make a mistake and take the wrong turn, Waze quickly calculates the new route. A U-Turn is often the quickest and most effective way to turn around.
4. A change in the road conditions ahead causes Waze to recalculate the route. Occasionally the best new route means turning around. A U-Turn might be the most time-saving and distance-saving method to get onto the new route.
Does having U-Turns really make a difference?
Absolutely. It means a Wazer will be turned around quicker. In extreme examples, it can save a lot of time and distance**.
Currently there are not many U-Turns allowed in the UK, so when Waze needs to turn Wazers around, it uses the most efficient method it can find. It either makes the Wazer go around a series of roads in a loop to get back to where they started or it sends them to the nearest dead-end.
Waze doesn't care how long the loops are or how quiet the streets are that lead to a dead-end. Waze ignores the many opportunities to turn about. Waze has no option because editors have set "No U-Turns".
|If we remove a lot of the unnecessary U-Turn restrictions and allow more U-Turns, it will allow Waze to provide more efficient routes when re-routing.|
I would like to create a guide to help editors. Please review the guide proposal and the whole topic and let me know if I'm missing something here. Otherwise, if everyone agrees and there are no objections, I would hope to see more U-Turns appearing on the UK map, improving Waze a little more for everyone.
[Proposal] Guide to Editing U-Turn Restrictions in the UK
- Add U-Turn capability wherever possible.
- When allowing U-Turns make sure it is safe and legal.
- If in doubt, err on the side of caution and don't allow a U-Turn.
- Where there is a No U-Turn sign*** or in a No U-Turn Zone
- Busy or fast roads
- Going from a side road into a main road and back to a side road
- At roundabouts (go around the roundabout instead)
- At mini-roundabouts
- On ramps
- At traffic lights
- At box junctions
- At junction nodes where there is no place to turn (such as city boundaries and speed limit changes)
- On fast or busy segments of road where it would be dangerous or disruptive or there is no room to turn and wait
- On or near bends, dips, bridges or other road features where visibility is poor
- Where there is a nearby, safer place to U-Turn by continuing
- Quiet Streets in housing areas and villages
- Going from a main road to a side road and back to a main road (where there is room to turn and wait)
- On the road adjacent to where a parking road, a lay-by, or road such as at a petrol station is available where Wazers can turn in off the main road and wait to re-enter the main road
- At quiet countryside lane junctions
Things to check before allowing a U-Turn:
- Is this affected by a No U-Turn sign or No U-Turn zone? [If Y then stop]
- Does the U-Turn mean going into a main road from a side road? [If Y then stop]
- Is this junction node free from traffic lights, roundabouts, ramps and box junction markings? [If N then stop]
- Is the visibility good enough to avoid drivers coming upon a U-Turner too quickly? (Consider night and day and adverse weather)[If N then Stop]
- Is there room to turn around and wait? [If N then stop]
- Will the U-Turn disrupt normal traffic? [If Y then stop]
- Is it a fast road? [If Y then stop]
- Is it a busy road? [If Y then stop]
- Is there an alternative, safer U-Turn nearby? (check both directions) [If Y for both directions then stop]
- Answering the check list above, did any answers lead to stop? [If Y then disallow the U-Turn]
- When disallowing a U-Turn always try to make sure that an alternative U-Turn is available nearby and if necessary try to create one
End of Proposed Guide
* So what is a U-Turn?
It certainly does not always mean a turn to the right in the shape of a U. That's only the literal meaning. U-Turn means any way of reversing direction. A three-point-turn, go around in a tight loop, back into someone's driveway or any other way to get the car turned and facing 180°. This is the dictionary meaning of U-Turn and it is the Waze meaning of U-Turn when applied to turn restrictions. Waze does not mean a U-shaped turn, it means a course reversal.
** An example on my doorstep of Waze not using U-Turns causing me a much longer drive
Take the wrong turn at a T-junction onto a road leading out of a housing estate and you end up on a 3 mile round-trip, going over a mile away, looping around in another housing estate, driving over a mile back, just to get back to where you went wrong. During the detour you pass many suitable turning opportunities but Waze won't use any of them because no U-Turns are being allowed.
A more extreme example
Without U-Turns Waze takes you an extra 11.6 miles, an extra 16 minutes, when doing this journey with a stop.
The first part of the journey is to go up the road for 0.8 miles. Then a stop is added a further 1 mile up the road. So the journey in total is, go 1.8 miles then come back 1 mile, 2.8 miles altogether, plus turning around.
With U-Turns allowed, there is a convenient lay-by just 0.2 miles up the road and the Wazer would be directed to turn around here and the total journey would be 3.2 miles and would take 5 minutes. That's 1.8 miles to the first stop, 0.2 miles to the lay-by, 0.2 miles back and 1 mile from the first stop to the second stop.
App shows the 12 mile trip needed just to turn around
As it is now, without U-Turns, the Wazer is directed to travel to a tiny railway station 5.8 miles further away, to a dead-end, where there is hardly room to turn. The total journey is 14.8 miles and takes 21 minutes. That's 1.8 miles on A9 to the first stop, then travel 4.6 miles to A889, then 1.4 miles and do a U-Turn, then 1.4 miles back to A9 and 4.6 miles back along the A9, then the final mile from the first stop to the second stop.
Go 12 miles just to turn around at this unlikely place
*** A No U-Turn sign looks like this
U-Turns are legal in the UK except where this sign is shown. Whether a three-point-turn here counts as a U-Turn is up for debate in the courts at the moment as councils and drivers fight over whether someone broke the no U-Turn law or not. Here Waze should definitely not be suggesting U-Turns. Anywhere else, it should, if suitable.