|Found in Melbourne|
He moved the car into the LEFT-MOST lane and essentially parked on a green light in the middle of traffic. Even though the oncoming traffic lane was clear for us turn right, there we sat as far from the desired lane as possible. Of course, there were cars approaching from the rear, so in order for us to turn from the LEFT-MOST lane, the driver would have to look backwards to see if it was clear that direction, too.
In addition to just sitting there, our cab was blocking the multitude of cars and a tram waiting to come STRAIGHT through the light, sort of like that idiot who pulls his car too far forward through the traffic light and then blocks the other lanes of traffic from moving forward.
|Blocking the crosswalk AND traffic|
After a few awkward moments, Chris and I cut our eyes back and forth to one another in utter bewilderment. Are we supposed to get out? Are these cars and the tram going to ram us for blocking the entire street ahead of them? Is this guy asleep or what?
There we sat, yearning to turn. Eventually, the traffic light turned from green,... to yellow... Oh, crap! I knew we should have finished signed The Will.... panic is beginning to ensue...
SUDDENLY, when the traffic light turned to red, the cab WHIPPED through the light, turned right across ALL lanes of traffic, and continued nonchalantly down the street toward the hotel.
You can imagine what Chris and I are thinking at this point: We've gotten into a drunk taxi. And we survived! We should make t-shirts.
|Turning right from the far most left lane|
We didn't think much of it again until the day arrived to rent a car to drive the Great Ocean Road. As I was examining the map to exit the city, I noticed a warning sidebar explanation on Melbourne Hook Turns.
After reading about them, it dawned on me that THIS was what the cab driver was doing. Guess he wasn't drunk after all. This is just a bizarre traffic pattern in Melbourne. No t-shirt.
Shortly after that realization, I started getting freaked out that I would have to make one! Seems that hook turns are most often used on roads that have trams. And that's just about every road in the Melbourne CBD.
|Downtown Melbourne Trams|
(Note the Hook Turn Sign on the top of the photo)
If you're in America (or frankly anywhere that the British haven't tampered with mainstream vehicular directions), then this is going to sound confusing in and of itself. Typically, in Australia while driving on the left, you make a right turn by moving into the right-most lane and wait for oncoming traffic to clear (or a green arrow), then you turn right into the corresponding lane.
No so in downtown Melbourne (and a handful of other cities around the world). You turn right from the LEFT-MOST lane.
Here's a short description of what to do when faced with a hook turn:
1) Move as far as possible to left side of road, away from the street you want to turn right upon. Do not stop on crosswalk. Avoid getting pedestrians in your car grillz.
2) Wait until your traffic light turns yellow then rev engine. On red (or other team's light turns green) screech tires.
3) Turn frantically across all lanes of traffic and try to avoid giving whiplash to the passengers in your car.
Now you're probably asking if I had to make a hook turn. The answer is yes. Of course, I did.
I really tried to purposely not have to, but we rented a GPS along with the car, and naturally, it took me down a road requiring one.
How did I do?
It wasn't too bad at first, and I felt fairly confident about what I was supposed to do. It was a little unsettling to have cars starting to queue behind me to turn right, too. Now I have an audience watching me do something for the first time. No pressure!
I also wasn't sure what the protocol for secondary (or tertiary for that matter) cars were supposed to do, because there was barely enough time for the first car to make the turn, much less a second or third. However, I was the first car in line to do the frantic turn, so not my problem, right?
|Cars queued to make hook turns|
Well, apparently the second car behind me didn't read the instructions on making a proper hook turn, because they turned on YELLOW, not RED.
Being the competitive person that I am, plus having achieved first place by merely driving and parking on green before anyone else in the line, I felt threatened and dissed at the person behind trying to jump the gun before my turn. Therefore, I too illegally turned early.
Fortunately, there were two lanes for us to turn into, and the yellow-light jumper and I turned in sync to different lanes. It was a draw, I suppose, which was just as well since we could have collided. I was such a nervous wreck I don't know if the third car turned through the light or if it just had to go straight. Clearly, if you don't get to turn, you can't just wait in a designated turn lane for the next green light. You have to clear out so you don't get squashed by a tram.
So driving a hook turn can now be checked off my Aussie bucket list! Actually, it must be added to the list since I didn't know they existed, THEN I'll check it off.