Hook Turns

Hook Turns

If you plan to drive in Melbourne, watch out for the "hook turn" signs (above) and be prepared to turn right from the leftmost lane.

How to Hook Turn

In Steps
1 Approach and enter the intersection from as near as possible to the left.
2 Move forward, keeping clear of any marked foot crossing, until your vehicle is as near as possible to the far side of the road that you are entering.
3 Remain at the position reached under Step 2 until the traffic lights on the road you are entering have changed to green.
4 Turn right into the road and continue straight ahead.

Instead of moving to the right hand lane to turn right, you move to the left lane and stop (with your right indicator on) when you're almost half way across the intersection in the cross street. As your lights turn red and the lights in the cross street turn green, the vehicles that have queued for the hook turn complete their turns by crossing ahead of the vehicles that were stopped in that street.

Reasons for use
In Melbourne, the hook turn allows both the clear passage of trams and prevents right-turning drivers from having to wait or check that there are no trams crossing the driver's path. In the central city, cars are generally not allowed to travel on tram lanes, so dedicated right-turn lanes are not possible.

Hook Turns Elsewhere
No, Melbourne is not the only city to have hook turns, they are also found in Adelaide South Australia, Northeastern Illinois, Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan, Germany, Japan and Netherlands.

Doing the Melbourne Hook

BigBen has a Shockwave animation of the hook turn.


It’s the Melbourne traffic quirk that baffled the world’s oldest motor company. Just how do you get a driverless car to complete a hook turn?

When the team from the Mercedes-Benz autonomous driving program arrived in Melbourne to collect data in March, it was the hook turn that stumped them. After millions of miles of testing around the world, team leader Jochen Haab admitted he had seen nothing like it.

Eight months down the track, Mr Haab’s engineers have completed a test drive from Sydney to Melbourne in a prototype selfdriving car, finding few technical barriers to the gradual introduction of driverless technology here.

Mercedes-Benz sent a modified S-Class sedan to Australia as part of a world tour intended to gather data before the widespread roll-out of ‘‘ level three’ ’ autonomous vehicles capable of assuming driving duties in some circumstances.

Mastering the hook turn is among them. The test car also featured ‘‘ digital light’ ’ technology capable of projecting complex images onto the ground at night. Autonomous vehicles could use their lights to project their intended path onto the road, communicate with other vehicles, or even illuminate asphalt with a striped zebra crossing showing pedestrians it is safe to walk in front of the car.

One of the projected images is for the hook turn, and the car is being programmed to follow a path through Melbourne’s tricky CBD turns.

Mr Haab took a small band of journalists on a route from Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra and Albury. Cruising down the Hume Highway at 110km/h, the car was able to drive autonomously for extended periods without any human intervention, even changing lanes safely when prompted by a flick of its indicator switch.

The car features the same driver aids set to be offered as standard when the refreshed Mercedes-Benz S-Class goes on sale in 2018, save for the removal of a system requiring drivers to make contact with the steering wheel from time to time.

Next year’s S-Class will be one of several cars on sale with sophisticated ‘‘ level two’ ’ driver aids paving the way for more advanced ‘‘ level three’ ’ systems that can assume total control of a car in limited areas such as well-marked dual-carriage motorways.

Mr Haab’s team made note of tricky situations, recording 70,000 elements of data per second to update mapping systems at the heart of new models.

‘‘ We eventually have to come up with ways to deal with the unexpected. We cannot define and program each and every situation that will ever occur.’’

The machine’s autonomous driving functions performed nearflawlessly on a run over the NSW border with Victoria. But it was less adroit in the Melbourne CBD, where traffic lights, complex intersections, cyclists and foot traffic required more driver input. The engineers suggest that the roll-out of selfdriving cars will be gradual, initially limited to major roads.

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