The End of Left Turn Jughandles in New Jersey?

For the first time in a decade, a bill (NJ bill no. 309) was put in front of the New Jersey State Senate this week proposes that the state place a ban on the construction of new jughandles from being built on any road, including highways.  State Senator James Holzapfel of the State Transportation Committee was one of the members who promoted the bill says that the turns do not serve as more convenient or safe option given modern levels of traffic.

The proposed alternative are traffic controls that would let you exit highways and roads to the right and intersections that would let you turn left directly onto the road you are turning on instead of having to loop around.

There was, however, opposition to the bill.  The State Senator from Camden said in a statement that State engineers didn’t currently have a  good enough plan or alternative to the looped left turns.

New Jersey has had an interesting history with jughandle turns.  Other states have jughandles, but it is reported that New Jersey has the most.  The first such turn is reported to have been constructed in 1959 on Rt. 46 in Montville, NJ.  They were first constructed to help traffic flow by having a lane that allowed drivers who were exiting to remove themselves from the faster-travelling lanes for continuing travel.  The turn caught on and by the time one year had passed since the first turn’s construction, New Jersey boasted 160 jughandle turns in operation.

These days, opponents of the system say that the disadvantages (mainly confusion) outweigh the intended advantages.  Since the turns are foreign to drivers from so many other states, and New Jersey is frequented by drivers from so many other states, it actually may have the opposite of the intended effect as drivers have to slow down to figure the signals out or veer over two lanes at the last second.

State Senators are reportedly going to hear testimony from the DOT and make a decision whether to proceed with a vote on the bill.

What do you think? Should left hand ‘jughandle’ turns be abolished in New Jersey?

Have you ever missed your turn and had to go a mile out of your way in order to pull a u-turn? Have you ever got into a car accident from someone trying to catch a left turn at the last second? Let us know.

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