P Turns and Other Changes to Melbourne Road Rules

The introduction of P turns is one of several changes to Road Rules that Vic Roads has rolled out for specific locations in Melbourne. The new rules are designed to reduce congestion in areas notorious for traffic jams, but critics say they will only create more confusion. The infamous ‘hook turns’ mandated at particular intersections in Melbourne have long baffled visitors to the city and even some residents. Now, Melbournians are being asked to perform P turns when turning right at the intersection between Hoddle Street and Johnson Street and to observe new clearway times and places between the Eastern Freeway and the Yarra River.

What are the changes?

The intersection between Hoddle Street and Johnston Street has long been a ‘problem spot’, with traffic slowing down to a crawl during peak hour. The P turn system means that people wanting to turn right from Hoddle Street onto Johnston Street will travel through the intersection, do a u-turn and then turn left. People wanting to turn right from Johnston Street onto Hoddle Street during peak times will have to turn left onto Hoddle Street, do a u-turn and then travel through the intersection. It is hoped this will reduce congestion as cars will no longer have to wait at the lights to turn right, delaying traffic behind them.  VicRoads is calling this new arrangement ‘continuous flow.’

VicRoads has also announced an extension of clearway times on Hoddle Street and Punt Road between the Eastern Freeway and the Yarra River. Many clearway places have now been extended to 24/7 clearways, while others have been extended to being clearways for longer periods. For a full list of the clearway places and times, see the VicRoads website. The extended clearway times give buses their own lane on these roads during peak times.

The intersection between Swan Street and Punt Road will have single lane closures until mid-2018, while roadworks are carried out. The road work is designed to improve the flow of traffic along these roads, which are used by 330,000 every day as they link the major freeways.

How is it working?

Despite VicRoads assurances that these changes will improve the flow of traffic, drivers are complaining that the P turn system simply moves congestion along to the next intersection, where drivers have to queue in order to do a u-turn. Questions are being asked about how traffic is supposed to switch from the usual right hand turns onto Hoddle Street during non-peak times, to the P turn system when peak periods begin. The arrangement has been called ‘a disaster waiting to happen.’ Other road users have applauded the change, saying that it has improved the congestion around the intersection.

Why is it called a ‘P turn’?

The turn drivers are required to make at the Hoddle Street/Johnston Street intersection doesn’t actually form the shape of a P. The term is borrowed from the US, where they drive on the right side of the road and making such a turn does form a P shape . The RACV prefers the term ‘remote right turn’ as that better describes what drivers have to do. The RACV has stated that the P turns or ‘remote right turns’ offer a temporary solution to traffic congestion, but in the longer term suggests the removal of on-street parking on Hoddle Street to create a complete northbound lane.