# please explain "jughandle" traffic pattern

My neighbors from Jersey tried to explain to me how they make a left hand turn at an intersection without a light—something about going around to the right and circling around. I asked “oh, so there’s a bridge involved” and he said no. Needless to say, I don’t get it. I really need a picture I guess…One website I found (I think it was in Washington?) had a great picture, but to me it looked like a bridge was involved. Any clarification is much appreciated as this has been bugging me for a while.

Well, traffic that wants to turn left is made to exit from the right lane onto a road that loops around and crosses the main road at a right angle. The path that your car follows in doing this looks like a jughandle, thus the name.

I went to NJ on a business trip and I hated those things. I guess they’re OK when you get used to them. Is the goal to prevent accidents?

I’m having trouble picturing this, even though I was on them once. When you say “crosses the main road”, what do you mean by “main road”? The road one is turning left onto, or turning left from?

If you mean the road one in turning onto, refresh my memory how this crosses the right lane (of the turned-onto road) without interfering with the right-turning traffic (from the original road).

Ah, are jughandles only used where the road being left-turned onto starts/terminates? This answers my confusion and perhaps that of the OP as well. I was imagining an intersection where the road being turned onto passes through the road being turned from, not terminating.

Yes, at least this is the only place where I’ve seen them. So, without the jughandle, it would be a “T” intersection, where the “main road” is the top crosspiece of the T. So, if you were traveling across the top of the T (from right to left), but wanted to turn “down” the leg of the T, you’d have to make a left turn across traffic. With the addition of a jughandle, you’d bear right, make a partial circle to the left, and then find yourself at the traffic light at the intersection of the T, facing “down” the leg of the T.

Thanks Early Out. They have jughandles in Reston? I lived there (well, actually Herndon) for about a year and don’t remember seeing any.

Not that I can think of. The only ones I’ve seen have been in various places in NJ, in a couple places in MA, and, IIRC, in AZ. Here, they just keeping making the roads wider and wider, and adding left turn lanes (there’s one stretch of Reston Parkway that was 2 lanes in each direction when I moved here, and is now 6 lanes each way, if you count all the turn lanes!).

My first trip to NJ a few years ago was tainted by those blasted “jughandles”. I had never experienced one before and the hotel I was looking for was … on the left. Sooooo, to make a long story short, I drove several miles out of my way looking for an intersection where I could make a left turn. I finally figured out how the jughandle worked and got going in the right direction but not without a few expletives along the way.

I did exactly the same thing Ruby. You’d think my boss, who had been there before, might have mentioned these things to me, but no…

Not quite only when the one road terminates. I live in Southern New Jersey directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, one of the more crowded and urbanized parts of the state (my town has a density of 8,000 people per sq. mile.) There are numerous places where there are jughandles in areas where both roads go straight through. Most of the time they are at the crossings of divided US highways and other type roads with a lot of fast moving traffic over a lot of lanes which essentially makes a left turn impossible, or in the very least not safe.

The jughandles are the easy one to understand though, just think of it as an exit ramp that stays flat…if you REALLY want something to turn your brain to jello try and understand traffic circles.

Jughandles are the devil’s spawn, an example of design becoming too clever by half. Is Jersey still building new ones? I’ve only seen them on older roads, that’s why I ask. I hope to goodness they’ve finally yielded to the American Way: Flatten everything in your way so you can add turn lanes.

Yup. I’m also right across the Delaware from Philly (lovely place if you’re big on shopping malls and light pollution). There are also (a few that I know of) jughandles where you go past the turn (straight the way you were going), turn left at a less-crowded spot (Where you won’t cause a backlog of people who are waiting for you to turn), and head onto your intended road.

Yeah, traffic circles are a great idea, too: “Hey, let’s build a round road! WIth no traffic lights or signs as to who goes where! It’ll be fun!”

In addition to the ones that here there. I know many people who, in some ways, create their own jughandle around here. I can think of one intersection in particular (the Black Horse Pike and Kings Hwy. for NinjaChick’s benefit) where you will NEVER see a native make a left turn at the actual intersection but instead bypass it by turning a block before or ahead. They may be confusing at first if you aren’t used to them, but I have to confess, sometimes they not only prove useful but actually make sense.

Actually a jughandle turn at a busy intersection is a heck of a lot safer than sitting in the left lane waiting to make a turn and hoping the people driving in back of you are paying attention and notice your turn signal. It puts you into a situation where the right of way is controlled by a traffic light, so you know eventually you will get a chance to go across. If the traffic is heavy this is much better than waiting for a long enough gap in the oncoming traffic.

Jughandles are not just for left turns. Near me we have a divded road with one jughandle with two lanes: the left one for making what would be a U-turn and the right one that goes straight across into a mall. The vast majority of users want to make the U-turn, so the right lane is often empty. I’m sure you cynical drivers can see what’s coming here: the right lane becomes a I-don’t-feel-like-waiting-at-the-light lane. What a versatile road structure!

Thanks everyone…It’s a lot more clear to me now (the picture was especially helpful). Around here, we don’t have any room to spare for jughandles. Maybe I’ll see one in Jersey some time. This has nothing to do with jughandles, but the new thing here is that they’ve changed our downtown from a one-way grid to two-way. What a mess. I can’t figure how this helps traffic…now, everyone has to wait for oncoming traffic to make a left-hand turn. Anyway, thanks again for the responses.

I don’t think anyone mentioned this, but one good thing about jughandles is that the ‘left turning’ traffic is OFF the main road while they wait for their turn to go. If you have 20 cars looking to turn left, they’ll clog everything up if you have a turn lane, but they’re neatly out of the way in a jughandle.