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If you miss your exit or need to change direction on an interstate highway or other freeway, you might be tempted to make a U-turn at a median crossover that connects with the opposite lanes. It’s a temptation you must resist. The signs warning that U-turns at freeway crossovers are illegal should be your first clue that the maneuver is not only against the law—it’s dangerous too.
“If you slow down to make an illegal U-turn at a crossover, other drivers travelling behind at highway speeds may not be able to slow down and react in time. And when you attempt to merge back into traffic lanes from the crossover, your vehicle will be re-entering at less than highway speeds and in the path of oncoming drivers when they least expect it,” says State Patrol Lieutenant Jeffrey D. Lorentz of the Northwest Region. “Instead of making an illegal and dangerous U-turn, you should proceed to the next freeway exit and then use the overpass to get to the on-ramp on the opposite side. It’s well worth the extra time and distance.”
Earlier this year, the State Patrol responded to a crash caused by a driver who slowed down in the left lane of I-39/90 southbound in Dane County to make an illegal U-turn from a crossover. Traffic around the slowed vehicle had to brake suddenly to avoid a crash. A driver who attempted to avoid hitting the slowed automobile, lost control of his vehicle and was struck broadside in the right lane by a southbound semi. The driver, who was hit by the semi, sustained serious head injuries.
By law, crossovers may only be used by law enforcement and other authorized vehicles. Drivers of these specially equipped vehicles are well trained and extremely cautious about using freeway crossovers. For all other drivers, a violation for illegally crossing a divided highway in Wisconsin costs $263.50.