This is kind of a two-part question:

Is there any circumstance in which it’s appropriate, when making a turn onto a road with two lanes, to turn into the far lane?

I see this constantly in St. Joseph on Niles and Main Street. I was taught to turn into the closest lane, like if you’re turning right, stay in the right lane until you need to get into the left lane.

Also, I see people turn on red all the time even at intersections that have a “no turn on red” sign posted. Who decides where those signs are placed?

Elizabeth, from St. Joseph

When it comes to four-lane roads (two lanes in each direction), the law reads that traffic shall operate in the extreme right lane unless passing/overtaking or turning left. There is nothing listed as an exception to the law in regards to this type of roadway.

However, with all that being said, if I observed somebody turn onto a two-lane road into the left lane, then make an immediate left turn onto another street, I would use discretion and understand from a safety standpoint why they turned into the left lane to begin with.

The traffic law that covers this question can be found under 257.642 in the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code.

For your second question, regarding the placement of “no turn on red signs,” the answer is a little trickier. There are several different reasons these signs get put in place. If the roadway is one that is controlled by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), they have control over the placement of signs.

The purpose of these signs usually comes down to sight distance, whether drivers have difficultly seeing traffic, or numbers of crashes. 

If some intersections seem to have a higher number of crashes than other intersections, this could be a reason those signs are posted. 

A municipality can make a request to MDOT to put up a sign due to safety reasons, but MDOT may deny the request. As for municipalities and their local roads, they can put up signs on their own roadways due to frequent crashes, safety concerns and/or sight distance.