New Jersey Jug Handles and Other Alternative Intersections


Alternative intersections are changing American roads. Find out more about New Jersey jug handle intersections and how they work.

One of my favorite movie driving scenes of all times is in “European Vacation” when Chevy Chase is trying to maneuver a roundabout in London.  Hysterically he says after their umpteenth time around, “It’s amazing, I cannot get left!”  I know I’ve definitely felt that way once or twice while trying to figure out a new driving scenario.

With growing traffic and pollution concerns nationwide, city planners are constantly looking for innovative ways to keep drivers moving. As a result, new alternative intersections are becoming more common on city roads. Continuous flow intersections, roundabouts, bowtie intersections —the list goes on!

It should come as no shock that in a state where drivers are required to honk when passing, unique intersections are commonplace. In New Jersey, traffic has been kept moving for years through jug handles. With over 600 in use, you had better become familiar with them fast if you’re going to be visiting the Garden State anytime soon! And they’re starting to catch on in other states as well.

jug-handleWhile the term “jug handle” may seem like a goofy reference to a moonshine bottle, it’s actually a unique half-loop intersection design. The idea is to keep traffic moving continuously, relieving congestion and delays. The jug handle is actually a type of ramp, or slip road, which allows drivers to change directions (left to right) without disruptive stops or U-turns. Instead of making a left turn from the left lane, drivers use a ramp on the right side of the road that takes you off the road you’re currently travelling on and loops you back around to merge with traffic.

Right turns can also be made using a reverse jug handle. For this turn, the ramp leaves after the intersection, and left-turning traffic loops around to the right to merge with the crossroad before the intersection.

Safely maneuvering through some of these new intersections can be tricky. Are you familiar with the changing landscape of your city? You might want to consider a defensive driving course to freshen up your knowledge. As the driving environment changes, so do rules of the road, so it’s always a good idea to stay informed.