When you come to an intersection with a sign like this…
…and you want to make a left turn, and the light is green, do not wait behind the stop line for a break in the oncoming traffic.
Instead, pull forward into the intersection.
If there is another left-turn-yield lane in the oncoming traffic, pull about a third of the way into the intersection, or as far as you can while leaving yourself and the guy making the corresponding left turn in the other direction leeway to make the turn. If there isn’t, pull two thirds of the way into the intersection, or as far as you can while leaving yourself leeway to make the turn.
Yes, you will block the way of cross traffic, so that they can’t go when their light turns green until you have cleared the intersection; this is okay. In fact, this is the immediate objective. At some point after that green circle turns red, the oncoming traffic will stop; since you are already out in the intersection, cross traffic will have to wait for you to complete your perfectly-legal (YMMV in California) turn.
It’s the safest way to make the turn; it’s also the most considerate to the drivers behind you (who, by the way, would also appreciate it if you hung up the phone at this point).
This public service announcement is brought to you by the guy behind you in the gray Mercedes.
Next week: Left on Red from One One-Way Street to Another: Not Just the Law, It’s a Good Idea.