Don’t swing wide in making your turns

The in basket:  Brian O’Kelley asked me to settle a bet he had going with a friend.

“My buddy says that people turning left into multi-lanes must select the inboard left lane,” he said. “Thus people across the intersection wanting to turn right on a red light can do so freely, regardless of the crowding and honking of horns.

“I say I don’t think I’m required to take the inboard lane, but even if I am, right-on-red turners have to wait for the intersection to be clear before they can proceed” Brian said. .

“Can you help us out?”

The out basket: Well, I could help out his buddy. Brian lost the bet.

State law requires left turns to be made into the closest available lane in the highway being entered. It’s another of those state laws that seem willfully obscure, yet remain unchanged year after year. It reads:

“The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicle on the roadway being entered.”

Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police traffic division and Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the State Patrol office here confirmed my belief that is interpreted to forbid swinging wide into any other lane but the inside through lane of the highway being entered.

It would be unusual for a driver to be cited for swinging wide, but I told Brian that should a left turner and a right turner collide in that outside lane, the left turner would be held responsible.

The right turner can do some things that might get him cited, too, like not coming to a complete stop at the red light or swinging wide himself into other than the outside lane if there were more than two lanes moving in that direction. But that wouldn’t  excuse the left turner’s mistake.

Krista did go on to say, “Even though the left turner would be at fault if a collision were to occur, we always remind drivers making those right turns to make sure the intersection is clear prior to entering.”

One thought on “Don’t swing wide in making your turns

  1. When I make a left turn from Olney onto Mile Hill Drive I go right to the right hand lane. If I don’t, drivers, who also are making the turn, will try and pass me on the right and then I am forced to make the merge. If the left hand lane was the thru lane I would turn into the left hand lane. However, the powers that be feel the thru lane should be the right lane. I prefer safety over the rule of law.

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