What to do when traffic fills the left turn lane

The in basket: At a recent class in East Bremerton for older drivers, sponsored by AARP, the conversation turned to the legality of stopping at the end of a line of vehicles that had filled a left-turn lane, leaving the backside of your car sticking out into the inside through lane.

It then turned to a similar situation, when the drivers behind the last car that fits in the left turn lane occupy an area out of traffic but striped to indicate it’s not a place to drive.

The out basket: Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the state patrol here, says that being part of a backup into through traffic is legal, but occupying an area striped as a non-driving area is not.

“It is not an infraction to stop and wait for room to fill the left-turn lane,” he said, “You should have your turn signal on, alerting motorists to your intent, however. Traffic often backs up at certain intersections during heavy traffic and requires vehicles to wait, due to the fact that the turn channels are relatively small. Most commuters are aware of this and if they are not turning left, use the right lane – if (there are) two lanes or more.

“And, no, motorists are not advised to back up into an area not intended for vehicles,” he said.

“They should wait until such time as traffic flow allows proper entry into the left- or right-turn channels, such as at the right-turn channel southbound on SR-303 at the Bentley (in front of Wal-Mart).

“Traffic often backs up at rush hour and vehicles have to wait in the right lane until they can get over to the turn lane. You (also) are not allowed to move over onto the shoulder and proceed – or wait for traffic ahead of you that has done the same thing,” Russ said.

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