Silverdale interchange is no place to try odd left-turn-on-red law

The in basket: Ben Pearson e-mailed to say, “I know that left turns on red are legal onto a one-way road like an on-ramp but can they be used at that odd intersection of Highway 303 and Highway 3 where you are crossing over the traffic lane?”
The out basket: Ben is in the minority, as most drivers don’t know that that is legal. I write about it a lot, but it hadn’t occurred to me until Ben asked that it technically would apply to left turns from eastbound Highway 303 to northbound Highway 3 in Silverdale.
It would be wildly unwise to try it there. To do it legally one must make a complete stop at the red light before proceeding and be sure no traffic with a green light would conflict with the turn. It can be done only onto a one-way street.
That Silverdale intersection is so long, with a hump in the middle, that it would be difficult if not impossible to see conflicting traffic that would make the turn illegal – and would risk a fender bender or worse.
“It would be a crazy thing to try and if there isn’t a sign already prohibiting it, there should be,” I told Ben, and asked State Trooper Russ Winger, my State Patrol contact what he thought.
“I would agree,” he said. “That would not be a simple left turn from a stop line to the ramp. You must travel several hundred feet prior to even making the left turn.
“The timing of the lights, distance and design of the roadway make that type of turn, at a minimum, unsafe. The intersection can be confusing already for some drivers not familiar with it and that type of action would not be safe at all in that location.”
But I wondered what such a sign would say. “No left turn on red” would mystify the great majority of drivers who don’t know a left turn on red is EVER legal.
Claudia Bingham Baker of the Olympic Region of state highways said, “We agree with you that drivers would have no idea what such a sign would mean, and we would not install it.”
It’s a moot point in most cases, anyway. Even where a left turn on red would be safe as well as legal, the odds of the first driver in line knowing of the odd law and daring to take advantage of it are so low it’s rarely seen.

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