Teens challenge mom on common driving issues

The in basket: Tracy Anderbery said in an e-mail, “I have two questions for you.

“As an adult driver I’ve been doing things that my now-driving teens say is illegal but I can’t find the answers to them in the RCW (state law).

“The first is that when I’m pulling out of a driveway onto a four-lane highway or even a busy two-lane road that has a common turn lane, I turn left from the driveway into the common turn lane, stop, and then merge into the right lanes when it’s clear. I don’t drive or travel in this lane.  If I were to wait for all four lanes to be clear, I’d never get out of the driveway.

“Second, when turning right onto Highway 305 from Lincoln Avenue, you have to turn into the carpool lane first during peak hours.  It’s illegal to travel in this lane if you don’t have more than one passenger, but if you wait for the break in the solid white line to merge, you’ll be traveling from one stop light to another in this lane which could mean a ticket.  Can I merge over the solid white line without being ticketed?”

The out basket: I told Tracy that both questions are hard to find answers to in the RCWs and involve gray areas.

The wording of the state law about two-way turn lanes (“set aside for use by vehicles making left turns“) and the state drivers’ manual (“reserved for vehicles making left turns”) make it sound like merging right isn’t allowed, I told her. But in asking law enforcement officers over the 18 years I’ve been writing Road Warrior, only one said the practice is illegal.  All others say it is a legal practice. It’s certainly safer and I do it all the time in heavy traffic.

The law does specifically forbid certain actions (traveling in a two-way turn lane farther than 300 feet, using it to pass cars in the through lane) but merging right is not among them.

As for the Highway 305 question, the white line inquiry is easy. You can legally cross a white line if you are moving into another legal travel lane. You can’t if it takes you into a non-travel lane like the shoulder or the gore areas at freeway ramps (except to stop briefly), and you can’t drive across double white lines.

The gray area here is how long you can stay in the HOV lane during the designated hours to turn right onto or off the highway. Just get out of the HOV lane as quickly as possible.



One thought on “Teens challenge mom on common driving issues

  1. You only need one passenger (besides the driver) to use the HOV lanes on Hwy 305. It seems like they never ticket HOV lane violators on this stretch of highway. I’ve forgotten the HOV lane hours a few times while driving alone in the HOV lane during carpool hours, and have not been pulled over. It is hard to merge into the non-HOV lane with heavy traffic, and I doubt you would get pulled over if you are making an effort to merge into the correct lane (turn signal on).

    Sometimes I wish more people with 2+ in the car would use the less busy carpool lanes instead of the regular lanes with longer lines during carpool hours. Makes no sense!

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