Passing at intersections is illegal, regardless of the striping

The in basket: Bob Miller writes, “I moved into rural South Kitsap in the last year, and am slowly becoming familiar with the roads that crisscross the area.
On our way home the other evening, my girlfriend remarked that she was scared making the turn off Olalla Valley Road SE onto southbound Banner Road to get to our house, because there is a northbound passing zone that would seem to make collisions with a car making that right turn inevitable.
“I haven’t looked at it great detail, but when I pull up the intersection on Google Maps, sure enough, the passing zone seems a lot closer than one would think it should be to avoid the possibility of a collision.”

The out basket: Aside from the occasional “No Passing,” sign, the only indicators of where it’s OK or forbidden to pass are the stripes in the road. It was news to me that proximity to an intersection affected that striping. I’d always regarded driver visibility due to hills or curves to be the the only criteria that guides the striping.

I looked in the state laws and found that passing near an intersection to be illegal.

I drove Banner Road – and Sedgwick, while is was in the area – and noticed don’t-pass striping only at intersections near a hill or curve. I asked Kitsap County Public Works if I’d been missing something all these years.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer, replied, “The county marks no-passing zones where hills and curves restrict the visibility of oncoming vehicles.  We do this in accordance with federal guidance spelled out in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

“The requirement is solely based on the speed limit posted on the road.  If the road has a centerline, we are required to establish no-passing zones.

“Similar to other traffic regulations we do not sign or mark, we assume motorists are aware of the rules of the road and know that passing is restricted within 100 feet of an intersection.  RCW 46.61.125 (1) (b) is very clear that you cannot pass another vehicle near or in an intersection.

“If the county were to try and mark all no passing zones at intersections, it would be very problematic and not necessarily safer.  State law only recognizes intersections as where two or more public roads meet.  So private roads and commercial accesses would not be recognized as intersections and not striped for no passing.  In many cases these private and commercial accesses to public roads see much more traffic than a low volume public side road.

“Our county roads have thousands of accesses to them; both public and private.  A car can come out from them at any time.  When passing anytime on county roads, I would recommend using extreme caution,” Jeff said.


2 thoughts on “Passing at intersections is illegal, regardless of the striping

  1. On State or County controlled highways used by Commercial trucks, or other traffic noted the speed of the roadway is taken into consideration, visibility, curves or hills restrict overtaking vehicles or passing within an intersection. However, the commercial vehicle is much heavier and those travelling at the higher posted speed limit, takes longer to slow or stop. It is easier for the slow or stopped vehicle turning left to remain in place until the overtaking vehicle has safely passed. This is usually in rural areas (my knowledge of the traffic law in State or County maintained roadways in Florida) and often officer’s cite the passing vehicle incorrectly. I need to know if any such passing w/I the intersections of WA is similarly worded or is passing ever permitted within intersections in WA when another vehicle is stopped to turn and being overtaken by another vehicle?

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