The in basket: I came across a four-year-old inquiry from Linda
G, that read, “This afternoon, I entered onto Caldart in Poulsbo
behind a North Kitsap school bus. The bus signaled an intention to
turn left at Lincoln, and moved across the double yellow line
before the left turn pocket.
“I wanted to turn left onto Lincoln also, but waited to
move left until the pocket entrance was accessible. Was the bus
driver OK to move left before the left turn pocket opening?
“There is a space shaped by the double yellow lines that I have
always believed was not for drivers, but was a safety barrier of
sorts. What’s the law?”
I dredge up this old question, which I didn’t answer then,
because it meshes somewhat with this recent one from Tom Baker of
Bremerton about the eastbound left turn lane on Werner Road at
“The striped turn pocket is not long enough to hold the vehicles
that can stack up,” he said. “The choices are to sit in the center
area ahead of the turn pocket, or to extend out into the through
lane, Since the center area ahead of the turn pocket is wide
enough, that is the most popular choice.
“What’s legal here and had Kitsap County considered extending
the turn pocket?”
The out basket: Since the old inquiry came from Poulsbo, I went
to that city’s police chief, Al Townsend, for an answer.
I made a distinction between whether this driver behavior does
or doesn’t result in a collision.
“It technically is illegal to cross the double yellow line,” Al
said. “However, like all traffic issues, officers need to use
discretion and good judgment, much like drivers.
“If the driver’s intent is just to line up into the turn lane
early, either because it’s too short to hold all of the cars that
will turn, or that the vehicle is too large to negotiate the small
lane opening after the double yellows, or the traffic going
straight is backed up past the open turn lane, and the driver can
safely enter the turn lane early (as long as they don’t cross over
the second double yellow that protects the traffic lane of the
opposite direction), then they should be fine.
“When a driver can mitigate his/her intent for this turn lane
and do so in a safe and prudent manner, I don’t see any problem
with it, keeping in mind that the letter of the law is that you
can’t cross over the double yellow line.
“What would likely determine whether someone was ticketed for
that would be whether they did so safely (i.e. not when other cars
are coming at them in the opposite direction, did so slowly,
“On the collision portion, if someone does it within the lines,
the person who goes outside of that would likely be listed as the
major contributing factor to the crash. Hence the reason they
should do so slowly and with caution for other drivers.”
State Trooper Russ Winger agreed with Al.
As regards the Werner Road site Tom asks about, Deputy Sheriff
Scott Wilson says, “We recognize that, in many instances, the left
turn pocket is not long enough to hold all vehicles where the
driver wishes to make a left turn onto a perpendicular roadway.
This is especially noticeable during work commute periods and there
are many intersections in the county with this same situation. The
demand has exceeded the engineering design.
“Pulling into the center lane and then waiting in the area
before the turn pocket opening is not a violation that I can find
in the RCW,” Scott concluded.
Lastly county Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea said about National and
Werner (actually it may have become Loxie Eagans Boulevard at that
point), “We will take a look at lengthening the turn lane. This is
a difficult location to lengthen the lane because we are restricted
from widening the road by curb, gutter, and sidewalk on both sides
of the roadway; our pavement width is not adjustable.
“We will have to ensure that we have enough taper length for the
speed and enough lane width for two cars to pass without
sideswiping. These two parameters may limit or restrict how much
lengthening of the turn lane we can do.”