Tag Archives: right turns

Silverdale Yield sign at 3-303 raises a question

The in basket: Donald Hein e-mailed to say, “Southbound, leaving the freeway at Silverdale, at the end of the off-ramp two lanes are left-turn to East Bremerton and one lane is right-turn to Silverdale.

“More-or-less opposite the left-turning lanes at the end of the off-ramp is a traffic signal.  And, at the end of the off-ramp is a Yield sign, which can only apply to right-turning traffic.

The question is:  Does the traffic signal on the opposite side control only the left-turning lanes?  In other words, are right-turning vehicles required to stop when the signal is red, or are they controlled only by the Yield sign, and thus can proceed cautiously without making a full stop?

“This situation occurs most obviously when traffic from Silverdale is making a left turn across the front of the off-ramp, on their way to the on-ramp for the freeway northbound.

“The point is, the traffic signal is ambiguously located, and/or maybe needs a text sign added which clarifies its applicability,” Don argues.

The out basket: The Yield sign controls the right turn, and the traffic signals control only the left turns. Even without the Yield sign, right turners would be able to make a legal right turn on red after stopping and yielding. The sign was added to make it clear that stopping isn’t necessary if there is no conflicting traffic heading toward Silverdale, reducing backups of right turners.

If accidents become enough of a problem there, I would expect adding a stop sign for right turners would be the first step.

State Trooper Russ Winger says, “We do get our share of rear-end collisions here. Invariably they are caused when the lead right-turning vehicle‎ starts into the turn and then stops when they see approaching traffic from the left. The following vehicle driver assumes the lead vehicle is continuing the turn as they look to the left for traffic and they fail, in that brief moment, to observe that the lead vehicle has stopped.

“There is usually traffic stopped in the two left-turn lanes that hinders vision for the right-turning vehicle until they get into the turn a bit. Not a great design there, in my opinion.

“Myself and other troopers have investigated more than a few rear-end collisions with similar sequence of events. In my experience the‎ rear vehicle is at fault in most instances‎,” Russ concluded.

I don’t see anything ambiguous about where the traffic signals are situated. And I can’t picture wording on signs next to the signal heads that wouldn’t cause more confusion than they’d eliminate.

 

Driver worries about lefts and rights against red signals

The in basket: Yvonne Dean has some questions, she said in an e-mail, starting with one about an odd state law that I don’t see mentioned accept in the Road Warrior column and remains little known by drivers. It’s the one permitting left turns against a red arrow signal, but only onto a one-way road or street and only after coming to a full stop and yielding to any vehicles with a green light or to pedestrians.

“I have been wondering if this type of left turn would be permitted on Ridgetop (in Silverdale) when you are coming down from Ridgetop Junior High and turning left to go toward East Bremerton,” Yvonne said. “Before making the turn on red I assume you have to check to make sure there was no one coming off of Waaga Way who might be turning left up Ridgetop and no one coming up Ridgetop up to that intersection.”

Then she asks about two right-turn-on-red situations at 11th and Warren Avenue (in Bremerton).

“Tonight I was coming east on 11th and a fire truck was in the curb lane with his right-turn signal blinking,” he said. “He didn’t turn until the light turned green.  Can you not turn right at that (red) light after coming to a complete stop and having no traffic coming toward you?”

Finally, “when I am coming south on Warren Avenue to that same intersection and I want to turn right to go up 11th if the light is red I have stopped and check to make sure there is no on-coming traffic and then turned up the hill.  Is that legal?”

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger and Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police provide answers for Yvonne.

A left on red at Ridgetop onto the southbound Highway 303 on-ramp is legal if done with the restrictions Yvonne and I stated above.

But as I’ve said before, the odds that the first driver in line to turn left knows the law and dares to use it are so low that it’s usually not seen.

The right turn on red is legal on 11th at Warren. Pete Fisher guesses the length of the first truck would have required it to swing too wide to make the turn comfortably if cars were coming south in either lane of Warren. Fire Chief Al Duke says that sounds right. There’s no department policy forbidding legal rights on red, he said.

And the presence of the traffic signal that offers a protected right turn on Warren at 11th does nothing to negate the opportunity to turn right when it’s red, after a full stop and while yielding to any conflicting traffic or pedestrians.

Red light cameras mostly catch illegal right turners

The in basket: Mary Bulmer says her neighbor told her his nephew recently got a ticket for making a legal right turn on a red light at an intersection in Bremerton equipped with one of the red light enforcement cameras. She’s heard a lot of people have been ticketed for right turns on red and wonders how that might effect her, particularly at Warren Avenue and Sheridan Road.
The out basket: That intersection is not one that has the red light cameras, but Mary is right that right turners who don’t stop properly before turning on a red light where there is a camera are getting tickets.
In fact, I was surprised to learn from Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police traffic division that improper right turns are far and away the most often cited infraction caught by the cameras.
The camera at 11th Street and Callow Avenue, for example, between April 7 and May 7, caught violations for which tickets were issued for 146 right turns against the light, 45 left turns and only five through traffic red light infractions.
At Sylvan and Wheaton ways during the same period, there were 57 right turns, 23 left turns and nine through traffic infractions.
Right turns on red remain legal at the camera intersections, but they have to be done correctly. Sgt. Wendy Davis of Pete’s division says that technically requires stopping before crossing the broad white stop bar. But the department is usually waiving a citation for those who cross the stop bar but come to a complete stop before entering the cross street. Exceptions are when the person doesn’t stop until well into the intersection, she said. That often happens when a driver sees the flash from the red light camera and realizes he or she has been captured in a violation.
They waive an infraction in about 10 percent of the times the cameras record a right turn done against the light, she said.
I was glad to hear about that measure of leniency, because I’ve come to realize I almost never stop at a stop sign or red light until I’m across the stop bar if cars ahead of me don’t stop me farther back. Check out Colleen Smidt’s comment below for another perspective on that.
On its face, Pete’s figures seemed to me to validate my belief that the cameras are preying on the turners who run the light, rather than those passing straight through and hence probably moving much faster. They present the only real accident hazard, I have said in the past.
What I forget, Pete told me, is pedestrians. A pedestrian can be badly injured or killed by even a slow moving car, and pedestrians can easily be hit by cars turning against a red light.
“When you see the video, you get a greater appreciation for the hazards these violators are creating for other motorists and pedestrians,” he said. “Both right and left-turn violators threaten pedestrians. We have seen pedestrians shaking their fists or otherwise reacting when there is a conflict.”
The cameras take a 12-second video of each violation as well as two still shots. Those ticketed can go online and see the shots of their violation, but other members of the public can’t.
I was also surprised to learn that no intersection can have more than two directions of travel monitored by the cameras. The law allowing them limits them to two per intersection, and each camera takes pictures of only one direction of travel. He didn’t know why, it’s just the way the law reads.
Also of interest is the fact that someone who ignores and nearly hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk after coming to a full stop behind the stop bar can’t be cited for that on the basis of the photos. They can lead to citations only for red light violations, regardless of whatever else they show, Pete said.