Tag Archives: rights on red

Of right/left turn conflicts & speed limit signs


The in basket: Mark Powell of Poulsbo e-mailed a pair of unrelated questions to the Road Warrior.

He first asked about turns onto two-lane highways, using as an example the intersection of Highway 305, Forest Rock Lane and Seventh Avenue in Poulsbo. He asked whether a driver wanting to turn right on a red light from Forest Rock onto Highway 305 needs to wait for the left-turners coming from Seventh, who have a green light.
“While trying to turn RIGHT on RED most drivers wait for all vehicles to complete the LEFT. My contention is they are required to turn into the LEFT lane, therefore allowing an unimpeded RIGHT on RED. Am I correct?

“Secondly,” he asked, “when am I allowed or required to change speeds? I think I remember reading recently that if (for example) you are driving in a zone with a 35 mph speed limit and see a sign increasing the speed limit to 40, you may increase prior to actually passing the 40 mph sign.

“I have a daughter in drivers education and I want to make sure of my answers and assistance,” he said. 

The out basket: Turners onto a multi-lane highway are required to use the closest available lane of the highway being entered, so, yes, the left turners from Seventh Avenue are required to use the inside lane of Highway 305 northbound. That would leave the outside lane available for right turns from Forest Rock while the opposing left turners are in motion. 

I must assume right turners who wait for all left turners to go by are simply being careful and don’t trust the left turners to not swing wide and endanger them.

For turns onto a two-lane highway, the traffic with a stop sign or red light must yield to traffic with a green light, which might condition the Forest Rock right turners to defer to oncoming left turners even though the two lanes of Highway 305 theoretically provide room for both streams. 

As for when speed zones begin, officially it is at the speed limit sign, not before. Just as drivers don’t have to slow down to the lower speed when the speed limit drops until they pass the sign showing the lower speed limit, they are not entitled to increase to the higher speed until they have passed the sign showing it.

As a practical matter, though, citations for five over the speed limit are quite rare, so I wouldn’t expect it to matter whether a driver speeds up in the short distance between when the sign with the higher speed limit becomes visible and the car passes the sign. 

I would regard a speed enforcement in such a transition zone to be predatory policing, but I suppose it might happen. Of course, if you’re already way over the speed limit in the zone you’re entering, you’d be fair game.