Tag Archives: white line

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.



Stay inside white line while turning from Riddell to Pine

The in basket: Deanna Dowell wonders about the legality of something she sees a lot, drivers crossing the white line when turning right from eastbound Riddell Road in East Bremerton to go south on Pine Road.

The out basket:  No, that’s a fairly common behavior that is not legal and can result in a ticket if observed by an officer with time on his hands. The shoulder in that quadrant of the intersection is very wide and lets a driver make the turn at a higher than usual speed for a turn, making it all the more dangerous.

Making a right turn so shallow that it carries the car across the white line is no different that crossing onto the shoulder of a straight stretch to get around a car waiting for oncoming traffic to clear so it can make a left turn.

I see this infraction often on westbound Sedgwick Road at the Highway 16 on-ramp, and at the top of the eastbound Waaga Way (Highway 303) off-ramp onto northbound Central Valley Road. I’m sure there are dozens of other intersections where it is common.

Crossing the white line can endanger pedestrians and bicyclists using the shoulder.

Deanna tells me she’s grateful for the information and has quit crossing that white line while turning. Pine


Crossing in and out of an HOV lane to pass other traffic

The in basket: Paul Lucas wrote that he and his wife have a disagreement “as to whether or not you can exit from the HOV lane to pass a slower vehicle and then re-renter the HOV lane.

“She says that you cannot cross a solid white line,” Paul said, while his position is “you can if, for example, the car in front of you is doing 50 in a 60 MPH zone, exit, pass and then go back across the white line. Who is correct?” he asks.
The out basket: Paul is correct.  Crossing a white line is legal as long as you are moving into a legal driving lane. Hence, moving right or left across the white line on the upgrade between Nels Nelson Road and the Ridgetop Boulevard interchange on Highway 303 in Silverdale is legal, by way of example, if you signal and yield to any vehicle in the lane you’re entering.

It’s also legal to cross the white line demarcating a left turn lane from the through lanes if you change your mind and decide you want to go straight ahead, provided you signal and yield to traffic in the through lane. Also, since most left turn lanes go first, it would be inconsiderate and perhaps an infraction to hold up the left turning traffic waiting for an opportunity to change back to the through lane.

Crossing a white line is illegal if it takes you onto the shoulder, into the tapering area, called the ‘gore,’ where an on-ramp merges into a freeway, or some other non-driving surface.

Where moving in and out of an HOV lanes is restricted, there is more than one line, often a double yellow, that ends intermittently to allow crossing back and forth. When a double white line is used on an HOV lane, the more common practice in this state, that also is illegal to cross until there is a break in the lines.

The speed of other traffic doesn’t enter into it.



Short white lines on roads mystify reader


The in basket: Lois Fetters asks about something she says has been bugging her for some time. 

She first noticed three white lines on East Center Street near Manchester, about a foot long, one on each shoulder and one on the center line.

“I first noticed them at the bottom of the hill at the stop

sign so I thought they were a cheap stop line kind of thing,” she said. “Then later I noticed two more sets toward the top of the hill. 

“They are not located by fire hydrants. They are not located where you would put a crosswalk. They are not located where the house numbers change blocks.

“I know this can’t be it, but they are located by houses for

sale or land for sale on Center but this does not hold true on other roads that have the lines. Quite the mystery. 

“Then this morning I was driving on Beach Drive from the Annapolis foot ferry dock towards

Manchester,” she said, “and I saw them every 20 or 30 feet for quite a stretch. They seemed to be almost one per house. Maybe…sewer lines. But then I

saw them where there was undeveloped land on both sides of Woods Road.

“So….I give up.  Please help.”

The out basket: Lois certainly thought of a wealth of possibilities, but she missed the correct one, though her final guess was close. 

The lines mark the location of culverts that cross beneath the pavement, so county crews can find them quickly during storm events and for maintenance, says Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works.