Tag Archives: yield sign

Left turners vs. right turners at yield sign

The in basket: At a recent dinner gathering of Olympic Thunder, the female motorcyclist club, a member asked me about right of way rules where a yield sign faces right turners who meet left turners coming the other way.

Standing driving rules require left-turners to yield to just about any other movement, but does the yield sign for right turners countermand that? The specific locations mentioned both are on Highway 308 linking Bangor and Keyport, at Highway 3 northbound and Central Valley Road southbound.

I told the group the answer is yes, but later asked State Trooper Russ Winger to be on the safe side.

The out basket: Yes, Russ replied, “normally the right turn has priority but, as you know, road signs, engineering  and markings such as the yield signs can control movement.”

It’s comparable to how a no-right-turn-on-red sign eliminates the lawfulness of a right on red.

90-degree Southworth curve gets unusual Yield sign

The in basket: Scott Hall wonders about the Southworth area intersection where Stohlton Road meets Southworth Drive.

“There is a stop sign on Stohlton, along with flashing red lights to indicate one must stop before proceeding onto Southworth Drive,” Scott said.. “Southworth Drive makes a sharp, low-speed 90 degree turn to the right at this intersection.

“Southworth Drive is obviously the ‘mainline’ road, formerly being designated as a state highway.”

On a recent day, as he sat at the Sholton Road stop sign as traffic from a newly arrived ferry streamed by,  “something strange kept happening,” he said. .

“As the cars on Southworth Drive got close to the curve, they didn’t just slow way down for the corner, some of them hit the brakes hard, and came to a complete stop. It appeared they were waiting for me to proceed, although I couldn’t fathom why that might be.” After several cars did the same thing, he proceeded.

“About a week later, curiosity got to me,” he said, “and I altered my route so this time I would be coming down Southworth Drive when approaching the same intersection.

“Lo and behold, there is a shiny YIELD sign on Southworth Drive, just before the 90-degree curve.

“(It) baffles me as to why there would be a yield sign on the ‘mainline’, which seems to cause drivers to lock up their brakes and stop for any car already stopped at the stop sign on Stohlton Road,” he said. “Looks like a great spot to create an accident, where common sense says the mainline traffic should NOT be expecting a yield sign.”

The out basket: Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works explains the reasoning:  “This mainline is really obvious to the majority of people that use this route frequently, (but) the motorist that has never gone through this intersection is vulnerable to confusion. That motorist would not necessarily be expecting a right turn to stay on the mainline.

“If both legs of Southworth Drive were uncontrolled a motorist traveling westbound could turn in front of a motorist traveling northbound thinking they being first into the intersection should have the right of way.

“The yield sign makes it clear that the motorist has to yield to traffic that is in the intersection or could be an immediate hazard to their movement in the intersection.

“If the motorist at the stop sign proceeds into the intersection before the motorist gets to the yield sign, the motorist at the yield sign must stop.”



Arrow and Yield sign puzzle drivers at Tremont interchange

The in basket: Dave Dahlke and Katie Ruley has questions about the Tremont interchange on Highway 16 in Port Orchard.

Dave wonders what the arrow at the downhill end of the northbound Highway 16 off-ramp there is supposed to mean.

“I see left-  and right-turn arrows in center turn lanes,” he said. “I see left-turn arrows and right-turn arrows signifying what I believe to be only those turns allowed in other lanes. What  (is) the purpose of a straight-ahead white arrow on the pavement on the off-ramp from Highway 16 to Tremont? “Makes me wonder if any out-of-town drivers assume the only option is to drive straight ahead which puts them  back on Highway 16 via the on-ramp.”

Katie is perplexed by the position of the Yield sign that assigns right-of-way to left turners coming off Tremont to head toward Gorst on the freeway, over right turners using the same on-ramp.

“If I am waiting to turn left into oncoming traffic to enter the highway,” she said, “it would seem to me impossible that I would have the right of way, but yet people do! And now there is a yield sign? This makes no sense.”

The out basket: The white arrows on that off-ramp and many others, which I had never noticed until Dave asked, are designed to tell drivers what not to do, not what to do.

They are a visual cue to anyone who has turned from Tremont onto the off-ramp that they ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!! It hopes to keep them out of the high speed highway traffic.

You’ll also see them on the mainline of Highway 16 near Haven of Rest Cemetery in Gig Harbor and in Gorst in front of Navy City Metals. Both are near places where drivers have a way to get headed the wrong way on a divided highway.

As for the Yield sign, I told Katie that a right turner  certainly doesn’t have to yield to a car that is waiting for traffic to clear to begin the left turn. But when the two traffic flows actually conflict, right of way must be assigned to one or the other.

In this and similar cases, says Steve Bennett, traffic operations engineer for the Olympic Region of state highways, giving the left turner the right of way “is more safe for all involved.

“The right turner is in a protected spot and can safely wait for the left turner to pass by. The left turner, if he has already begun his turn, may be blocking a lane if forced to wait for the right turner. This could cause traffic on the through road to make  sudden stops or swerve to avoid hitting the blocking vehicle.”