Monthly Archives: May 2013

The rules on signalling

 

The in basket: Rod Gross of Poulsbo writes, “I so often see cars that fail to use their turn signals for not only

actual turns right or left, but also for simple lane changes, that I wonder what the laws dictate in that regard.

“Is it in fact illegal NOT to use your turn signal when turning or changing lanes, and how often do the local, and state police actually stop and ticket people for failure to signal?

Also, what are the penalties for failure to signal?  Arguably they are insufficient because the practice  of failing to signal is literally rampant.”

The out basket: Yes, the law requires signaling any turn or lane change, even while entering or leaving a freeway or entering a turn lane.

Signaling while entering or leaving a roundabout is recommended by the state, but it is my understanding that a Port Orchard court case that nullified a DUI arrest says otherwise at single-lane roundabouts. The initial reason for the stop was failure to signal a lane change at the Highway 166 roundabout, so the driver didn’t change lanes.

If that ruling has been overturned, I’m hoping someone will set me straight.

I added to Ross’s inquiry when I passed it along to State  Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the patrol here. It admittedly was self-serving because 69-year-old me is a text-book example of an aged driver who regularly forgets to turn off his turn signal after a lane change.

I asked if that is a violation, if the signal must continue throughout the lane change or turn or can be stopped as the turn begins, when I’m more likely to remember.

Russ said, “The law states that you must signal for ‘not less than the last 100 feet traveled’ prior to turning or moving left or right. Could you turn the signal off after 100 feet and then move left or right ? According to the RCW, yes, as long as you immediately start the movement into the other lane. Any lengthy delay  -a second or two at most – would give another motorist reason to believe that the driver either mis-signaled or decided not to change lanes.

“The whole idea behind signaling a turn or lane change is to alert other drivers that SOMETHING is about to occur with a vehicles path or direction of travel.”

Bad news for me on the leaving-the-signal-on front. “Yes,” Russ said, “it is a violation to leave your signal on long after a lane change is complete. Again, driving down the roadway with your signal on with no intent to do anything is hazardous to other motorists due to the false expectations it creates.”

Signaling violations, including that one, carry a $124 fine. “Yes, we do stop motorists for failing to signal, improper signal, no signal, on a regular basis,” Russ said.

“To an officer, this is valid reason to stop and talk with this driver. It could mean several things. Possibly the driver just did not signal. Possibly the driver has an equipment problem, light out or signal indicator not functioning. Possibly the driver was impaired and did not realize the signal was left on or notice a lamp problem.

“Drivers that do not follow basic safe travel rules of the road create a hazard for everyone on the road,” Russ said.

 

Hoofing it on McWilliams Road

The in basket: I came across a five-year-old e-mail from Scott Frisbie, who said in 2008, “McWilliams Road by Rolling Hills could really use either a walkway or bike lane.

“It seems there is always a lot of pedestrian traffic walking at the edge of or on the roadway itself as the shoulders are extremely narrow.

“I don’t imagine it’s a priority, since the sides of the road would require a fair amount of excavating to be able to widen the roadway itself,” Scott said.

The out basket: Five years haven’t changed anything for the better in this regard, though I see more pedestrians walking on the north side of McWilliams on the eastbound upgrade from Highway 303 to the residential spurs  at the top than in front of the golf course.

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, replied, “I forwarded your note to Jim Rogers, who is putting together the Transportation Improvement Program for presentation to the (county commissioners later this year. He added your reader’s comments to the project file.” The program prioritizes road projects over the next six years.

“This is a good time to remind your readers that we always welcome suggestions for capital improvement projects,” Doug added. “They can submit ideas and learn more about the process at http://www.kitsapgov.com/pw/sixyear_tip.htm.”

In my experience, it’s rare for the county to take on a sidewalk project that isn’t part of a larger job, or required of a private developer as mitigation for adding traffic. On the other hand, bike and pedestrian lanes are very much in vogue these days, especially when seeking federal money.

16th Street’s red light cameras now watch only through traffic

The in basket: Sandra Hill was unlucky enough to be among those cited for running the red light while turning right at the 16th Street entrance to Olympic College in Bremerton while that still was a violation.

Her experience serves as a window into what one can expect when so cited, and raises a question about the rules at that intersection now.

Sandra, like many others who have been cited, said that as she looked at the two still photos enclosed with the notice of violation mailed to her, it didn’t look like she had run the red .

“(One) picture shows my car with brake lights on and clearly stopped at the white line while the red light was on,” she said. “Then another photo shows my car turning the corner to go towards the college, while the light was still red.

“The sign at that corner said  ‘Stop On Red.’  It didn’t say ‘No Turn On Red.’

“Now, of course, I’m not sure if that photo stop sign is still working,” she added, “because the city has revamped the entrance to the college, and made a separate right turn lane with a Yield sign at the merge with 16th street.”

The out basket: I advised Sandra to go online or to the municipal court office and watch the video of her infraction. Brake lights mean only that the brakes have been applied, not that the car is stopped. The still photos can be misleading.

Sandra and the judge who heard her case decided the video showed that she had made a rolling stop through the light, and she was fined. As is normally the case when one goes to court and doesn’t try for a not guilty verdict, the amount of her fine was lowered from $124 to $86.

“The court gave me three months to pay it off,” she said. “If I had needed any longer, they have a collection company which has a representative right in the court building, and I could have made arrangements with them to have a longer pay-off time, but they would charge interest.

“By the time I paid the interest, it would have been like paying the whole fine. So, I bit the bullet and made three payments, and did without a few things,” she said.

The red light cameras remain at the 16th and Warren intersection, but the one that caught Sandra is only watching now for straight-through violations. The revised intersection has a Yield sign for right turns, so rolling rights are permitted if the driver yields to traffic that has the green light.

The camera watching northbound traffic there is working the same as before the intersection was changed, watching through traffic.

City says it isn’t responsible for ruts in theater’s approach

The in basket: Suzie Womack-Pride e-mailed to say, “I am writing on behalf of our local non-profit theater group Western Washington Center for the Arts located on Bay Street in Port Orchard.

“There are several very deep and very dangerous potholes (I heard theater attendees have fallen into them!) directly in front of the building in the parking ,” she said. “I investigated and learned this area is within a 75-foot right-of-way deeded in 1886.

“I contacted the city of Port Orchard’s public works director and  he said they would not be filling the pot holes as ‘they do not necessarily maintain their right of way.’
“I assumed once the city learned of a potential danger for the public it would be taken care of, as it could very simply and easily be done. This small theater group has concerns of their own liability should someone become injured due to these pot holes.
“Please help us! We will do the work ourselves if we must,” she said, “but my goodness, it would be nice to get some community cooperation, especially from the entity that holds the most responsibility, our city!”

The out basket: She doesn’t exaggerate the condition of the area in front of their theater. While it would be hard for someone to fall “into” one of the depressions, they could be ankle breakers. But is will be up to the building owner to fix them.

Mark Dorsey, the public works director, likened the situation to that of a sidewalk, for which the abutting landowner is responsible if it deteriorates – or is covered with snow, for that a matter.

“Basically only roadway improvements are maintained under state law,” he said, “whereby roadway improvements include the 1) the travelled way and 2) the shoulder.  The state and the city only maintain the portion of the roadway included within the roadway improvement.

“In the case of the approach/parking lot for the WWCA,” he said, “two-thirds….of  their parking lot and their approach is located within the right-of-way.

“What she is basically asking the city to do is pave their approach and private parking lot using taxpayer money.  There are thousands of examples throughout the state where either parking lots, driveways and/or commercial approaches are located within right of way…..but that doesn’t mean it’s maintained by the taxpayers.

“The same is true for sidewalks…..it’s the adjoining property owner’s responsibility to maintain their segment of the sidewalk,” Mark said.

 

Don’t speed if using residential streets as a bypass

The in basket: Bob Miller, who lives near Evergreen Park in Bremerton, says the street work on 11th Street to the west has had some repercussions for his neighborhood.

“I have noticed a steady uptick in morning and afternoon traffic

as the trip down Warren north of 11th has become more encumbered with

vehicle volume and traffic lights,” Bob said.

“While I can’t blame anyone from trying to escape the ‘crawl’ that the

Warren rush hour becomes, I urge drivers who are bypassing to respect

the posted speed limits of 25 mph, and 20 mph when in the vicinity of

the park,” he said.

“As warmer weather approaches, Evergreen Park use will increase as it

always does, and more pedestrians will be out and about, especially

those crossing over to their parked cars or CJ’s Evergreen Store,” Bob said.

The out basket: It’s a timely warning, although longer hours of darkness in the winter make it as applicable then.

It’s been difficult for years to get from 11th Street to Burwell Street, so I have developed a zig-zag route along a couple of residential streets to avoid signals and speed humps for trips between those arterials. But I make it a point to stay at or below the 25 mph speed limit when on those streets, something I’m less careful about on arterials like 11th, Sixth and Burwell. I encourage drivers on the narrow streets east of and parallel to Warren to observe the speed limits there, lest more “traffic-calming” devices like mid-intersection traffic circles and more speed humps – or accidents – result.

I expect the widened intersection at 11th and Warren to make Elizabeth and Park less attractive detours for southbound drivers.

Unfortunately. I don’t think it will do as much for northbound traffic in the afternoon rush, and seeking help from Bremerton police speed enforcement may be required then.