Question: Is it legal to drive a vehicle with an animal in your lap? I see a number of people driving with a dog in their lap.
Answer: Under the law it is illegal if it can be shown the animal is interfering with the safe operation of the vehicle. It is not a safe practice for either the person holding or the animal being held. In the event of a crash, the airbag will deploy with enough force that if you are lucky, the animal and the driver will only be injured. Animals should have the same safety precautions taken as children. They make booster seats and harnesses that will help your pet survive a crash. If the animal is in the open bed of a pickup truck, the animal is required to be restrained to prevent it from getting out of, or being thrown from, the vehicle.
Q: I live on Plymouth Drive, the last street just south of St. Joseph hospital that crosses Ellis Street. At least twice per day the traffic exiting the hospital headed south to Sunset Drive and Interstate 5 is so heavy that you cannot take a left turn onto Ellis from Plymouth without seriously risking an accident. The traffic just never stops.
I think we are the only intersection like this; on the other side of the hospital the road leads all the way to Meridian Street with a traffic light. My street only has a stop sign and no light onto Ellis with all that traffic from the hospital. How can I request the city of Bellingham look into adding some form of traffic management so we can pull out of our own street onto Ellis? Is there not a requirement that people lined up from the hospital to Sunset for the left turn toward I-5 not block our street exit?
A: You would need to put in the request to the public works traffic engineers to look at the situation. It will help them if you can give them fairly specific times that you see the problem. Yes, there is a law that says you may not block the intersection. That does not necessarily mean you would be able to pull out from your street onto Ellis because then you would be blocking the intersection, unless you were going straight through the intersection on Plymouth.
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David Wright is a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.