Rules of the Road: Can I drive on wrong side of road to retrieve mail from my box?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 29, 2013 

Question: Is it permissible to momentarily drive into the opposite lane of a two-lane county road to quickly grab mail through a rolled-down window? (Given of course that the road is clear, in a passing zone, and there are no oncoming vehicles.) It is quite convenient to not have to park the car and step out each time. I actually see this being done all the time but mostly in the county and have always wondered if this kind of practice is allowed or not.

Answer: RCW 46.61.100 is one of a number of laws dealing with driving on the roadway. It requires you to drive on the right side of the road with limited exceptions. Pulling over to pick up the mail is not one of them.

Q: I am very concerned with the yield sign at the southbound on-ramp at West Bakerview Road. Sometimes cars making a left onto the freeway will turn in front of the opposing lane that is going straight. Sometimes I think the cars turning left think all traffic should yield to them, and it is very dangerous. What is the reason for this yield sign? I think it should go away.

A: The reason for the yield sign is to allow traffic that is westbound on Bakerview Road to be able to turn left onto the on-ramp and clear the congestion on the bridge deck. The yield sign applies only to the vehicles that are eastbound on Bakerview Road and making the right turn onto the southbound on-ramp for the freeway. The vehicles that are in the straight through lane on Bakerview Road eastbound have the right of way over the vehicles that are wishing to make the left turn onto the freeway. RCW 46.61.185 covers this issue.


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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.

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