Rules of the Road: Who has right of way turning onto one-way street?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 1, 2013 

Question: Who has the right of way when turning onto a one-way street?

For example: I was heading east on Indian Street (two-way traffic) and was stopped at the intersection with East Holly Street (one way) ready to make a left turn toward downtown. There was another car across the intersection making a right turn onto Holly Street. When the light turned green, I let the other car go first, as I assumed that they had the right of way because they were not crossing any lanes of traffic and I was.

I then turned as they initiated their turn. They then proceeded to not turn into the nearest lane as I was taught was the law, but crossed all the way to the farthest left lane of East Holly Street, cutting me off.

My question is twofold. Who had the right of way (who gets to turn first?) and had we collided, whose fault would it have been?

Answer: Excellent choice to see if the vehicle across was actually going to turn before you started. At that location, with both turning onto East Holly, you should have been able to turn at the same time. As the RCW below shows, the vehicle making the right turn should have made the turn into the curb lane, not come all the way across three lanes of traffic.

RCW 46.61.290 Required position and method of turning at intersections: The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:

1. Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

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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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