Rules of the Road: Is signaling required in turn-only lane?


Question: Am I required to use my signal even if I am in a turn-only lane?

Answer: The short answer is yes, you do need to use your signal. If nothing else, it lets the drivers around you know that you are actually going to go where you are supposed to be going.

The following is a portion of the printed law: RCW 46.61.305 When signals required - Improper use prohibited (1) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal.

Q: I exit Interstate 5 on Ohio Street several times a day with my job, and I see many close calls with people making illegal left turns in and out of the King Street Shell gas station. Eastbound on Ohio Street says I-5 only and I always see turns into and out of the Shell station. I also see a lot of traffic coming out of the alley by the Shell station making a left turn to go southbound on I-5. I never see these laws being enforced and wonder if city enforcement is turning a blind eye to these infractions.

A: You are correct - there are a lot of vehicles that turn into and out of the Shell Station onto Ohio Street. Vehicles are legally allowed to turn into and out of the station as long as they are stopping either at the Shell or the Woods Coffee that is attached. Drivers that are just using it as a bypass due to the concrete barrier that prohibits turning from King Street onto the freeway, or from Ohio Street onto King Street, are in violation of a Bellingham Municipal Code that will result in a ticket if observed by an officer. I know that the Bellingham traffic unit enforces this law at that location. They are not able to just sit and wait there for hours upon end to write that ticket. The rest of the city deserves some attention for other traffic problems, too.


Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices.

Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now serving on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.

For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to

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