Rules of the Road: How do you signal parallel parking attempt?


Question: What is the proper procedure for parallel parking? Recently I was with my mom and we had to parallel park between two cars. She put her blinker on and came to a stop next to the car in front of the open space. As she was putting the car in reverse, the car that was traveling behind us swerved into the other lane and honked and flipped us off as they went by. People usually honk if you are doing something wrong, but it is legal to stop in the middle of the road and reverse (if you are parking), right?

Answer: From your description, your mother was doing everything correctly in her parallel parking process. Unfortunately, you ran into the rude and impatient driver who managed to shave five seconds from his drive by swerving around you.

Q: Recently I was southbound on Railroad Avenue and stopped at Magnolia for a red light. The crosswalks were unoccupied. I put on my signal for a left turn, and since there was no traffic coming from my right on one-way Magnolia, I turned onto Magnolia while the light was still red. I was pulled over for running a red light. The officer said you can never turn left from a two-way to a one-way street; you can only turn right from a two-way to a one-way street. However, RCW 46.61.055(3)(c) seems to say otherwise. Who was correct?

A: I don't recall if there are any "No Turn on Red" signs at that location that would make that an illegal turn. From your description, it would appear to have been a legal turn.

The section of RCW 46.61.055 (3) (c) that covers this is: "However, the vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may, after stopping proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; or a left turn from a one-way street or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn; unless a sign posted by competent authority prohibits such movement. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall remain stopped to allow other vehicles lawfully within or approaching the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall also remain stopped for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1)."


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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