Rules of the Road: Can a turning car block the intersection?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 7, 2014 

Question: Is it legal for a vehicle in the left-turn lane to wait in the middle of the intersection to complete the turn as soon as the light turns red? I frequently see as many as two cars making left turns against a red light while traffic with a green light has to wait for these vehicles to complete their left turn.

Answer: The simple answer is no.

RCW 46.61.202 Stopping when traffic obstructed. No driver shall enter an intersection or a marked crosswalk or drive onto any railroad grade crossing unless there is sufficient space on the other side of the intersection, crosswalk, or railroad grade crossing to accommodate the vehicle he or she is operating without obstructing the passage of other vehicles, pedestrians, or railroad trains notwithstanding any traffic control signal indications to proceed.

I know that the Bellingham Police Department has occasionally put out "Don't Block The Box" signs when they were doing some emphasis on this issue in the Bellis Fair area.

Q: When there are two right-turn lanes, can you turn right on a red light from the left lane of the two right-turn lanes? (This is a frequent question in this column.)

A: Yes, as long as it is legal to make the right turn on red.

ABOUT RULES OF THE ROAD

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 tobellinghamherald.com/traffic.

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