Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road: How far can you drive in a center turn lane?

Question: Frequently I drive West Bakerview Road between Northwest and Meridian streets. This is a four-lane road with a center turn lane that terminates into a dedicated left turn. I see vehicles entering and driving within the center turn lane 100 yards or more prior to entering the dedicated portion. I always glance over my left shoulder before entering the turn lane because of vehicles traveling at high speeds in the center lane. Are there rules for driving within the center two-way turn lanes?

Answer: The basic rule is a car can travel for a maximum of 300 feet in that lane, which is the 100 yards you mention.

RCW 46.61.290 Required position and method of turning at intersections (3) (c) Upon a roadway where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from either direction, no vehicles may turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. No vehicle may travel further than three hundred feet within the lane. A signal, either electric or manual, for indicating a left turn movement, shall be made at least one hundred feet before the actual left turn movement is made.

Question: My kids are learning to ride bicycles on the streets, and I want them to learn the rules of the road for their own safety. When at stop signs, courteous drivers often stop and signal us to cross. I tell my kids to kindly wave “no thanks” because the person at the stop sign has to yield to cross traffic. Is it legal for drivers to stop for bikes waiting at stop signs, and if my kid causes an accident, who would be liable?

Answer: Thank you for taking the time to ride with and instruct your children on the rules of the road. I am not sure if I could find an RCW to make it illegal to stop in the roadway for the “courteous driver.” The defense would be “I thought they were in the crosswalk.” The issue of the crash and who would be at fault is similar to what happens when a “courteous driver” waves your vehicle through his stopped curb lane and you are struck by the car coming up the center lane that did not see you being waved out. You would get the citation for failure to yield.