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Is it OK to be an intersection creep?

It's OK for drivers waiting to take a left turn to pull into the intersection, as long as they are actually going to make the turn successfully. (SDOT)

Is it legal for drivers to pull into an intersection while waiting to make a left turn?

Some people say “of course.” Others say you have to stay behind the white line and wait.

Chokepoints: Is Sound Transit pulling a fast one with the 592 bus route?

So which is it?

Brad Benfield with the Department of Licensing said, “A vehicle turning left at a signal-controlled intersection is allowed to enter the intersection if the light is green and wait for a safe gap in traffic to complete the turn. In heavy traffic, this might be when oncoming traffic stops for a yellow or red signal. Once oncoming traffic stops, the vehicle is allowed to complete the turn.

A vehicle waiting behind the white stop line cannot enter the intersection once the light turns yellow or red. Because of this, a left-turning driver who doesn’t enter the intersection on a green light may be trapped behind the white stop line for many cycles of the traffic light. This will not only cost the driver extra time, but it will frustrate any drivers behind also waiting to turn left.”

There is a confusing part to this because the law and the driver’s manual reads that you cannot enter an intersection unless you can get through it. So you can’t block the box, take that left, and end up stuck in the intersection.

It sounds like you can edge out into the intersection while waiting to make your turn, but just make sure there’s room for you to complete your turn.

Tell Chris about a Chokepoint or ask a traffic question @kirortraffic via Twitter.

About the Author

Chris Sullivan

Chris Sullivan is a traffic reporter for KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He cares deeply about the amount of time you spend sitting in Seattle traffic. Email Chris at csullivan@kiroradio.com

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