Misconceptions about free left turns could cost drivers
We’ve all heard of the free right turn after coming to a stop, but a lot of drivers don’t realize they can also take a free left, in certain circumstances.
Several drivers on MyNorthwest.com commented that they routinely take free lefts onto freeway on-ramps, believing that it was legal to do so.
Here’s the scenario: They are sitting at a light with a red left-turn arrow. They turn left onto a freeway on-ramp, against the red arrow, once on-coming traffic has cleared.
They believe the law allows this. I wasn’t so sure.
The law (RCW 46.61.055, section 3-c) allows drivers to take a right after stopping at a light onto a “one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn.” It also allows drivers to take a left turn under the same circumstances, onto a one-way street in the direction of the turn, unless prohibited.
Some drivers believe that allows them to make left turns against the arrow onto freeway on-ramps.
I checked with the police, including the state patrol, and they say that is not true. Freeway on-ramps are not considered one-way streets unless marked as such.
So drivers who make that move could be subject to a ticket. The law was made for surface and neighborhood streets, not freeway on-ramps.