CHOKEPOINTS

Basic Washington traffic laws that are broken all the time

Nov 29, 2016, 6:14 AM | Updated: Dec 19, 2017, 5:29 pm
Washington traffic, zipper merge...
Trooper Brian Moore once posted this photo to remind Washington drivers to merge like a zipper while on the road. Maybe we need billboards along the interstates. (Trooper Brian Moore, Washington State Patrol)
(Trooper Brian Moore, Washington State Patrol)

We see it all the time behind the wheel. The drivers who don’t signal. The drivers making illegal lane changes. The left-lane campers. The Washington State Patrol says it’s getting so bad on area roads that it’s been inspired to send out some gentle Washington traffic reminders.

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Trooper Brian Moore started with a few tweets heading into Thanksgiving weekend. They included drawings, arrows, and highway signs, reminding drivers about some pretty basic laws that are being broken all the time on our roads.

“It’s things that, us as troopers, need to remind drivers of, and by reminding drivers of these tips, we can ensure we get there safely,” Moore said.

Washington traffic laws you should have learned by now

State law requires you to stay right unless passing. That was one of Moore’s first reminders. Get out of the left lane. It’s something that happens far too often that drivers can get pulled over for.

Another Washington traffic law most of us forget: the state requires you to signal for at least 100 feet before switching lanes or merging. That’s really not a lot of distance at 60 miles an hour, but it’s more than most of us see.

“You’re looking at about a second and a half of signaling,” Moore said. “If you’re doing 60 mph, there’s nothing wrong with using that turn signal for a couple seconds. The one blink is not appropriate.”

Or not signaling at all.

There there are the drivers who lane sweep. That’s what you call it when you turn onto a road and go immediately into the far lane, without establishing yourself in the nearest lane first.

“State law does require that you pull into the closest lane possible,” Moore said. “If we’re making a left turn onto a roadway that has two or three lanes, we are required to establish ourselves in the closest lane and then signal our intentions to move into the next lanes to the right.”

Trooper Moore also highlighted the merits of the zipper merge and allowing merging cars enough space to move over. You should not speed up to prevent the merging car from getting in front of you.

He says these are small violations that can turn into big accidents, and state troopers will pull you over for them.

“The state patrol’s primary objective is traffic law enforcement,” Moore said. “And we absolutely pull people over for that. It is a violation. It’s something that, if we see and it looks like it is endangering somebody, or there is a risk of a collision, we are going to take the appropriate enforcement on it.”

Trooper Moore also tweeted about roundabouts. They are becoming more popular across Washington, and many drivers are confused about how they work.

Here is the simple rule: if you are entering the roundabout, you must yield to traffic already in it.

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Basic Washington traffic laws that are broken all the time