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.

Related: I-405 toll lanes are not hitting benchmark speeds often enough

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.


Coffee Travel...
Chris Sullivan

Free coffee returns to a rest area near you this weekend

The free coffee is back. After a two-year pandemic break, you can finally get a free cup at your favorite rest area.
3 days ago
Trash is strewn along an Interstate 5 freeway on-ramp as viewed in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by G...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: A glance at current Washington state laws to avoid littering on the road

Littering is still a huge problem on our roads, but are you still required to carry a trash bag in your car?
12 days ago
Expansion joints underneath I-5 (KIRO Newsradio)...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving

If the weather holds, southbound I-5 will be shut-down this weekend through Seattle for the first of a summer’s worth of weekend closures for expansion joint repairs.
17 days ago
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature

The new site and app will allow more than five million users to add money to their accounts instantly alongside 6,000 new card readers and vending machines.
20 days ago
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Sound Transit passes fare reform with diminished ridership accountability checks

Sound Transit no longer has mechanisms in place to check I-D's and track who isn't paying in the first place with their decision to remove law enforcement from the fare enforcement process.
23 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Work to remove bumps along I-5 through downtown Seattle set to bring months of weekend closures

Workers are about kick off work to remove those bumps on I-5 through Seattle, but it's going to come with a heavy price for drivers.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Basic Washington traffic laws that are broken all the time