CHOKEPOINTS

When am I allowed to turn in front of a school bus?

Feb 18, 2017, 4:39 AM | Updated: Feb 18, 2020, 5:48 am
school bus...
There are many instances where turning in front of a stopped school bus is legal. Just be aware of your surroundings, KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan says. (AP)
(AP)

Is it legal to turn left in front of a school bus?

KIRO radio listener Kym Johnson asked if it is legal to turn left in front of a school bus that has its red lights flashing.

Related: Should lawmakers OK lane-splitting for motorcycle riders?

If for example, you’re at a four-way intersection and there is a school bus with its lights on to your right, it is legal to turn left, according to the Washington State Patrol. You can take that left in front of a school bus with its lights flashing because you are not passing the bus.

Trooper Rick Johnson added in his response: “Due care and caution needs to be used as, at times, children are unpredictable.”

Drivers can also turn left in front of the bus if they are facing it. General rules for school buses: Slow down and watch for children; never pass a stopped bus on the right; opposing traffic has to stop too, unless there are three or more marked lanes of traffic (one of those lanes can be a center turn lane), or the road is separated by the median or by a physical barrier.

Are toll lanes ever just fast lanes?

The next question comes from Vicki Alonzo. She wants to know if the HOT lanes on State Route 167 and the express toll lanes on I-405 turn into the fast lane when those lanes are no longer tolled.

Those tolled facilities become open to everyone, without charge, between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. The express toll lanes are also open to all drivers on weekends. The HOT lanes are tolled on weekends.

The Washington State Department of Transportation says express toll lanes and HOT lanes are always designated as such, and they are not subject to the left lane for the passing-only rule — just like HOV lanes. They do not become the fast lane.

That said, on the sections of I-405 where there are more than one express toll lane, the left lane for the passing-only rule does apply. You must get over unless passing and move right for faster traffic.

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

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When am I allowed to turn in front of a school bus?