Dangers of the turn lane: First in time = right of way?

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Turn lanes are some of the most misunderstood traffic lanes. Not many people know how early is too early to get into a turn lane and who has the right of way to it. This is so misunderstood that many car accidents are caused because of the confusion on who has the right of way.

Today we will focus on who has the right of way when you turn into the turn lane ahead of other traffic and another car in front of you wants to turn into the turn lane and crashes into you. Who is at fault for this situation?

A number of driving rules come into play in this situation: When can you be in a turn lane? What can you use the turn lane for? Who has the right of way once you establish yourself in the lane?

The law on turn lanes:

RCW 46.61.290(3)(c) Upon a roadway where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from either direction, no vehicles may turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. No vehicle may travel further than three hundred feet within the lane. A signal, either electric or manual, for indicating a left turn movement, shall be made at least one hundred feet before the actual left turn movement is made.

The law on changing lanes:

RCW 46.61.305 (1) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided. (2) A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.


If you have established yourself in a turn lane by giving proper notice and are within 300 feet of your turn, you have the right to the turn lane as being first established in the lane even though a car in front of you wants to be in the lane as well. The earliest you can change lanes into a turn lane is 300 feet before your turn or the length of a football field. Additionally, just because a car is in front of you doesn’t mean they have the right of way into the turn lane. A car that has fully established itself in the lane legally has the right of way to that lane. A signal of lane change must be made at least 100 feet before the turn to give adequate notice to those around you.

Speeding and illegal lane changes can come into play to say otherwise on this one. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact your Seattle personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation. We are paid out of the settlement making it so anyone can afford to hire us.

Andrew CherinDangers of the turn lane: First in time = right of way?

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