Is it illegal to use a turn lane as a passing lane?

Every day it’s the same thing. You get out of work, excited to get home, and wind up stuck in traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue for an hour. Your anger and frustration grow with every minute that passes. Finally, the row of cars ahead of you begins to move. Unfortunately, the driver in front of you has forgotten where his gas pedal is and continues to slowly crawl down the street.

There is now about 100 feet between him and the car ahead, but he remains going 10 mph. Suddenly, you notice the left turn lane is completely clear. An idea springs into your head. Can you use the turn lane to pass him, if you’re not planning to turn?

Dangers of Illegally Using Turn Lanes

Turn lanes should only be used when you’re turning or merging into traffic; when merging you can only use the turn lane for up to 200 feet.

However, some people attempt to use a turn lane in order to bypass traffic congestion without ever intending to turn. This maneuver is both illegal and extremely dangerous. When you use a turn lane for other than its intended purpose, you could risk collisions, obstructing traffic, citations, and even severe injuries or death.

  • Obstructing traffic. Many turn lanes (especially in urban areas) can double as both left turn and right turn lanes if they are near multiple stores or driveways. Therefore, if you ride the turn lane, you could be preventing other vehicles from being able to use their lane to turn. Turn lanes are also a common lane for emergency vehicles to occupy to bypass traffic. If you are stuck riding it without the ability nor inclination to turn, you could be preventing an emergency vehicle from getting through.

  • Traffic citations or prosecution. When you obstruct traffic, prevent ambulances or police from properly using the turn lane, or are caught riding the lane to avoid traffic, you can be ticketed—and even jailed, if your actions fatally delay emergency vehicles from treating a patient.

  • Collisions. When you improperly use the turn lane, you can confuse other motorists and cause them to either assume that you’re turning and accidentally collide into you, purposefully deny you access to the lane you want to merge into (increasing road rage and collision risks), or block their vision, which ultimately increases the risk for an accident.

The next time you’re stuck in traffic and see the turn lane open, don’t risks the consequences. Although it may seem like a good idea to ride it all the way up to the intersection because someone is bound to let you over, it isn’t worth the risks. Not only could you seriously hurt yourself and your family, but you could fatally injure someone else or keep an ambulance from saving the life of someone you may know.

It isn’t worth it. Safety will always trump getting home five minutes sooner. Keep that in mind the next time you feel the need to pass in a turn lane.

Have you recently been injured by someone who improperly used a turn lane? Don’t let his aggressive driving ruin the rest of your life. Get the justice you deserve while making sure he remembers never to carelessly put another’s life in danger. Call us now for a free consultation and review of your accident claim. We’ll make sure you get the compensation and relief you deserve.

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