If you`re an Oregonian visiting Washington, you might think we have a number of mockers turning around wherever we want. And if you`re a Washingtoner visiting Oregon, you might be surprised by a ticket for a completely legal U-turn. Many Seattle drivers had already learned that U-turns are illegal, except at specially marked intersections. This was the case when many people had to take driver training in high school, but the laws have changed since then. Washington State changed its U-turn regulations in 1997, and the city of Seattle followed the following year. Today, you can legally turn around at almost any intersection, unless there is a « No U-turn » sign attached. Washington State RCW 46.61.295 describes the situations in which U-turns are acceptable and under what circumstances they are illegal. It states: « The driver of a vehicle shall not rotate the vehicle in such a way that it is travelling in the opposite direction, unless such movement can be carried out safely and without affecting the other traffic. » U-turns are illegal in many states and in certain types of driving and/or terrain conditions for good reason. If a driver makes an unexpected 180-degree or U-turn turn, it can lead to a dangerous situation for other vehicles and pedestrians. Drivers who turn around at busy intersections, on highways or on roads endanger the public. The previous column answered a question from R.B. about U-turns on Bernard Street in downtown Spokane. According to the provisions of Washington State law, this sentence is allowed.
Although Spokane`s municipal code often mimics state law word for word, there are exceptions. As for U-turns, two emails from readers reminded me of this. In addition to statewide laws, each city or municipal government can establish its own laws regarding U-turns. Some restrict them further by regulations or individually mark dangerous intersections without U-signs. The other email from R.R., a retired judge, went into more detail. He agreed that the law is little known to the travelling public, as illustrated by several violations committed in his court. His detailed note was a good indication that sometimes additional wording in city ordinances « prevails » or prevails over state laws. Although the laws of Washington and Seattle clearly describe the situations in which a safe U-turn is possible, many drivers continue to drive dangerous turns without considering the dangers of their decision. Laws are in place to protect motorists from accidents caused when a driver tries to turn around in a blind spot, or to do so without first making sure they don`t endanger others around them. U-turns in inappropriate areas – or carelessly negotiating a U-turn in a legal location – can lead to a variety of accidents. Head-on collisions are not uncommon on two-lane roads, while T-accidents often occur on wide roads or those with medians.
Answer: Once, I saw a bumper sticker that said, « God allows U-turns. Either it`s a metaphor, or God hasn`t penetrated lawmakers into certain cities and states. Here in Washington, that bumper sticker and our state law are closely aligned, but that`s not the case in our neighboring state to the south (or in some cities in our state). In Seattle, the regulations that describe flip-flop laws are very similar to those in the state. Seattle Regulation 11.55.120 states that drivers cannot turn back: In Washington State, U-turns are allowed in clearly marked areas and/or in areas where the negotiation of a U-turn can be safely performed. According to RCW 46.61.295, « the driver of a vehicle shall not turn the vehicle in the opposite direction unless such movement can be carried out safely and without affecting other traffic ». The Law of the City of Spokane, to which he drew my attention, prohibits U-turns in an « overloaded district » in Section 3 of the text, which has been added to Sections 1 and 2 of the State Act. He also referred to a second regulation defining « congested territory ». Washington`s law seems lax in comparison. Here, U-turns are usually allowed as long as you can do them safely and without disrupting traffic. The two limitations of state law are that you can`t turn around in a curve or approaching a hill if your vehicle can`t be seen by a driver approaching within 500 feet. Historical note: Before 1975, the law did not even contain the part that consisted of turning around safely and without interfering with other trafficking.
He forbade them only in curves and hills. While these accidents can lead to serious injuries or even deaths, inappropriate U-turns are also a common cause of accidents between pedestrians, cars and cyclists and cars. Due to the nature of this type of accident, they are more likely to be fatal than a collision involving two cars. Given the few restrictions in the law, you can probably imagine (or have been) in places where you would never consider turning back, even if the situation is not explicitly described in the law. To address U-turn safety concerns, cities can draft local laws prohibiting U-turns on certain streets, neighborhoods, or even throughout the city. For example, Yakima prohibits U-turns in its business district (unless there is a designated U-turn lane) and half-turns mid-block outside a business district. Tacoma generally prohibits U-turns throughout the city, unless they are located at intersections without traffic control signs, signs, markings (which you will only find in areas with very low traffic), in places where « the U-turn occurs through an opening provided for this purpose » or at an intersection with a sign allowing a U-turn.