How Long Can You Drive Down The Center Turn Lane In Washington State?

We've all been there. You are in the middle turn lane trying to into a business and a car comes zipping towards you, frustrated that you are in the turn lane. You throw up your hands in bewilderment.


We asked you what are the #1 violations you see in the Tri-Cities daily and you picked not using left and right turn signals but the conversation continued with the question of how long a driver can stay in a turn lane.

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We were actually surprised by the law. You see it all the time, drivers getting into a turn lane long before their turn and that's when it can cost you a ticket if you're seen doing it wrong.


You'll see the answer in RCW 46.61.295 of the Washington State driving laws

Teenage Boy Taking A Driving Lesson
Catherine Yeulet

Here's what the law says about driving down the center turn law:

(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 answer is 300 hundred feet.  You can safely navigate the center turn lane for about the length of a football field before you get a ticket.

A football is about 100 yards which was a surprise to me, it seems like a pretty generous length for giving a driver plenty of time to turn in a turn lane.

I guess a good rule of thumb is just be patient when making those center turn lane turns and you'll be good to go and safe.


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