If you’re driving in Washington state there are many laws you should be aware of. The law book is full of them, and they cover everything from the use of handheld devices to child safety seats and everything in between. However, among the laws that Washington state motorists should know by now, there are certain laws that traffic authorities say people break all the time. While you can be ticketed for breaking any of the Washington traffic laws, here are five that really get under an officer’s skin. Make sure to avoid breaking these tried and true traffic laws in the great state of Washington.
Paris is for lovers, vacations are for relaxing, and the left lane – at least in Washington – is for passing. It might be tempting to jump into the left lane and cruise down the highway, but if you’re caught, it will cost you a ticket. After all, if everyone starts using the left lane to drive in, it defeats the point of having a passing lane. Case in point, whenever you pass someone, go ahead and use the left lane, but get out of it as soon as possible. It frustrates drivers and highway patrol officers alike and isn’t something you want to get a ticket for.
If you’re driving down the highway, don’t think that a single flash of your blinker is enough to indicate that you’re changing lanes or pulling over. At regular highway speeds, signaling for 100 feet means you should have that blinker going for about two full seconds. If you’re traveling a little slower, about a second and a half. A single blink is not enough of a notice to other drivers that you’re intending to pull over. What’s more, you’ll definitely get a ticket if a cop sees you pull the single blink move. If there’s anything worth getting a ticket for, not signaling for long enough is certainly not one of them.
If you live in a state other than Washington, you might not be familiar with the term lane sweeping. That’s because it’s not illegal in every state. Therefore, if you plan on traveling to Washington, or you just moved to town, be sure you familiarize yourself with this point. Lane sweeping is when you turn onto a road and immediately go to the far left lane before inching your way back to the right or middle lane. In other words, if you’re making a right turn onto a street and head for the left lane, you’re lane sweeping. Conversely, if you’re making a left turn and you head for the far right lane, that’s also lane sweeping. Washington state law dictates that you turn into the closest possible lane when turning onto a street. Lane sweeping will certainly get you a ticket, but it has led to a fair amount of accidents, as well, hence the law. Turn into the lane closest to you in order to stay safe and avoid a ticket.
Traveling in roundabouts, often called traffic circles in other areas of the country, is never fun. Most people don’t look forward to traveling through them, and they’re almost always confusing. What’s even more confusing is that every state has different laws. In Washington, though, one simple rule will help you avoid breaking most of the roundabout-related laws: yield to the traffic already in the roundabout. That means that in spite of signs, rights of way, or any other circumstances, the traffic that’s already in the roundabout has the right of way, and you are required to yield to it.
In Washington, holding any electronic device in one hand while operating a vehicle is a primary offense. A primary offense means you can be pulled over for that offense alone. You may talk on the phone if you’re using a hands-free device, but texting is strictly off-limits. There are some exceptions to the law that states you cannot hold an electronic device, however. If you’re reporting illegal activity, getting medical help, or otherwise operating the phone because of an emergency situation, you’re usually off the hook. However, in other situations you can’t touch your phone or any other electronic device, even if you’re stopped in traffic or at a stop light. You can, however, pull the car over to a safe location to use your phone, even if the motor is running. The side of the freeway is not considered a safe location. However, if you’re in a designated turn-out or in a parking spot, that’s okay.
There are plenty of other traffic laws you’ll need to follow when driving in Washington state. However, these are the laws that Highway Patrol officers see people violate most often. Make sure to drive safely and follow the rules of the road so you don’t get a ticket or end up in an accident. If you do find yourself at the wrong end of a ticket or involved in an accident, though, it’s important to contact a qualified Washington state traffic attorney. Only an experienced traffic lawyer will be able to assess your individual case and provide you with the best possible outcome.