Fleet Safety Tip of the Week: Safe Use of the Center Two-Way Left Turn Lane
During rush-hour traffic on city streets, the center two-way left turn lane can become a pretty chaotic place. Such lanes are designated by distinctive roadway markings consisting of parallel double yellow lines. The interior line is dashed and the exterior line is solid on each side of the lane. These lanes are located near the center of the roadway, set aside for motorists making left turns in both directions from or into the highway.
Many drivers turning onto a major boulevard from a side street use these lanes as a stopping point on a left turn, waiting for the opportunity to merge. And some turning left from side streets end up using the two-way center left turn lane as a merging lane and never fully stop. But remember, if two drivers at opposite sides of the same boulevard decide to make the same left-turn maneuver at the same time, the potential for a head-on collision in the two-way left turn lane is present.
Impatient motorists sometimes use these lanes to drive straight ahead and bypass through traffic in order to merge later or to more quickly access a left turn lane at a busy intersection ahead. These uses can pose hazards.
When traffic is clogged and drivers get frustrated, center two-way left turn lanes can take on the dangerous role of anything-goes lanes, increasing the likelihood of fender-benders and head-on collisions. As a result, it’s important to be extremely cautious when using such a lane in heavy traffic.
Fleet drivers need to keep in mind that these lanes are intended as auxiliary lanes, not through lanes. California law, for example, prohibits motorists from driving in such a lane for more than 200 feet while preparing for and making a turn or while preparing to merge into the adjacent lane of travel. Similarly, Anchorage, Alaska, has a municipal ordinance prohibiting motorists from driving more than 150 feet once the vehicle enters a center two-way left turn lane.
You may want to pass this tip along to your fleet drivers as a friendly reminder.