This week I would like to handle a rules of the road issue we received from folks out there in the field concerning trucks turning across double yellow lines. While this particular issue comes to us from the Monroe area, there are variations of this particular road design all across the state—I have included a couple other photos below.
So as you see here, the centerline has a yellow line on each side, with 18 inches of pavement between that has also been grooved with rumble strips and further painted with a yellow cross hatch. The black car is headed west, and the white car is approaching in the eastbound lane. On the south side (or left) of the image, you can see the parking lot of a business with an approach apron. If you were to look at an overhead image of this location, you would see marks on that apron showing trucks have been turning both left and right.
Vehicle traffic here is governed by RCW 46.61.150:
“Whenever any highway has been divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or clearly indicated dividing section or by a median island not less than eighteen inches wide formed either by solid yellow pavement markings or by a yellow crosshatching between two solid yellow lines so installed as to control vehicular traffic, every vehicle shall be driven only upon the right-hand roadway unless directed or permitted to use another roadway by official traffic-control devices or police officers. No vehicle shall be driven over, across or within any such dividing space, barrier or section, or median island, except through an opening in such physical barrier or dividing section or space or median island, or at a crossover or intersection established by public authority.”
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the intent here is to imagine a virtual concrete jersey barrier running down the centerline like you might see on the freeway. In this section it is a violation to pass cars going the same direction, to make a left turn across the lines, and to make a left turn from that approach to head west. This design is utilized in areas where there is often heavier traffic, reasonable speeds, and limited visibility. For trucks and trailers in particular, trying to turn across traffic approaching quickly can lead to obstructing the road and collisions.
So when you see the wide yellow centerline, painted solid or not, just imagine that concrete barrier keeping you from turning left and you will truly be traveling in “the right lane.”
Here’s an example of both the wide double yellow in the foreground and the solid yellow on the next block in Davenport.
And one more, slightly wider, from SR 503 in Brush Prairie.
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