Is using a turn lane as a passing lane illegal? If I was in an accident as a result of someone trying to pass me in a turn lane, whose fault is it?

It should be common sense that turn lanes are to be used only when turning or merging into traffic. Even then, merging use is limited to 200 feet. However, some people believe that the “extra” lane can and should be taken advantage of as a passing lane. Instead of getting into the lane with the intent to turn, these people use the lane to bypass traffic and get closer to an intersection, and then push their way back into the straight lane traffic ahead of those who didn’t utilize the “extra lane.” Not only is this belief wrong and inconsiderate, it’s also highly illegal and extremely dangerous.

So, the next time you feel the need to temporarily use a turn lane to pass traffic, remember that your decision can have grave results.

Turn Lane Abuse Consequences

The Federal Highway Administration isn’t blind to these self-entitled lane abusers or the harm they potentially cause. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report on lane change collisions, passing in a turn lane is one of the seven most frequent lane-change collision scenarios. These maneuvers account for nearly 9 percent of all lane change accidents, injuring roughly 40,000 people a year. As a result, the NHTSA takes lane abuse extremely seriously.

Therefore, those who abuse shoulder lanes put themselves at risk for a variety of consequences—both legal and physical. Their actions cause the following risks and outcomes:

  • Traffic obstruction. Many turn lanes (especially in urban areas) can double as both left and right turn lanes if they are near multiple stores or driveways. Therefore, if you ride the turn lane, you could be preventing other vehicles from being able to use their lane to turn, or you could wind up smashing head-on into another vehicle/
  • Emergency vehicle delays. Turn lanes are also a common lane that emergency vehicles use to bypass traffic. If you are riding the turn lane without the ability or inclination to turn, you could be preventing an emergency vehicle from getting through.
  • Collision injuries. When you improperly use the turn lane, you can confuse other motorists and cause them to assume that you’re turning. They may accidentally collide into you, purposefully deny you access to the lane you want to merge into (increasing road rage and collision risks), or decrease their visibility which in turn increases the risk for an accident.
  • Citations and criminal prosecution. When you obstruct traffic, prevent ambulances or police from properly using the turn lane, or are caught riding the lane to avoid traffic, you can be ticketed. If your actions fatally delay emergency vehicles from treating a patient, you can even be jailed.

Remember: safety should always trump getting home five minutes sooner. Keep that in mind the next time you feel the need to pass in a turn lane.

Traffic Abuse Injuries: Where to Turn When You Need Help

No matter how hard you try to protect your family and follow the rules of the road, it only takes one person’s selfish or stupid mistake to put your family in jeopardy. If you’ve recently been injured by someone who improperly used a turn lane, you could be entitled to compensation.

We know how frustrating and complicated car accident claims can be, especially when so many things can make or break your case, but we can help you get the justice you need. Don’t let a reckless driver ruin the rest of your life. Get the justice you deserve while making sure he remembers to never carelessly put another’s life in danger.

Call us now for a free consultation, and let our experience and knowledge work for you. We’ll make sure you get the best compensation and relief available for you and your family.