TACOMA, Wash. — Trooper Johnna Batiste with the Washington State Patrol is back! We asked you to share all of your traffic questions and frustrations in our Five Hive, and peppered Trooper Batiste with them to get you some answers!
Here is what we learned:
On four-way stops:
Kanna brought up a topic we hear so many of you are frustrated on: “Can you please cover a four-way stop?” Kanna said it’s frustrating to wait “forever” behind someone who is afraid to go.
Trooper Batiste: “Washingtonians are too polite when it comes to four-way stops! We are!” She said if you arrive at a four-way stop at the same time as someone else, it’s the person to the right who goes first. Thus, the traffic flow of a four-way stop should be moving counter-clockwise. No more of the “You go! No, I’ll go. Fine, you first!” and so on.
On using the shoulder to turn right when everyone is stopped waiting to turn left:
Aleya asked if it was ok to use the shoulder to turn right while the light is still red when everyone in the main lane is waiting to turn left.
Trooper Batiste: “No driving on the shoulder!” Apparently, driving down the shoulder to make your right turn breaks TWO laws: You are required to maintain your lane, AND you are not allowed to drive on the shoulder.
On turning left:
Cindy asks: “When entering a turn lane to make a left, when should you enter the turn lane?”
Trooper Batiste: “You cannot drive in a center turn lane for more than three hundred feet.” This means when traffic is backed up quite a bit at a light, and the center turn lane is free, you aren’t supposed to get in it and use it drive all the way up past traffic to make your left unless it’s within 300 feet. (Darnit!)
And yes, they can pull you over for that!
On tailgating (and not the beer and brats kind):
Tonya Marie asked: “What do you do when someone is tailgating you?”
Trooper Batiste: “If you have the opportunity to move over, simply move over and let that person go past you.” She acknowledges that tailgating is rude, but your priority is to get to your destination safely, and antagonizing someone by slamming on your brakes or flipping them the bird is unsafe and could escalate the situation.
Troopers can (and do) pull people over for tailgating. In fact, Trooper Batiste said some people have even tailgated her- while she’s driving her marked patrol car!
On school zones:
Maryann wanted to know: “Driving through a school zone on a holiday or a weekend when the kids are not in school… do you still have to go twenty?”
Trooper Batiste: “If the light is flashing, you should obey the sign.” She added that even if it’s not flashing, if kids are present, it doesn’t matter that it’s outside of school hours. There could be an event or something being put on by the school district drivers are unaware of.
We also had a few questions on buses. When it comes to school buses stopping on multiple lane roads, for example a road with two lanes in each direction plus a center lane:
Trooper Batiste said only the traffic traveling in the same direction as the bus is required to stop, not the oncoming traffic. WSP has an entire “Good to Know” video addressing this topic HERE.
On driving too slowly:
Polly Ann asked us: “Why aren’t they citing the people driving 15 and under on our roads and freeways?”
Trooper Batiste: “We do! Every single day.” Trooper Batiste went on to say that if someone is impeding traffic - let’s say they have four or more vehicles stacked up behind them - that is a legal, stoppable, ticketable offense.
T.J. asked about people who drive in the far left lane “and barely drive the speed limit”.
Trooper Batiste: “No left lane camping!” She said they absolutely issue citations for people who “camp out” in the left lane, rather than using it as a passing lane the way it is designated. Washington State Patrol has even done several campaigns on this issue HERE.