Cutting lanes is aggressive driving

Joanne Rowe of Snohomish writes: I travel west across the U.S. 2 trestle between 5:30 and 7 a.m. weekdays. Traffic is usually very congested, but it has improved with the addition of the southbound ramp onto I-5.

Still, there are many rude, inconsiderate drivers who wait until the last minute to merge into the left lane to exit U.S. 2 onto southbound I-5.

These drivers change lanes and travel in the right lane to get in front of all the other backed up vehicles then at the very last minute merge into the left lane cutting off the left lane drivers (who are already almost stopped) and slowing or stopping the right lane drivers either traveling north onto I-5 or exiting in Everett.

Most of them merge when they are right in the middle of the Snohomish River bridge; however, some merge from the right lane over to the left exit ramp when they are directly under I-5. This is very dangerous.

Is there a traffic violation when a driver intentionally disrupts the flow of traffic or travel across multiple lanes at once?

Trooper Keith Leary of the State Patrol responds: Yes, this is a violation. Those who are cutting drivers off, forcing them to stand on their brakes, or they’re cutting across a gore point, that’s considered aggressive driving and they can be cited for that.

An unsafe lane change is a collision-causing violation we see all the time.
If you’re in that much of a hurry you need to leave extra time. If another driver has to take evasive action, that’s considered aggressive driving.

172nd St. NE signs

Otha Starkey of Marysville writes: Many times, I have witnessed cars going westbound on 172nd Street NE tying up traffic by making a left turn at the east end of the bridge over I-5 to proceed to southbound I-5. This is the old entrance to the freeway; the new way to southbound I-5 is to the right at this location.
There are signs with arrows on the far right side of the roadway showing lane travel directions, but I think signs on the traffic signal at this location saying “no left turn” would be appropriate and help with safety.

People who miss the exit may make a U-turn at the intersection of 172nd Street NE and 27th Avenue NE and proceed back to the southbound I-5 on-ramp.

Bronlea Mishler, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: We reviewed the intersection of I-5 and Highway 531 (172nd Street NE) and agree that two new signs could better direct drivers onto the correct I-5 on-ramps. When we rebuilt the interchange in 2009, we gave westbound drivers on Highway 531 a new right-hand on-ramp to access southbound I-5. Eastbound drivers have a right-hand on-ramp to southbound I-5.

We will install a new guide sign on Highway 531 that directs drivers into the right lane as they approach the on-ramp. We will also install a no-left-turn sign in the median of Highway 531 near the I-5 interchange to direct westbound drivers not to turn across traffic to access southbound I-5. The signs should be installed by March.

Speed zone warning

Joe Geck of Everett writes: Coming off Highway 526 onto Seaway Boulevard near the Boeing plant, there is only a single speed limit sign on the right shoulder.

With a lot of truck traffic there, drivers may not see the single 40 mph speed limit sign. Coming off a four-lane highway onto a four-lane road with no immediate lane merge, there are no obvious clues to the drivers of the need for reduced speed.

I propose that traffic engineers add signs for “Reduced Speed Ahead — 40 mph” and a warning sign about merging traffic as this is one of the main exits to Boeing.

Mishler of the transportation department responds: We agree that a “speed zone ahead” warning sign is a good idea at this location.
Our crews installed the sign Jan. 21. The ramp also already has a sign warning drivers that the Highway 526 off-ramp joins Seaway Boulevard as two added lanes, so they should expect traffic ahead.
The sign is located near where the westbound and eastbound off-ramps come together, and shows two arrows coming together along a dashed line.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts. E-mail us at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

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