It’s best to signal while exiting roundabout

  • By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
  • Sunday, October 7, 2012 8:08pm
  • Local News

Mike Shephard of Snohomish writes: There is a controversy over whether you have to signal in a roundabout. I’ve heard both sides of the disagreement. Some police say yes, you have to signal, and have even given tickets for not doing so.

State law, I believe, doesn’t say one way or the other.

Trooper Keith Leary of the State Patrol responds: The simple answer is yes, you should signal in a roundabout, but when you are leaving it, not entering it. There is only one way into a roundabout — to the right — for each direction of travel, but several ways out.

A section of state law, RCW 46.61.305, addresses turn signals. Part of the law says, “a signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last (100) feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.”

This might not always apply since the roundabouts or traffic islands are sometimes entered and then exited before 100 feet has been traveled. Each roundabout is different, some have two lanes and some have only one.

The best plan of action is to slow down and watch other vehicles carefully. Many complaints we get, confirmed by what we’ve seen, are cars “zigzagging” in and out of the lane(s) while in the roundabout prior to exiting.

You have to take your time and have patience. If you miss your turn out of the roundabout the first time, you can go around and try a second time.

It is up to the discretion of the officer to write an infraction, which could amount to $124.

The state Department of Transportation provides tips on how to drive a roundabout at www.wsdot.wa.gov/safety/roundabouts/.

Chris Cooper of Everett writes: I encounter a dangerous obstacle on my daily commute on southbound I-5 in south Everett around 4 or 5 p.m. and later. At the Highway 526 merge, there is no metered traffic signal for commuters headed eastbound and merging from Highway 526 (and Boeing) onto southbound I-5.

It is sorely needed. There are a lot of commuters, and those merging from Highway 526 can see those of us in the middle or left lane flying along at 50-60 mph, so they want to race to get up to our speed. Drivers in the two right lanes are quickly jutting into the faster left lanes, seemingly with little consideration for safety.

It is so dangerous, causing every car already traveling southbound I-5 to slam on their brakes to make room for the huge volume of jutters. Making the situation worse are buses trying to get to either the carpool lanes or the south Everett Freeway Station Park and Ride lot in a short amount of space. Is there any plan to improve this situation?

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: The short answer to Chris’ question is that we just don’t have enough space on the ramp to effectively meter traffic. The ramp from Highway 526 to southbound I-5 is two lanes – one general purpose lane and one carpool lane. Whenever we meter traffic, we have to make sure there’s enough “storage” space on the ramp for all the cars using the ramp that would then need to wait for the ramp meter signal to change.

While some traffic would be eligible to use the carpool bypass, the majority would use the one lane available for cars to wait in, and traffic would quickly back up onto Highway 526. To add a ramp meter, we’d need to rebuild the entire ramp — and we don’t currently have the funding to do that.

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

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