By Caryn Schulenberg
When we get behind the wheel of a car, we can expect to find ourselves in the middle of a number of challenges. Maneuvering in traffic, with so many people in varying states of distraction, can put us in eminent danger at any given moment. When people are driving to work, home, or some appointment, their minds are often not on what the people around them are doing, or sometimes even exactly where they, themselves are headed. How often have you set out to go to the store, and found yourself headed toward your workplace? I think we have all done it.
Driving in traffic is enough of a challenge when everything is going as planned, but when someone does something unexpected, suddenly several other people are forced to compensate for the driver who didn’t follow the normal practices of driving. I think we all have our own pet peeves in this area. Mine are not using a turn signal, not using the center turn lane, and the one I want to discuss today…proper right turn protocol. Many people think that when you are making a right turn, you can do so from anyplace in the right-hand lane. While that makes some sense, it can also be confusing for the people behind you waiting to make their own turn.
While I can’t speak to the laws in other states, it recently came to our attention, following a surprise decision on a claim, that in Wyoming, the person making the right turn has an obligation, not only to signal the turn, but also to move as far as practicable to the right hand curb or the edge of the roadway, to make their intentions known to the drivers behind them.
This is according to Wyoming State Statute 31-5-214, which reads as follows:
(a) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows:
(i) Right turns: Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway;
(ii) Left turns: The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicle on the roadway being entered;
(iii) Two-way left turn lanes: Where a special lane for making left turns by drivers proceeding in opposite directions has been indicated by official traffic-control devices:
(A) A left turn shall not be made from any other lane;
(B) A vehicle shall not be driven in the lane except when preparing for making a left turn from or onto the roadway or when preparing for a U-turn when otherwise permitted by law.
(b) The highway department and local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic-control devices to be placed and thereby require and direct that a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by turning vehicles and when the devices are so placed no driver shall turn a vehicle other than as directed and required by the devices.
This information was new to me, but I knew that I wished the person in front of me would move over to the right, so I would know it that was his intention, or if he just forgot to turn off his turn signal. When we are driving, we not only need to pay attention to other drivers and what is going on around us, but also to the signals we are giving to other drivers, whether they be mechanical or implied. Moving to the extreme right or left of your lane when making turns gives the drivers around you the ability to maneuver around you, or just to know what is going on, so they can plan their turn in the intersection accordingly. So, the next time you are behind the wheel, think about declaring your intentions, so that you can aid the drivers around you to have a safe and stress-free commute.