Proper driving etiquette when the road adds a travel lane

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I’m hoping you can clear up some confusion we have about the intersection at Clares Street and 40th Avenue in Capitola. While driving east, there are two lanes on Clares, but when you go through the intersection at 40th, between 40th and 41st avenues, there are three lanes. Our question is, if you are in the right lane as you enter the intersection, can you legally go into either the right lane or the center lane? And, if you are in the left lane as you enter the intersection, can you legally go into the left lane or the center lane, assuming that it is safe in both of these situations? Also, if you answered yes to these two questions, then is there some sort of right of way law in effect if there are two eastbound cars on Clares that approach the stop sign at exactly the same time? We are always careful in that area, but would like to know what’s legal and what’s not. Thanks for your help on this, The Aldridges, Aromas A: "Good one,” said Sgt. Matt Eller of the Capitola Police Department. “If you are in the No. 2 lane (far right lane) eastbound, you may proceed to the center or right lane eastbound. If you are in the No. 1 lane (far left lane) eastbound, you may proceed to the center or left lane. If two drivers arrive at the stop sign at the same time, there is no protocol of who gets the right of way. The simple answer would be 'when in doubt' yield the right of way to the other vehicle, usually the guy who is in the greatest hurry." Q: I’m trying to contact Commissioner Kim Baskett about this question to see if the court agree. Dan Aldridge, Aromas A: OK. While you do that, I took a poll from the other traffic enforcement agencies in the county. All responded similarly. Read on: Lt. Michael Ridgway of Watsonville Police cited California Vehicle Code section 21658 in providing his answer. The section indicates that vehicles “shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.” “Generally, if the number of lanes increase, or decrease, on a roadway a driver should remain in the lane they occupy until a lane change can be made safely,” said Ridgeway. “The right of way, or immediate use, belongs to the vehicle that occupies that lane. Any driver changing lanes bears the burden to make sure their actions are safe. It is conceivable two vehicles collide while trying to change lanes, at the same time, into an empty lane. Assuming all things equal both would share fault.” From Scotts Valley Police's Lt. John Hohmann, vehicle code section 22107 was cited. It reads, “No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.” And the CHP's officer Sarah Jackson said, “CPD is right. While drivers in either lane of eastbound Clares crossing 40th technically have right-of-way to any of the three eastbound lanes after the intersection, changing from the far left to the right lanes is not the best defensive driving tactic. “However, while it is legal to enter any of the three lanes from any position, the impetus is on the driver making the lane change to ensure that it is safe to do so," said Jackson. "If a collision results, the fault will likely lie with the driver who initiated the lane change.”
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One Response to Proper driving etiquette when the road adds a travel lane

  1. Bob Zimway says:

    we are still waiting after three-plus years as to when electronic signs will be updated with pertinent information…. http://www.santacruzlive.com/streetsmarts/2009/12/02/digital-message-signs-on-hwy-17-should-provide-travel-times-reader-says/

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