Reader questions fog line, fast lane rules

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I appreciate your column, Ramona. Two questions: My first question is about northbound Mission/Highway 1 at Western. Can an automobile legally cross the solid line on the right to make a right turn? For example, a car is stopped at the signal and another car slips to the right of it and makes a right turn. Is this a bike lane? If, yes, then why no broken line near the corner? Secondly, my significant other and I disagree about the two lanes of Highway 17. One argument is that the left lane is a passing lane and the motorist should always return to the right lane after passing. The other is that the left lane is for faster traffic and the motorist can stay left as long as the motorist is going faster than the traffic in the right lane -- and not impeding traffic behind. An argument against the former is that changing lanes on Highway 17 is a bit dodgy. Thanks for your consideration. Gregg Ferry, Santa Cruz A: Street Smarts consulted with Officer Brad Sadek of the California Highway Patrol to answer both your questions. Citing California Vehicle Code sections, 21209, 21717 and 22100, he offered that the white line along the right side of the road, it is a fog line and the area to the right of it is the bike lane. "For the safety of everyone, the motorist is required to move into the bike lane to prepare for a right hand turn," Sadek said. "However, you cannot enter the bike lane unless you are 200 feet or less from your intended turn. In the example given, the line is clearly a solid white line, as opposed to a broke white line. Whether it is broken or not, the driver is required to move into the bike lane for the turn. This maneuver reduces the chance of a collision between a cyclist and motor vehicle." In regard to your question about the purpose of the left lane on Highway 17, vehicle code section 21654(a) tells drivers that "despite speed limits, any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway,"Sadek explained. "There are a few California roadways that have an actual 'Passing Lane' but these are usually short, one or two mile areas where a two lane road is widened to allow one lane of traffic to pass. For the majority of California roadways, Section 21654 (a) comes into play." In his scenario, Sadek said that if a motorist is in the "fast lane" and is traveling at a higher rate of speed that the flow of traffic, there is no requirement for them to get into the right, or slow, lane. To the converse, anyone driving slower than the flow of traffic are required to move to the right hand lane; however, they can still jump into the fast lane to pass slower traffic and must then move back to the right if they continue to go slower than the speed of traffic in the fast lane. "Many roadways actually have regulatory signs posted stating 'Slower traffic keep right,'" Sadek continued. "This is the law on every multi-lane roadway, regardless of the presence of the sign." Research the above and other vehicle sections online at www.chp.ca.gov or www.dmv.ca.gov. Distracted Driver Awareness Month April is Distracted Drive Awareness Month and that means the CHP and other law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for drivers who are texting, dialing, plucking eyebrows, tinkering with the GPS, eating, chatting it up with passengers and otherwise not paying attention to the road while their vehicle is in motion. Driving while distracted has taken the lives of 3,331 people nationwide and injured 387,000 others, according to The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Locally, during last April's Distracted Driver Awareness Campaign, Santa Cruz CHP Officers issued 1,361 citations to distracted drivers. In all of 2013, 4,533 traffic tickets were written to drivers who were not paying attention to the road. Your vehicle is a deadly weapon, no different than a bullet released from a gun or an out of control locomotive. Treat it as such. Pay attention.  
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