Ask a Trooper

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002

Question: Occasionally if I am preparing to turn right onto a side road and have cars behind me, I will slide over to the shoulder before turning (providing it's empty of course) allowing the vehicles behind me to continue without having to come to a complete stop.

Recently I did this because there were several cars behind me, and they began to go around. A vehicle pulled out for a left turn from the side road I was turning on, and the cars passing me slid on the ice and there was almost a collision. Could I have been at fault for pulling to the shoulder possibly confusing the driver turning left? Is this an illegal maneuver?

Answer: This is an interesting and common scenario. Several traffic codes could be addressed about lane usage, passing restrictions and turning requirements, but all that legal jargon would fill a page of this paper.

The short answer is yes, you could be found at fault, as could the passing motorists for unsafe pass and the driver entering the highway from the side road for failing to yield. It would depend on factors such as how long you traveled on the shoulder, turn signal usage, visibility and other things the officer would take into consideration.

The maneuver you describe is generally safe if it is for a short duration, and there is sufficient room to clear the lane. The problem comes in when other vehicles are forced to go wide around you into the opposing lane because your vehicle really doesn't clear the traffic lane. Be careful with this one.

If you have questions you would like to ask a trooper, send them to Alaska State Troopers, P.O. Box 817, Seward, AK 99664, or e-mail them to brandon_Anderson The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt. It's the law.

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