You Don't Know What the Center Lane is For

Many secondary highways and local streets have a center lane.  These lanes are located between the travel lanes on said roads, e.g., in the middle of the street.  These lanes are identified by either solid double yellow lines on both sides or a solid yellow on the outside edge and a broken yellow line on the inside edge.  These allow drivers to exit the travel or passing lane to make a safer left turn by providing an isle-of-safety until oncoming traffic clears.  This also allows the driver who wants to make a left turn to not impede traffic.

Drivers who use the center lane should enter the lane BEFORE slowing down; but most do not.  Most drivers slow to a crawl, then move into the center lane.  This causes them to impede traffic, and a dangerous condition as the speeding cars behind them, many tailgating, may cause a rear-end accident.  Proper use of turn-signals to advise other drivers of your intention is warranted.

When entering a street, and wishing to make a right turn, poses no problem as the center lane doesn't come into play; but when you wish to make a left turn then the center lane comes into play.  When the traffic from the left is clear you must go directly into the center lane.  That is what it's there for.  Continue in the center lane until traffic from the right is clear, then move into the travel lane.  If there are two lanes, passing and travel, then move into the travel from the passing lane safely.

Many drivers wait until the road is clear in both directions, then cross all lanes into the travel lane.  This is not a safe maneuver as another car may be trying to enter the roadway from the opposite direction.  This usually takes much longer before you leave the side street or driveway; holding up the traffic behind you.  Also, before entering the center lane look to your right to verify that another car is not using the center lane, blocking your access to it.  That car is usually there as the driver wants to make a left turn into the street that you're trying to egress.

Always be extremely observant while in the center lane as it may be used by cars traveling in opposite directions . . . avoid a head-on collision.


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