Thursday, December 29, 2011

Which Lane Am I Supposed to Turn Into?

If it has been a long time since you looked at the drivers license manual, you might have forgotten one test question relating to which lane you are required to enter when making a left turn. There are a lot of drivers in Sioux Falls who have forgotten the rule or just choose to ignore the rule. Actually state law specifically addresses left turns:

32-26-18. Left-turning vehicle--Manner of making turn--Violation as misdemeanor. 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. If 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. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

As a driver, you are supposed to turn into the lane closest to the one you came from. Very few do it. People turn into the lane they need to be in and the majority of the time it is the farthest lane, not the closest lane. One of the reasons for turning directly into the lane you eventually want to be in is because other drivers won't let you in when you want to change lanes. Everyone is in a hurry. Heaven forbid someone gets a head of you. Traffic is heavy and you need to cross over two or more lanes to get to the turn lane you really want to be in and no one is going to accommodate you.
Well, last week the police were ticketing people who were breaking the rule. I know someone personally who got a ticket for $120 for making a left turn out of the Empire Mall at the stoplight by Macy's and entering the farthest the lane, not the lane closest to the lane they came from. This person needed to make a right turn at the next intersection and traffic was heavy. My friend practically had a heart attack.  She said she knew the rule but everyone does it. She said, who heard of anyone getting a ticket for turning into the farthest lane.

In Lewis Drug a couple days later, two workers in the pharmacy department were overheard talking about the very same thing. Evidently, one of them got a $120 for the same thing out at the Mall and the other person said a friend got stopped for it as well. 

I feel bad for my friend but I actually kind of like the fact that the police are targeting this rule. It is broken all the time and it is annoying. I say go for it. The more people who get the ticket, the more people will talk about it, and hopefully, more people will start turning into the lane closest to them and start being courteous to other drivers who have their turn signal on to change lanes.

Then I want the police to get all those speeders on 57th Street, and the ones who run red lights thinking they are sneaking through a yellow caution light.  Maybe this could be a public service program focusing on basic traffic laws for Channel 16 by the SFPD. For many drivers, it has probably been a long time anyone has looked at the drivers manual. There are plenty of drivers out there who could use a refresher course in traffic rules. Me included.

Be courteous and be safe out there and follow the rules of the road.


  1. I agree: the rule is there for good reason. In Sioux Falls and here in Madison, I've seen drivers take both lanes for their right-hand turns: they swing out, take a chunk of the left lane, then haul themselves back into the right lane. Keep your lane, folks! And if you have to make that fast left after that right, you'll just have to do it the way I do, by the book: turn into the near lane, then signal and change lanes in sharp succession to the turning lane. It can be done... but you usually need to put down your phone and concentrate!

  2. Totally agree with you....
    This has been an annoyance I have put up with for years... and it happens at virtually every major intersection in town.
    I don't believe, however, that it has much to do with picking the lane they want to be in.
    It's nothing more than lazyiness. People can't seem to turn the steering wheel far enough to make a sharp 90 degree turn... so they "round off the corner" and cheat by driving into the far lane.

  3. I agree that it is the law and everyone should obey it, but bah humbug on the SFPD for targeting people at the Empire Mall during the Christmas rush. They must have needed to meet their quota. I'd rather they start targeting all of the people who run red lights in this town or deal with the excessively fast drivers on 57th St. I'm amazed that no one has been seriously injured or killed on East 57th from Cliff to Sycamore. That area is a flippin' raceway.

  4. I think it is more that the person who follows behind me wants to get ahead of me. Just like entering the Interstate, you come down the ramp and the car behind you HAS to go around you before you even have a chance to get up to speed. Sioux Falls drivers are very rude!