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Turning lanes are not for merging

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March 30, 2018

In the Hill Country, it is not uncommon to see the misuse of the center turning lane. Regularly, drivers see other motorists pull onto the roadway and into the turning lane. Then, the driver either comes to a complete stop or slowly eases their way on it to wait for an opening in the driving lane.

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We decided to get to the bottom of the law to bring our readers knowledge and awareness of this roadway action.

A local traffic cop has clarified to us that this action is, indeed, illegal and it is an improper use of the turn lane. The left turn lane is used for vehicle’s slowing to stop and make left turns. It is not a lane for merging or traveling.

This roadway law is a state law defined in the Transportation Code and is also addressed in the Texas Driver’s Handbook. As stated from the Texas Driver’s Handbook, “The only time a vehicle should enter the center lane is at a point where the vehicle will have time to slow down or stop in order to make a safe left turn maneuver. Special Note: The center lane should never be used for passing or as a through-traffic lane.” KPD Traffic Unit enforces this offense heavily and has talked to the public about it on many occasions.

A violation within the city limits of Kerrville for the “Improper Use of Left Turn Lane” – Texas Transportation code 545.060, carries a $200 fine and court costs through the Kerrville Municipal Court.

Misuse of the turning lane is unsafe for all vehicles on the road and should only be used according to the state laws set in place to keep drivers as safe as possible when on the road. Be patient when trying to enter the roadway. Be aware when driving in the left lane closest to the center turning lane or if you are preparing to turn using the turning lane.