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Laws Regarding Traffic Signs and Signals

When driving on the road, you will encounter many different traffic signs and signals. Be sure to obey know all laws regarding traffic signs and signals. Failure to do so can lead to a car crash and serious injuries.

Lane Direction and Lane Control Signals

A signal that may be unfamiliar to some are lane direction and lane control signals. These signals usually consist of a green arrow or a red or yellow X signal above a lane. Common in many large cities, these signals tell you when you can use a particular lane, typically express lanes. They are also used to warn of a traffic revision causing a lane ahead to be closed. A green arrow over a lane means it can be used. A yellow X or flashing red X over a lane means to prepare to exit that lane, as it will be closed ahead. A solid red C means the lane is closed and you cannot be in it. Never enter a lane with a solid red X, this often means oncoming traffic is using that lane.

RCW 46.61.340: Flashing Signals

  • Whenever an illuminated flashing red or yellow signal is used in a traffic sign or signal it shall require obedience by vehicular traffic as follows:
    • FLASHING RED (STOP SIGNAL). When a red lens is illuminated with rapid intermittent flashes, drivers of vehicles shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering a marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection, and the right to proceed shall be subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign.
    • FLASHING YELLOW (CAUTION SIGNAL). When a yellow lens is illuminated with rapid intermittent flashes, drivers of vehicles may proceed through the intersection or past such signal only with caution.
  • This section shall not apply at railroad grade crossings. Conduct of drivers of vehicles approaching railroad grade crossings shall be governed by the rules as set forth in RCW 61.340.

RCW 46.61.070: Lane-direction-control signals

When lane-direction-control signals are placed over the individual lanes of a street or highway, vehicular traffic may travel in any lane over which a green signal is shown, but shall not enter or travel in any lane over which a red signal is shown.

RCW 46.61.072: Special traffic control signals—Legend

Whenever special traffic control signals exhibit a downward green arrow, a yellow X, or a red X indication, such signal indication shall have the following meaning:

  • A steady downward green arrow means that a driver is permitted to drive in the lane over which the arrow signal is located.
  • A steady yellow X or flashing red X means that a driver should prepare to vacate, in a safe manner, the lane over which the signal is located because a lane control change is being made, and to avoid occupying that lane when a steady red X is displayed.
  • A flashing yellow X means that a driver is permitted to use a lane over which the signal is located for a left turn, using proper caution.
  • A steady red X means that a driver shall not drive in the lane over which the signal is located, and that this indication shall modify accordingly the meaning of all other traffic controls present. The driver shall obey all other traffic controls and follow normal safe driving practices.

RCW 46.61.075: Display of unauthorized signs, signals, or markings

  • No person shall place, maintain or display upon or in view of any highway any unauthorized sign, signal, marking or device which purports to be or is an imitation of or resembles an official traffic-control device or railroad sign or signal, or which attempts to direct the movement of traffic, or which hides from view or interferes with the effectiveness of an official traffic-control device or any railroad sign or signal.
  • No person shall place or maintain nor shall any public authority permit upon any highway any traffic sign or signal bearing thereon any commercial advertising.
  • This section shall not be deemed to prohibit the erection upon private property adjacent to highways of signs giving useful directional information and of a type that cannot be mistaken for official signs.
  • Every such prohibited sign, signal or marking is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and the authority having jurisdiction over the highway is hereby empowered to remove the same or cause it to be removed without notice.

RCW 46.61.080: Interference with official traffic-control devices or railroad signs or signals

No person shall, without lawful authority, attempt to or in fact alter, deface, injure, knock down or remove any official traffic-control device or any railroad sign or signal or any inscription, shield or insignia thereon, or any other part thereof.

RCW 46.61.085: Traffic control signals or devices upon city streets forming part of state highways—Approval by department of transportation

No traffic control signal or device may be erected or maintained upon any city street designated as forming a part of the route of a primary state highway or secondary state highway unless first approved by the state department of transportation.

Car Crash Lawyer Spokane

If you are injured by someone failing to abide by traffic signs or signals, you need a personal injury lawyer in Spokane on your side. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Parke Gordon Law Firm will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact the law office of personal injury attorney Mat Parke today for a free consultation. This is your opportunity to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your case for free. Call (509) 482-7274 to get started on receiving a fair settlement from your personal injury case.

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Our Spokane, Washington law firm services clients in and surrounding Spokane, including for injuries and accidents in Spokane Valley and injuries and accidents in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Visit or call our Spokane law firm today.

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