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Ask a Trooper: Don't use turn lanes to merge

Question: As a bus driver, I have witnessed several drivers using the center turn lanes on two- and four-lane roads as merge lanes. While entering the roadway the driver will get across the closest lane of traffic and then travel down the center ...

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I have witnessed several drivers using the center turn lanes on two- and four-lane roads as merge lanes. The center lane is a turn lane only, not a driving or acceleration lane. BrainerdDispatch.com Illustration

Question: As a bus driver, I have witnessed several drivers using the center turn lanes on two- and four-lane roads as merge lanes. While entering the roadway the driver will get across the closest lane of traffic and then travel down the center turn lane until merging into traffic in the far lane. Sometimes the merge goes beyond the next intersection creating a head on situation for drivers that want to turn. These center lanes are not meant to be used as merge lanes are they?

Answer: The center lane is a turn lane only, not a driving or acceleration lane-it cannot be used to drive out into from a side road, street or driveway to merge or fit into the traffic flow. Again, it can only be used as a turn lane.

When making a turn, physically turn your head and look before turning or changing lanes so you are able to see other vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians.

On a related note, don't get into that center turn lane too soon, as you might meet other vehicles head on who are trying to turn into a place closer than your turn off. Don't forget to signal all your turns in advance.

Failure to use the center turn lane correctly could be very dangerous and could result in a crash. The driver could be cited for unsafe lane use and other charges related to the incident.

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Please use good judgement at all times while driving.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811; on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE; or by email at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us .

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