Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Local law enforcement officer want all licensed vehicle operators that ever drive in a safety lane or median for the purpose of passing or getting to a turn lane faster to know that’s not legal. It may cause you to be ticketed or even worse, have an accident that would be your fault. There is a distinct difference between a turn lane and a safety lane or median. Knowing the difference could save you a great deal of money and heartache in the future.
According to the law enforcement officers, the pavement markings are the key. A turn lane has painted markings that sweep in and narrow in the direction you want to turn at an intersection. If the size of the space between the painted lines remains equal, normally a little wider that the width of a car, and doesn’t sweep in to a smaller size the closer you get to the intersection, that’s a safety lane or a median. Driving in these is illegal and according to Lance Corporal David Jones of the SCHP, it could cost you several hundred dollars if you’re caught by an officer. He said that you could be charged with any number of violations that might include driving in the median, operating in the safety lane, or worse. Jones said that if you are zipping down those lanes to get to a turn faster and someone turns across the lane to enter a business or driveway causing a collision, you would be considered at fault in that accident.
Jones said there are several intersections in Lexington County where this type of driving regularly causes accidents. Some of these are the intersection of South Lake Drive and Platt Springs Road, Augusta Road at St. David’s Church Road, and Augusta Road at Wattling just inside West Columbia. He said he has also seen motorists exiting a business or driveway where all lanes of traffic in one direction are stopped for a signal. There may be a turn lane at the signal, but it’s backed up too. Someone is kind enough to allow a vehicle to exit in order to make a left turn in the opposite direction, but when they get their car’s front end into the median, someone who’s trying to hurry and get to the turn lane by driving in the median hits them. Again, that’s usually the fault of the person operating in the median.
In order to prevent getting a costly ticket or having an accident, Jones recommends relaxing and just being patient. He said it’s never worth the cost of the citation and certainly not worth risking your health and safety, or the safety of someone else, to make your turn a few moments faster. Remember, going from a little late to being even later because you got a ticket or had a wreck isn’t smart and it’s just never worth it.