Traffic Q&A: Straddling lanes could get spendy

Question: This is a follow-up to your recent column about when to merge when you see the sign “Right lane ends ahead.” (See Traffic Q&A: When traffic is busy, use both lanes until it’s time to merge,” Dec. 14, 2014.)

People who merge early and wait in line are annoyed — and sometimes enraged — to see others shoot past them in the open right lane and then merge at the last minute.

Sometimes a driver will block drivers who want to pass by straddling the line between the lanes, making it impossible to continue in the right lane.

Is this legal? If not, what’s the infraction, and what’s the fine? — Eva Jo Robb, Spanaway

Answer: It definitely is not legal to straddle two lanes to keep other motorists from passing.

According to Washington State Patrol trooper Guy Gill, drivers could face a negligent driving violation ($500), or even a reckless driving violation ($1,000) for doing it.

They might also be cited for a $124 “lane travel” violation (RCW 46.61.140), which is intended to keep drivers between the lines.

Possible violations aside, Gill said, there’s the issue of road rage.

“You simply don’t know who is in a vehicle next to or around you, and you don’t know what that driver’s reaction could be if you block his or her lane,” Gill said.

“Bottom line is, it’s not worth the ticket or a potential road rage incident with another driver.”