Carson student brings proposed traffic law change to legislature
April 4, 2003
A Carson High student Thursday asked legislators to change traffic laws to let people use center turning lanes to merge into traffic.
Assemblyman Ron Knecht, R-Carson City, introduced Sean Carter to the Assembly Transportation Committee, saying he had raised an issue of which Knecht had been unaware.
It is illegal under current law to make a left turn onto a street into the center lane designed for left turns — and then to merge into traffic from there.
Carter, who said the legislation was a high school project, told lawmakers he surveyed drivers in Carson City and found the vast majority — some 77 percent — not only thought the maneuver was legal but used the technique to merge into traffic when there was a center left-turn lane available.
“There was overwhelming support among the people I talked to about how they do this all the time,” he said.
Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sun Valley, agreed many people break that law but said many also break other traffic laws. He asked whether lawmakers should change the law to conform with what people do just because they break it.
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Knecht answered no but said this wasn’t a comparable situation.
“This is a very reasonable practice that is used in other states,” he said. “This is a matter of a reasonable change in the law to conform with people’s practices.”
He added that it helps people turn left onto a busy street, reducing congestion, waiting time and irritation among drivers.
AB414 would allow people to use the central lane to turn left onto a street and to travel in the lane for up to 200 feet before merging.
A similar 200-foot limit is imposed on people using those lanes to make left turns — the original purpose for those central “storage” lanes.
Officials from the Nevada Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs said they support the change as a way to reduce accidents.
Knecht said the issue came to both his and Carter’s attention through a news story, which said someone received a ticket for the violation.
The committee took no action on the legislation.