There’s some things you need to know about the middle turn lane in Traffic
When you get your license renewed, some states require re-testing your knowledge of the road. Michigan has some scenarios where that's the case. In taking the most recent Driver's License Test, though, I noticed something that's missing from the Michigan test in particular... center turn lane etiquette.
Normally, it wouldn't be a big deal. I've never had an issue with middle turn lanes before coming to Michigan. But in the past week, multiple occasions have put me, and my vehicle's beautiful bodies in danger of being damaged - twice in one day even.
So what ARE the rules of center lane? Well, let's walk through some of the written, and even some unwritten rules that might keep us all safer on the road.
1. It is NOT a travel lane.
No, that center lane, with yellow lines on both sides, and turn arrows every couple-dozen yards, is NOT a lane you can just drive in until you get to where you want to be. On more than one occasion, I've seen people use it as their own personal carpool lane. Don't do that.
2. DO NOT PASS anyone with that lane
If traffic is slow in front of you in the main lanes, do NOT use that center lane as a pass lane. I don't care HOW big of a hurry you're in, stop it. If you're a couple minutes late to your spray tan appointment, they'll forgive you. Hot Boy/Girl Summer is JUST getting started.
3. Commit to the Lane
Once you turn into that lane, DO NOT DEVIATE! More than once, a person in front of me has turned into the lane too early, and then tried to whip back out into traffic. Once I see you pulled into that lane, I'm accelerating past you. If you try to come BACK into my lane, chances are, I'm already right up beside you, and don't really want to whip into the right lane to sideswipe a soccer mom in a minivan. If you DO make a mistake, and turn in too early... either stay there until the lane is clear for you to pull back out into traffic, or just make the turn anyway.
4. Wait your Turn
You know your left turn is coming up, you can see the Meijer "Enter" drive ahead, so you drift over into the turn lane... 2 blocks early. If I'm behind you, I appreciate you using your blinker to let me know you're moving over, but the guy coming from the OTHER direction needed to cross the other way to get to Starbucks on the other side of the road. Now you're in a pickle, because you're still a hundred yards from your turn, sitting nose to nose with another driver, blocking a path to their morning Venti Iced Caramel Latte with extra whipped cream. Wait until you're closer to your turn. Start slowing down, sure, but wait until the last dozen-or-so yards to get over into that lane.
5. It's not a merge lane
I'll admit, I've made this mistake myself. Traffic coming from the right, I'm turning left, and want to get up to speed before I pull into traffic. I'll be the first to admit, I was wrong for doing this, and don't plan on ever doing it again. Because while you're pulling into that turn lane to accelerate, and look over your right shoulder for traffic behind you... someone in front of you could be pulling into that lane to turn left the other way. All it takes is a couple seconds, and next thing you know, you're cars are both totaled, and you're waking up in the hospital with your car's steering wheel emblem plastered to your forehead. Not to mention, there's literally something created in the state of Michigan to avoid this... the Michigan Left Turn. Do that instead.
Hopefully these tips help you out on the road, and keep you safe, and you know someone who abuses their turn lane privileges, consider sending them this list. Also, if anyone from the Department of Motor Vehicles in Michigan is reading this, any chance we could add this topic to the license renewal test?