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Suicide Lane Rules

This particular contractor has been promising to finish a little job on and off for a year. He sees me the other day and it goes like this:

Contractor: I’m going to be by your house and get that done this week.
Me: Don’t you get tired of lying?
Contractor: Nah, it comes naturally. I shoulda been a lawyer.
Me: Touche.
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Suicide? We’ve all thought about, some of us do it. Frequently. Some follow the law.

That suicide lane, also called the “central lane for turning” according to the Georgia Code, has one purpose, and one purpose only. For making left turns. As with every law, they wrote some “reasonable” things into it, because we are not all reasonable. If reasonable were more common, we’d need fewer lawyers, and then what would I do for a living?

Watson Turn Lane“Whenever a highway or roadway has a central lane in which traffic may enter from either direction for the purposes of making a left turn, no vehicle shall be driven into such central lane except for the purpose of making a left turn, and no vehicle shall enter into such central lane at a location which is more than 300 feet from the location where the vehicle will turn left across one or more lanes of oncoming traffic. No vehicle which has been driven into such a central lane shall be operated in such central lane for more than 300 feet.” (OCGA 40-6-126).

How long is 300 feet? A football field is 360 feet long. So if you drive in the suicide lane for more than a kickoff return for a touchdown, you’ve gone too far. Isn’t it tempting to use the suicide lane to get up to the light when traffic is backed way up? After all, you’re doing everyone behind you a favor by increasing their chances of getting through the light with you out of the way. And you can catch the turn arrow and be on your way as well. It’s a win-win, right? It is, but it’s illegal.

You’re waiting to turn left onto Russell (or Watson or Houston Lake or ….) and traffic is crazy. So you get a clear view to your left and ease out into the suicide lane to await a chance to move into your direction of travel. Spot opens up and you squeeze in. Illegal move, but you did it.

Let’s say you need to take an important call, so you move into the center lane and park it, just for a minute so you can write something down. Illegal. Don’t think that happens? Ask any traffic cop you know, they’ll tell you.

You’d think there’d be scores of appellate cases dealing with “center lane for turning” cases. Not a single criminal case! There is ONE civil case dealing with the suicide lane. That’s it. Why? Because unless you are a kid or in a wreck, best as I can tell, cops don’t cite people for violating this law. Again, suicide, most of us do it, and the ones that do, do it repeatedly.

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