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Category: Traffic Q&A


Traffic Q&A: Back to (driving) school edition

With school starting this week in Tacoma, Puyallup, Federal Way and several other districts and elsewhere next week, it’s a good time to review some FAQs about school zones and school buses. Over the years, we’ve gotten more questions on this subject for our Traffic Q&A column than any other.

Who decides where to put school zones? Why do they extend seemingly far away from a school? Where does a school zone end if not posted?

State law (RCW 46.61.440) determines school zones based on the location of school crosswalks. A school zone extends 300 feet on either side of

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Traffic Q&A: Is it always illegal to jaywalk?

Question: Is it illegal statewide to jaywalk or just in areas where specified? There are many bus stops, for example, that are blocks away from crosswalks. Auburn Way for example. Are we truly expected to walk to the nearest crosswalk when in some cases those getting off the bus live right across the street?

Dorothy Churchill, Bonney Lake

Answer: State law doesn’t say you have to be in a crosswalk to cross a street. What it says is you can’t cross in the middle of a block if there are intersections at each end that are controlled by signals.

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TRAFFIC Traffic Q&A: When are they going to fix I-5 in south King County

Question: “Are there any plans to repave I-5 between Southcenter and Federal Way – or at least fill in the many potholes that have developed, in particular in the southbound direction up the Southcenter hill?”

– Terry Arnhold, Federal Way

Answer: The good news is that some relief is in the works; the bad news is you and your suspension are going to have to bear with it for several years.

According to Jamie Holter of the Washington State Department of Transportation, a repair project is scheduled to start in 2015 on the eight miles of southbound Interstate 5 between

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TRAFFIC Q&A: Can Indian tribes issue license plates?

QUESTION: “On a recent trip through Federal Way I came across a private vehicle driving through the city with Muckleshoot Indian Tribe license plates. Since when were Indian tribes allowed to issue license plates to their members?”
– Richard Six Jr., Northeast Tacoma

ANSWER: A little-known, but long established law (RCW 6.16.022) allows recognized tribes to issue the equivalent of exempt license plates used on federal or state government vehicles.

“The Muckleshoot Tribe of King County is one of many tribes authorized by state law to use Native American Exempt license plates for use on vehicles owned by

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Traffic Q&A: Stopping for ramp meter signal

Question: “I see a lot of people ignore and go through a red on-ramp traffic signal. Is this legal or can a violation be issued to drivers?”
– Curtis Lewis, Puyallup

Answer: It is not legal to ignore the light. A ramp meter signal has the same status as any other signal and running through it is considered failing to obey a traffic signal, confirms Washington State Patrol spokesman J.J. Gundermann.

The Washington State Department of Transportation offer this guidance for motorists encountering ramp meters: “Drive your vehicle up to the white line, or stop bar, to trigger

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Traffic Q&A: Who yields to whom on highways?

Questions: A couple questions this week regarding merging and yielding.

Pat Mills of Spanaway is wondering about the dreaded 176th Street South and Pacific Avenue/State Route 7 intersection.

“During rush hours, drivers from 176th stop for their red light, then proceed (southbound). There are short collector lanes, then these drivers force their way between the cars already on Pacific, who had a green light at the intersection. There is no sign on Pacific warning drivers of an upcoming merge. Are the drivers turning right supposed to be yielding to the cross traffic, or are the drivers on Pacific supposed

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Traffic Q&A: Can disabled park free in downtown Tacoma

Question: Jerry Brandfas of Parkland has a question about the new paid parking system in downtown Tacoma. “Can vehicles with disabled permits park free in the paid parking sections of Tacoma?” he asks.

Francie Nation of Lakewood wrote in with a similar concern: “Before the City of Tacoma changed the parking rules I could park in any one hour spot all day if I needed to. Now I don’t know where I can park. Because of my handicap I use a walker and need to park close. I also don’t move very fast. As a result I just don’t go

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Traffic Q&A: A 4.5 second rule for complete stop?

QUESTION: This week’s question was prompted by a recent letter to the editor from Karla Hopkins of Mount Vernon and follow up letters and comments. Following a visit to Fife, Hopkins’ husband received a $124 photo enforcement ticket in the mail for an improper right turn. She went online to view a video of the violation.

“After watching the video several times, I called the Fife Photo Enforcement Customer Service Call Center and asked them to view the video and tell me exactly what he had done wrong,” Hopkins wrote. “He came to a full stop, his turn signal was

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