Left-turn lanes have a very specific purpose, which is to remove traffic from the main travel lanes while cars wait to turn left. In some cases, they have to stop at light-controlled intersections and either wait for a green arrow or wait until traffic is clear to turn. In other cases, the left-hand turn lane may just split up what would otherwise be a two-lane road, and turns can be made at any point -- such as a person turning into their own driveway.
No matter what type of left-hand turn lane it is, the law in Tennessee is very clear about how it can be used. Here are a few key points:
- Drivers can only use the lane when they are making a turn.
- They can use it in advance to prepare for such a turn.
- They can never simply drive in the lane as another traffic lane.
- They can never use it as a passing lane to get around slower-moving traffic.
It sounds obvious, but you see it all the time. A car slows down to turn right, and the driver behind that car swings into the left-turn lane to get around them. They don't want to slow down or wait. They're in a hurry.
This is incredibly dangerous. It can cause a head-on crash if another car enters the left-turn lane between two traffic lanes, meaning to turn left in the opposite direction. It can also cause an accident if the passing car hits the rear of a vehicle waiting to actually turn left.
If you get injured in one of these accidents caused by this illegal practice, you need to know how to seek financial compensation.