When cross traffic is heavy, frustrated motorists sometimes take matters into their own hands, nosing their way into the flow any way they can. But is it legal? That’s what Road Warrior reader Ralph wanted to know.

Question: I see people turning right from Merced Avenue onto Highway 12, eastbound, and using the shoulder as if it was a merging lane on the freeway. Is this legal? It seems dangerous and just plain stupid.

Same with using the suicide lanes as merging lanes. – Ralph

Answer: The right shoulder should not be used as a merging lane, and drivers could be cited for doing that. They should wait until oncoming traffic is clear to turn.

As for the “suicide lane,” I assume he is refering to the middle turn lane. You cannot drive in the middle turn lane for more than 200 feet, but you can use it to merge as long as you are under that. – Officer Jon Sloat, CHP spokesman


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    This maybe a little off topic, Why is there a 55mph speed limit sign just beyond the 65mph one on the Cotati grade south bound 101 just pass the 116 exit? the construction is done!

    May 22nd, 2013 9:31 am

  2. Peaches

    The “shoulder” in question is a bus stop with a wide paved area both before and after the stop itself to facilitate safe deceleration and acceleration/merging of the bus on a stretch of road that is very heavily traveled at certain times of the day. The use of the bus acceleration zone increases safety at those times because it allows cars to get up to speed before merging. This intersection has a long history of multiple accidents when people are impatient or misjudge the oncoming traffic. Speeders who “close the gap” don’t help either. I see no reason not to take advantage of this safety feature for a right hand turn during heavy traffic times.

    May 22nd, 2013 9:40 am

  3. Road.Warrior

    A reader tells us it has been removed and replace with one that says 65. Let us know if you’re still seeing it.

    May 22nd, 2013 10:23 am

  4. joe donegan

    With ten percent of the drivers in Sonoma County never have had a license. And another 4 to 6% driving on a revoked or suspended license. I find it amazing that more people are not killed by absurd driving practices such as the one described in the article. Bus zones are not car zones. A car will never win in a collision with a bus. It is simple physics.

    May 22nd, 2013 11:20 am

  5. Geoff Lusk

    The merging lane on west bound highway 12 at 101 seems very dangerous. Traffic exiting northbound 101 has to merge onto12 in the same 100 foot stretch that cars have to exit 12 onto 101south.

    May 22nd, 2013 12:17 pm

  6. teedog

    Not only doing these illegal manouvers, but NO ONE USES THEIR TURN SIGNAL ANYMORE! They act as if people around them know when they are making a turn, we are not mind readers.

    May 22nd, 2013 3:26 pm

  7. bill

    teedog: They’re too busy posting the turning information on Facebook

    May 22nd, 2013 5:18 pm

  8. Safedriver

    Remember the bullies on the school playground at recess time? Well, now they’re the drivers pushing you on the freeway. We’ll always have bullies. It’s good you’re aware of them. It makes it easier to avoid being hit by one. It keeps the insurance rates down too.
    The most effective change would be for public agencies catch up on lane markings and sign placement improvements. Rethink light timings in view of current traffic flow. The infrastructure is in decline.

    May 22nd, 2013 10:01 pm

  9. Craig

    *** MC RIDER ***

    This maybe a little off topic, Why is there a 55mph speed limit sign just beyond the 65mph one on the Cotati grade south bound 101 just pass the 116 exit? the construction is done!

    Is the speed limit on 101(SB) out of Cotati back to 55? I know that it was 65 for a good 6 months. BECAUSE, it is a RACE WAY now. If you obey the 55 MPH sign, your going to get leveled by everyone. Including Prius drivers.

    I have seen CHP bike patrole on NB but not SB.

    May 23rd, 2013 4:07 pm

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