Few Prominent Rules, for Guiding the traffic in Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA has been listed on the list of cities with the worst traffic in the country. The unique challenges like hills, narrow streets, and the always-rainy weather are the major reasons behind the same. This made it all more important for Washington State Department of Transportation to strictly check the violations of traffic laws, in the interest of the public.

There are plenty of rules concerning driving a vehicle in Washington, such as the procurement of a driving license, baby safety, maintenance of vehicles, etc. This blog only focuses on some of the traffic rules a driver needs to follow while driving in Washington State. For a detailed reference, please refer to the WSDOT official site

Opening and closing vehicle doors.

There is a prohibition on entering, leaving or opening the door of a motor vehicle, on the side adjacent to moving traffic. The person must not leave a door open for the longer period than necessary, on the side adjacent to moving traffic, to load or unload the passengers.

Lemon Law

To protect consumers against defective motor vehicles and prevent related accidents in Seattle WA, the State has enacted the Motor Vehicle Warranties Law, also known as the lemon law. Under this law, the consumer can request an arbitration hearing in the Attorney General’s office, at any time, within 30 months of the vehicle’s original retail delivery date.

Look for the speed limit, all the time.

The laws for the speed limit of motorized and non-motorized vehicles in Washington are varied. Strictly, no person can drive a vehicle greater than the allowed speed. The speed limit is applicable:

  • in a roadway construction zone
  • on street, alley or way open to public
  • when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing
  • when approaching and going around a curve
  • when approaching a hillcrest
  • when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway
  • and if any special hazard exists, concerning pedestrians or other traffic, due to weather or roadway conditions.

The violation of this rule is considered as a gross misdemeanour and penalty can amount to twice more than the other violations.

Overtaking a vehicle on the left

One vehicle shall pass to the left while overtaking another vehicle, moving in the same direction, at a safe distance. And until the overtaken vehicle clears itself from the roadway, the vehicle should not start to drive to the right side of the roadway.

No alcoholic beverage consumed or otherwise

The section RCW 46.61.519 states that it is unlawful to drink or possess any container (open or sealed) containing an alcoholic beverage, in a motor vehicle while it is on highway (moving or otherwise). It is only acceptable if the container of alcohol is kept in the trunk or out of the reach of the driver and passengers. There are certain exceptions to the rules.

Distracted driving or under the influence

Drivers can be fined for using hand-held cell phones while driving, stopping at traffic or at a stop light. Though, the use of a Bluetooth device is allowed. The first ticket may cost $136.

Other distractions that may lead to the issuance of ticket, are grooming, smoking, eating or reading, at the time of driving.

Children Left in Running Vehicles

One cannot leave a minor child or children under the age of 16 unattended in a vehicle, while the motor is running. The violation of the law can result in revoking of driver’s license.

Seatbelt Requirements and Penalties

The rules related to seatbelts go by the year in which the vehicle was built.

  • For the vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1965, the front seat must have at least two lap-type seat belts.
    • For the vehicles built after January 1, 1968, each permanent passenger seating position must have a lap-type safety belt assembly.

Studded tires

Studded tires or snow tires are meant to be driven on snow or ice. They are approved for use from November 1 to March 31. Although, there are some additional periods for their usage (by 2018, the date has been extended to April 15). Vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds are not allowed to have studded tires.

Vehicle Licenses

It is mandatory to have a front and back license plate to be displayed on the vehicle if the vehicle is registered in Washington State. Any discrepancy may result in a fine of up to $1,134, plus the taxes and fees due. Failure to renew an expired registration is also unlawful and liable for the ticket.

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