If you only want to read the first sentence of this article, then here's the main point: Don't drive more than two to three car lengths in the two-way left-turn lane.
Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake all have one or several streets or roads, all of which are state highways, which employ a "center turn lane," also known as a "two-way left-turn (TWLT) lane." In Malone's case, this traffic pattern has been around for over 25 years, yet drivers still drive along in these lanes like they are drive lanes. They are not to be used for driving - the purpose is for using it to leave a highway or to enter one.
Over the past seven-and-a-half years of writing these articles on traffic law and traffic safety, I have covered how to use these center turn lanes at least six times. I'll try again, a bit stronger this time: DON'T DRIVE IN THESE LANES! In Malone, if you are going to turn into Aldi, don't get into the center turn lane at McDonald's. In Saranac Lake, if you are going to turn left from River Street onto Main Street, don't get into the center turn lane at all; wait until you get to where the center turn lane turns into a dedicated left-turn-only lane prior to the traffic signal. Demars Boulevard in Tupper Lake also has a center turn lane. In all of the examples above, and for ALL center or TWLT lanes, the proper procedure is to enter them two to three car lengths before your turn.
As was explained numerous times before, a TWLT lane may also be used to enter a highway. To properly enter a highway, if there is no traffic coming from your left but there is a long line of vehicles from your right, you may enter the TWLT lane, provided there is no vehicle is in the TWLT lane about to enter the street you are leaving. Once you are in the TWLT lane, you must wait for a break in traffic now coming from your rear and then move over into the drive lane to continue. This alleviates the need to wait for a break in traffic from BOTH directions at the same time before entering the highway.
The biggest misuse of the TWLT lane is from drivers driving in the said lane. We see the improper use frequently in Malone. Areas of abuse include East Main Street from Morton Street to Homestead Park, West Main Street Road from McDonald's to Aldi, and most recently on West Main Street between Pleasant Street and the entrance to the Kmart Plaza. In Saranac Lake, Police Chief Nason tells me the biggest abuse is westbound traffic on River Street prior to Main Street, where drivers run the TWLT lane much too early for their left turn onto Main Street. Misuse often occurs where the TWLT lane ultimately turns into a dedicated left turn lane, where drivers get into the TWLT lane before it becomes a left-turn-only lane.
I am aware that many drivers take the "driver improvement" course offered by some insurance agencies or the American Association of Retired Persons. I suggest those instructors review prudent use of TWLT lanes; it would make driving safer for everyone. In conclusion, don't drive along in the TWLT lane.
For more articles on Vehicle and Traffic Law and traffic safety, visit the Traffic Safety Board's website at: www.franklincony.org and click on the Traffic Safety Board from the pull-down menu under departments. "Like" us on Facebook as well. You may also call me, Dave Werner, at 518-483-1882 with your comments and questions or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.