Friday, August 14, 2009

WPD August Traffic Initiative - TWLTLs

Between now and the end of August, officers of the Woodstock P.D. will be targeting drivers who violate center-lane and median traffic laws.

These are my favorites, because some drivers use the center lane on Route 47 as a private passing lane.

Certain uses of the two-way left turn lane (TWLTL) are permitted. These lanes are identified by opposing turn arrows painted on the pavement and, in some places, by informational signs posted on the shoulder of the roadway.

For about six years I had been aware of tickets issued in Woodstock for TWLTL violations, and I talked to drivers who received tickets for turns that appeared to be legal under the Illinois Vehicle Code. And then one day I got stopped for making a legal left turn into a TWLTL.

The officer was polite, professional and respectful. After I showed him the section in the Illinois Rules of the Road that permitted such a turn, he issued me a Warning, rather than a ticket.

I asked the City Manager to get a legal opinion from the City Attorney, and one of the attorneys wrote an opinion that such a turn was legal in several paragraphs and then concluded it was illegal. I heard later that several attorneys had discussed my question over pizza at lunch one day. Two of them asked why they were even discussing it, because I was right. They voted. The vote was 5-4 that it was wrong, and out came the letter.

Then I went to former Chief Joe Marvin, who told me a left-turn into a TWLTL was illegal. "Proof" was the signing on the pavement and on the shoulder; the arrows only indicated turns out of the lane. I maintained that the signing identified "traffic control devices" (the turn lane), and it was necessary to read the traffic code for the little, four-letter word "into", which permits safe left turns into the TWLTL.

A simple example: if you pull up at a Stop sign, you stop. Nowhere on the Stop sign does it tell you when or if you can proceed. You have to know that it is the law that allows you to go after stopping.

Then I got the Illinois State Police involved, and they were successful in persuading former Chief Marvin that the law did allow certain, safe left turns into a TWLTL. And then he issued a memo to officers to stop only drivers who violated the law.

Woodstock P.D. needs to enforce center-lane violations. There are many of them.

Drivers drive past long lines of stopped cars at red lights to turn left into businesses (the distance driven is the violation).

Drivers pass long lines of stopped cars to access left-turn lanes early. Illegal, because the TWLTL ends, requiring you to re-enter the traffic lane before entering the left-turn lane.

Drivers use the TWLTL as a passing lane and then cut back into the through lane.

Backing from a driveway on west side of Seminary (Route 47) across the southbound lane into the TWLTL between McHenry Avenue and 1500 N. Seminary is a daily problem. I have never seen anyone stopped for such a turn.

So this is this month's traffic "initiative" (crackdown). It's a good one, as long as only actual violators are stopped. It's a willful violation, not accidental. Tickets should be issued, not warnings.


Troy said...

Joe Marvin was NEVER A COP. He was the Woodstock Officer Friendly " (Community relations officer) and got the chiefs job when Pitzman and Beu got jammed up. Ask guys that knew him. He never worked the street and was just a political gladhander.

Gus is right on the four-letter word "into", which permits safe left turns into the TWLTL. Even most of the Woodstock cops argued that it was legal. The State and County squads made the same manuver when pulling into oe out of businesses along rte 14 becasue they all knew it was designed to be used that way.

Gus said...

Thanks, Troy.

At the time a Sheriff's Dept. supervisor told me that he had "concerns" about Woodstock PD's enforcement against left turns into the TWLTL.

Just imagine any efforts he might have made to get the issue addressed. First, climbing the chain-of-command at MCSD and keeping his fingers crossed that the Sheriff would go to police chief, maybe for a light lunch and discussion of the laws.

No way that was going to happen, so the drivers continued to suffer.

Frank said...

Correct me if I'm wrong Gus but MOST of the WPD's officers who are in the patrol division and will be enforcing these laws weren't there for this little battle with Marvin. I think that these younger/newer officers will do a great job of enforcing the correct laws.

Frank said...

You say at the end of your article that tickets not warnings should be issued. THANKS SHERIFF So much for discretion huh? Will you say "tickets only" when you or one of your friends get a ticket for violating this law?

Gus said...

I believe the year was 2005, only 4 1/2 years ago, so I don't know how many have come on board since then. What I'm positive about is that the officers who were there were following exactly what Joe Marvin said. He and the officer who stopped me used exactly the same words to describe the havoc that such a turn would create, except a safe turn created no havoc at all.

I suspect many of the officers knew their training was wrong, but what do you do when your boss tells you to do something a certain way? If you want to keep your job, you do it that way.

Thanks for your comment.

Gus said...

Yes. Even my mother, if she were living. Even your mother.

DA said...

Oh REALLY, Gus? Then why did you raise such a big disturbance when you received a ticket for having a headlight out on you car, admitting the light was out, yet saying you played tapes for them that it had only been out for a little while?

The law is the law, right Gus? Except when you break the law, then a warning would suffice.