DC Traffic Don’ts: Regional Road Rules You May Not Know | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

Washington, D.C. is unique as one of the few U.S. cities built according to a preconceived plan.  Its grid-based pattern of roads is relatively easy to comprehend, but maneuvering across it in a car can be a challenge.  Following are some metro area traffic laws that aren’t necessarily common to other U.S. cities.  Knowing these can help make you a safer driver, and make your time in DC more enjoyable:

  • Wireless Phones:  According to D.C. Code Ann. §§ 50-1731.04-.05, unless it’s an emergency, drivers in DC can not use a wireless phone while driving, unless they’re using a hands-free device.  Minor drivers can’t use a wireless phone while driving at all — even with a hands-free device.
  • Yellow Traffic Lights:  According to 18 D.C. Mun. Regs. Ch. 21 § 2103.5(b), a yellow light at an intersection means that drivers must stop before approaching the next crosswalk, unless stopping immediately would be unsafe.
  • Right Turns at Red Lights:  According to 18 D.C. Mun. Regs. Ch. 21 § 2103.7(c), the only direction a driver can turn while stopped at a red light is to the right.
  • Don’t Block the Box:  According to 18 D.C. Mun. Regs. Ch. 21 § 2103.7(a) and Ch. 24 § 2405.1(a), (b), no driver can stop within an intersection, and when approaching a stop light, drivers must stop before the crosswalk.
  • Entering a Traffic Rotary:  According to 18 D.C. Mun. Regs. Ch. 22 § 2208.7, drivers entering a traffic rotary (or circle) must yield to traffic already in the circle.
  • Particulars Regarding the K Street Access Road:  According to 18 D.C. Mun. Regs. Ch. 22 §§ 2201.12 and 2203.8, left turns can not be made from a service roadway onto a through roadway, unless doing so is to proceed in the same general direction, and only at an entrance or exit established by the director.
  • Road Closure Notifications:  Street closures and live traffic reports are available at all times on the District of Columbia website. Commuters and visitors are encouraged to monitor those pages regularly.

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