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Driving You Crazy: The drivers going straight from the right turn lane on Mississippi at Buchtel

People just ignore the sign and it happens every day
Posted at 4:27 AM, Aug 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-22 10:30:44-04

Hai from Lakewood writes, “What's driving you crazy? On eastbound Mississippi at Logan, where Buchtel begins, the right-hand lane must turn right and the left-hand lane must turn left onto Logan. The middle lane is the only through lane. People ignore the sign and use the right-hand lane as a through lane. They then honk at me, as I am going straight from the middle lane which is the through lane. It happens daily and drives me crazy.”

I travel through that intersection every day on my way home from work, and I’ve seen all kinds of poor driver behavior there. You are spot-on about how that movement is supposed to work. Drivers in the left lane must turn left, drivers in the right lane must turn right on southbound Logan and the center lane drivers should continue down Buchtel toward Washington Street. One part of that movement you need to remember is that if you are in the through lane, you should end up in the left lane on eastbound Buchtel, not the right lane. I think that is why some drivers in the right lane of Mississippi mistakenly, or purposefully, continue to Buchtel using that right-turn lane.

I watched over several days the traffic flow from eastbound Mississippi at that intersection. Nearly every light cycle, there was at least one driver who ignored the "right turn only" sign and continued east on Buchtel. One potential issue I brought up to Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is that the overhead sign could be more clear about what lane lets a driver go where. The sign that indicates the left turn is very clear, however, the middle lane overhead sign points straight to I-25, while the right turn lane has a right curve instead of a hard 90-degree right angle turn. Conversely, the ground marking has the right turn more angled to indicate a true right and not a curved right like the overhead sign.

I was told that one of the city engineers was out there recently and said even though they have marking on the street, as well as near the signal to direct drivers for each lane, they will look to see if there are other changes they can make so the proper movement is clearer for drivers.

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When I talked with Denver police I was told they are concerned with drivers' behavior when they honk or get angry at another driver.

“The problem with drivers disregarding the lane restriction is this may cause the other motorist to become upset and angry at the motorist that cuts in front of them and did not wait in traffic. This is also a safety issue, as this may cause a traffic crash resulting in property damage or injury due to the driver’s expectation that the other driver did not continue in their lane of travel.”

I did some research and looked through the last five years of crash data at that interchange and learned that there were 38 total crashes, five of which were hit-and-runs and four were DUI related crashes.

Denver police said drivers who go straight down Buchtel from that "right turn only" lane violate Denver Revised Municipal Code 54-202 that states, “Whenever a lane of traffic on any street or highway is indicated by pavement marking, or by a sign, as being assigned solely for left turns, right turns or through traffic, it shall be unlawful for the driver of a vehicle in such lane to make any other movement at an intersection, other than that designated by such sign or marking.”

The fine if caught ignoring the "right only turn" is $100 plus traffic bureau costs of $15 and the V.A.L.E. surcharge of $20. The citation also carries a 3-point violation against a person’s driver’s license.

Driving You Crazy: The drivers going straight from the right turn lane on Mississippi at Buchtel

Denver7 Traffic Expert Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 25 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on any podcast app including iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Podbean.