Michigan driving law question

I was looking through Michigan driving laws to get the evidence to dunk on some jackass in a Youtube comment ;).

When I came upon this i had never seen before.

Upon a roadway that is divided into 3 lanes and provides for 2-way movement of traffic (e.g. one lane on each side of the road going in opposite directions and divided by a “left-hand turn lane”), a vehicle shall not be operated in the center lane except when overtaking and passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction, when the center lane is clear of traffic within a safe distance, or in preparation for a left turn, or where the center lane is at the time allocated exclusively to traffic moving in the same direction the vehicle is proceeding and the allocation is designated by official traffic control devices.” MCL 257.641(1)(b).

This seems odd to me. My reading of it is that it says you can legally use the suicide lane to pass. Am I interpreting that right?

That is what it says.

It’s not that crazy. If the center lane were not there, presumably you would be able to pass by crossing into the oncoming traffic lane. If the roadway had more lanes then presumably you would have a passing lane in your direction of travel. This rule prevents the presence of a center lane from creating a “no passing zone”.

FWIW, Texas Transportation Code - TRANSP § 545.060. Driving on Roadway Laned for Traffic
has essentially the same language:

I have been on stretches of roadway where there is a center lane for a mile or two but no place to use it to make a turn. Why else would it be there?

It’s basically saying “stay out of the lane unless you really need to use it, and these are the acceptable needs for using it”. As mentioned, if you couldn’t pass using the center lane, it would be impossible to overtake slower traffic even on a long slight downhill run with no cars, when there’s even less danger of overtaking when there’s 3 lanes compared to 2, and it’s quite clearly something that’s allowable when there’s two.

This is the exception when the center lane at the time allocated is controlled by an official traffic control devices.

Personally can’t say I’ve ever encountered it, even so local conditions vary and odd situations can exist.Ymmv and ianal.

ETA- it’s not a Michigan practice to pass traffic in the center left turn lane.

I’ve really rarely seen that on country driving. It’s nearly always in the city. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do it except when running from the cops. Once things open up fully I’ll have to find one of my cop acquaintances in a bar and ask what they would think of such a maneuver.

For what it’s worth, I’ve seen this kind of situation quite a few times, but it seems a lot more common in the Southern US (Virginia, the Carolinas anyway) than in Michigan or elsewhere in the Midwest. YMMV (literally I suppose)

We are getting tons of them now in the Detroit area. They are doing what the call a “road diet” . Trying to slow traffic and make business areas a thing again by turning two lane eace way avenues into one lane each way, with a middle turn lane, and bike lanes and/or on street parking.

I know of two places in California that had such lanes 40 years ago (one of them, horribly, on a winding mountainous road). They were known as “blood alleys”. They are both long gone. I doubt that they exist anywhere in California any more.

I’m pretty sure that the “two-way left turn” lanes MUST be used ONLY for beginning or completing a left turn, and may NOT be used for passing.

I do it all the time. When traffic is backed up to a light and there is a left turn lane at the light I whip into the center lane to pass stopped traffic and get to the light. I’ve seen many people do this in Michigan.

Yes why wait for traffic to creep forward if you’re gonna turn left up ahead?

I meant it’s not common practice to use the center left turn lane as a passing lane to get ahead of the vehicle in front of you so you can merge back into the main lane.

I have sometimes wondered if it was legal to drive a quarter mile (or more) in the centerlane to get to the light. So now I know its OK.

While here, what does ETA mean in this context? Estimated time of arrival doesn’t make sense. The acronym finder wasn’t much help.

When I was growing up in Dearborn, Michigan Avenue through downtown West Dearborn had the middle "suicide’ lane for turning. But then during the morning commute, it became an eastbound (into Detroit) express lane, and in the afternoon commute, it became a westbound (out of Detroit) express lane. Of course, on a daily basis, there would be multiple people who didn’t realize the turn lane wasn’t a turn lane at that time. It just seemed like a recipe for daily head-on collisions. I can’t imagine what genius thought turning a left-turn lane into an express lane for a few hours each day was a good idea.

This doesn’t really have anything to do with this thread I suppose. The thread title just reminded me of this.

Okay yeah I wasn’t thinking of that, that is done all the time. I’m talking about using it as a passing lane, Just whip around the guy and pull in front of him. That is what I have never seen anyone do under normal circumstances.

Virginia had many center lane sections in the 1960s when I drove there. All over the winding roads. Each center section was dedicated to a specific lane as denoted by painted lines. In other words, although the center section was continuous, one particular section would be for north bound traffic to pass. The next section was for south bound traffic to pass. The center section for your lane was not very long - just enough room for one car to make it, not a line of passing cars. And you knew that at the end of your legal passing lane there might be another car passing in the opposite lane coming right at you. You had to be quick.

Here in Ohio a center lane is for turning left only. No passing. And it is illegal to pull out of a parking lot into the center lane to wait for traffic to clear to allow you to make it all the way to the far lane.

I’m pretty sure that’s what the quoted part of the law below is referring to.

“…or where the center lane is at the time allocated exclusively to traffic moving in the same direction the vehicle is proceeding and the allocation is designated by official traffic control devices.”

ETA = Edited to add

Whoa, I have no problem with Ohio restricting the center lane to left turns only, seems safe, but I don’t get the restriction against pulling out of a parking lot or cross street then sitting in the center awaiting a chance to merge. Seems a logical thing to do. We do it here in Illinois all the time.

In the state of Washington,