The other day I was on a small-ish two lane road where traffic in the other lane was traveling in the other direction. I came upon an unattended stopped car with it's emergency blinkers on blocking my current lane. Since I could clearly see no traffic was coming in the other lane I moved around the stopped car, briefly crossing the solid yellow line so I was partially in the wrong lane, before returning back into my own lane and continuing on my way. I was neither the first nor the last car on this road to do so.

I feel little regret for temporarily ignoring the solid line to pass the stopped vehicle, in fact I'm pretty sure I could have done it with a police officer right behind me without worry that I would get a ticket. Still I did violate the rules by traveling in the wrong lane. I was wondering rather this sort of 'common sense' violation of traffic laws to adjust for extenuating circumstances was technically illegal.

I know in an emergency situation I'm allowed to violate the usual rules if necessary to avoid a crash, for example to quickly swerve into the wrong lane to avoid a collision if someone cuts me off and there is no other way to not strike them. However this wasn't an emergency situation. I would likely have been stuck behind this vehicle for an extensive length of time if I had waited and abide by the usual driving laws, but no ones life was in danger. Was I still authorized to adjust the usual rules to move around the obstacle?

  • I think the same question can be asked if you are stopped at a railroad crossing and the gate is down and the RR lights are flashing and the train is moving very slowly towards the crossing, like only going 10 mph. – user30507 Apr 5 '20 at 19:19
  • Traffic laws in the US are state, not federal, so please add the relevant state tag. – Nate Eldredge Apr 5 '20 at 23:27

It's likely that you'll find similar statutes for your state. Florida's specifically considers the circumstances you've described:

316.081 Driving on right side of roadway; exceptions.—

  • (1) Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except as follows:
  • (a) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing such movement;
  • (b) When an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway; provided any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard;

This last entry represents your stalled car. An obstruction exists and you've yielded the right of way to oncoming traffic.

You're good to go.

  • 2
    So: It’s not legal in this situation to violate traffic rules BUT whoever wrote the rules made sure that your situation is not a violation of traffic rules. – gnasher729 Apr 6 '20 at 9:56

To answer your headline question: no

But ...

What you did was almost certainly not a violation of the road rules.

You haven’t given a state so using as an example, the rules state on p. 31:

One solid line: You can pass other vehicles or change lanes, but you can only do so when ob­structions in the road or traffic conditions make it necessary.

  • Most two-lane highways have a double line, though, so you may be referring to the wrong section. Regardless, the traffic code does not depend on the specifics of markings, only whether "official markings are in place indicating those portions of any highway where overtaking and passing or driving to the left of such markings would be especially hazardous" (see sections 1126 and 1120(a)(3)). – phoog Apr 6 '20 at 16:18

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