Driving On The Shoulder Of The Road

QUESTION: When is it appropriate to paint a STOP LINE on the SHOULDER of the road — black & gold arrow picture #7-2 below?

Picture #7-2

ANSWER #1: IT’S NOT! The vehicle in picture #7-2 above seemingly is moving into a right-turn lane and is preparing to turn right. Unfortunately, as we move the picture further back (see picture #7-3 below) it becomes apparent the motorist in the above picture was actually moving onto the SHOULDER of the road to make the right-turn. There is also no question this motorist believed he/she was performing a legal traffic maneuver — but that is not the case.

Picture #7-3

ANSWER #2: STOP LINES should not be painted on the SHOULDER of the road — it serves only the negative purpose of inconsistency/confusion.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Many Delaware motorists will interpret a SHOULDER with a painted STOP LINE as a legitimate right-turn lane. The only legal maneuver for driving on the SHOULDER of the road according to Delaware Traffic Law is when a motorist is passing left-turning traffic on the right. Once the passing maneuver has been completed the motorist must return to the through traffic lane (it is also legal to make a right-turn across the SHOULDER to enter a driveway and/or business).

While the “The D Team” was unable to find in Delaware Traffic Law a specific law that prohibits driving on the SHOULDER — the following should be strongly considered before venturing on a driving tour down the road SHOULDER (especially when intending to enter a right-turn lane using the road SHOULDER picture #7-4 below).

Picture #7-4

The motor vehicles being passed on the right by the utilization of the SHOULDER of the road are not intending to turn left. They are through traffic vehicles. Thus the vehicle traveling on the SHOULDER of the road below is in violation of Delaware Law.


§ 4117. When overtaking on the right is permitted.
(c) When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn, the vehicle approaching from the rear may pass on the right using the shoulder if necessary.

Obviously, if a motor vehicle is disabled and cannot maintain the normal flow of traffic, the SHOULDER is where it belongs and the hazard lights should be activated.

WARNING: A disabled motor vehicle traveling on the road SHOULDER should not be proceeding at a speed greater than through traffic. Thus the disabled vehicle should not be passing through traffic when utilizing the road SHOULDER — unless the through traffic is at a standstill.

Picture #7-5

The motor vehicle in picture #7-5 above is traveling illegally on the SHOULDER of the road preparing to make a right-turn into the Dickinson High School complex. There is little doubt this motorist is not aware of illegalities of his/her driving behavior. Furthermore, the improper painting of the STOP LINE on the road SHOULDER has led school traffic to illegally interpret the SHOULDER as a right-turn lane (see picture #7-6 immediately below).

Picture #7-6

“The D Team” FIX IT recommendations: Remove the STOP LINE and stripe the SHOULDER to identify it is not a right-turn lane or place a right-turn arrow in the current SHOULDER and make it a legal right-turn lane.

Picture #7-7

Picture #7-7 above once again identifies the Dickinson High School Entrance. “The D Team” recognizes many Delaware motorists will misinterpret the dual traffic signals as controlling two separate traffic lanes. However, the right lane is actually the SHOULDER of the road and is not a legal traffic lane.

A LITTLE KNOWN SECRET: DelDOT attempts to place intersection traffic signals in duplicates — meaning there are many times two traffic signals are controlling the same movement.

THE REASON FOR DUPLICATION: Because at some future time a traffic light will malfunction (burn out). Therefore, both traffic signals in picture #7-8 below control the through traffic lane which is where not only through traffic travels, but also where right-turns are legally initiated.

Picture #7-8

REPEAT of “The D Team”FIX IT recommendations: Remove the STOP LINE and stripe the shoulder to identify it is not a right-turn lane or place a right-turn arrow in the current SHOULDER and make it a legal right-turn lane. This “The D Team” FIX IT recommendation applies to all SHOULDERS that currently contain a STOP LINE.

Delaware Defensive Driving Course