Alaska Driving Statutes - What They Mean

The following statutes and administrative law provisions govern non-commercial driving in Alaska. We offer a select group. Frankly, a good portion of them are common sense and/or pet peeves that just irritate other drivers:

1. Yield to Pedestrians: 13 AAC 02.015 provides that pedestrians have to follow our driving laws. When they face a “Walk” - they have the right-of-way. When they face a “Don’t Walk” - they may complete their crossing, but not step off the curb. The smartest approach is to always assume that pedestrians will ignore the law and run out in front of you like a crazed idiot. Drive accordingly. 13 AAC 02.155 gives pedestrians the right-of-way in “safety zones” - such as where there are no traffic control devices, or where traffic control devises are not working. Always drive like you're in a "safety zone."

2. Treat Dead Signal Lights As 4-Way Stops: When a traffic light is dead, treat it as a 4-way Stop. Yield to the car on your right who stopped first, or at the same time as you. Have good driving manners. Smile and wave at other drivers ... with all of your fingers.

3. Turn Left Into Nearest Lane: When turning into a 4-lane roadway, pull into the nearest lane first, then signal if you want to change lanes. It is a mistake, and illegal, and stupid to “swing wide” while making your initial turn. The rest of us don't expect you to swing wide. It's your fault if you hit somebody while doing so. 13 AAC 02.200(a)&(b).

4. When Turning Left, Yield: 13 AAC 02.125 provides that vehicles turning left must yield to on-coming traffic that are an “immediate hazard.” Countless accidents are caused each year because folks turn left in front of other drivers. Always yield when turning left.

5. Stop at Stop Signs: Here’s a shocker - actually stop at Stop signs. How many folks “glide-on-through” these days? The general rule is to stop, count to three, and then proceed if safe. The police use the same general rule…

6. Yield When Entering the Roadway: 13 AAC 02.135 says you shouldn’t pull out in front of traffic that is an “immediate hazard.” Did you really need to be told this? Also, if you do pull out, and your car spins - and you get hit - guess who's at fault? That’s right: You. In addition to being sued, you can be dead. Be careful out there.

7. Get Out of the Way of Emergency Vehicles: When you see flashing lights, pull off the road. Hang up your cell phone. Put away your lipstick. Put down your food and pull off the damn road. 13 AAC 02.195.

8. Blink When Changing Lanes: Most folks use their blinkers when turning. The same can’t be said for changing lanes. The law requires us to blink when changing lanes. Just do it. 13 AAC 02.215.

9. Don’t Clog Intersections: We’ve all seen it … the guy/gal who “pushes” to be the last person through a red intersection. Sitting squarely in the intersection, he/she obstructs traffic in both directions. In addition to being rude, it’s illegal. Don’t do it. 13 AAC 02.265.

10. Basic Speed Limits: Here is how fast you’re allowed to drive, regardless of whether a sign is present: (1) 15 miles per hour in an alley; (2) 20 miles per hour in a business district; (3) 25 miles per hour in a residential district; or (4) 55 miles per hour on any other roadway. You are also required to slow down when hazards, weather and other “conditions” make it “reasonable and prudent” to slow down. Basically, the law allows the police to ticket you after-the-fact, just for “driving too fast for conditions.” Good luck with your insurance, once that happens. 13 AAC 02.275.

11. Racing is Illegal: Folks who race on Alaskan roads have their own special place in hell. It’s dangerous, stupid and illegal. Don’t do it. Beat your kids if you catch them doing it. 13 AAC 02.330.

12. Bicyclists Follow the Same Rules: Bicyclists belong on our roads. They are treated the same as those who drive motor vehicles. They have the same rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, those of us driving vehicles should pay special attention because we can kill them so easily. Be alert. 13 AAC 02.385 & 13 AAC 02.560.

13. Snowmobiles Follow the Same Rules: You’re not supposed to drive Snowmobiles on Alaskan roads. At the same time, you can cross roads and use roads when they are closed. Remember that when you’re riding your sled on Alaskan roads, you’re held to the same standards as other motorists. Just because you’re faster and more nimble, doesn’t mean you can drive like an idiot. And remember, you can’t outrun a cop’s radio…13 AAC 02.430(b) & 13 AAC 02.560.

14. Stay 500’ Behind Emergency Vehicles: If you happen to be going the same direction as an ambulance, police car or fire truck, stay back at least 500’. 13 AAC 02.520. We see this one causing problems all the time. Some folks, like some dogs, just can resist chasing bright, shiny objects with sirens.

15. Don’t Drink and Drive: Here’s a shocker. Don’t drink and drive. It’s illegal in Alaska. Also, try to avoid hitting pedestrians, animals and other vehicles. 13 AAC 02.545. Did we really need a law for that?

16. Move Away From Police Cars: When a police officer pulls somebody over, and you’re approaching on a 4-lane, move to the far lane, away from the police. It’s safe, courteous, and it won’t anger the poor cop who is just trying to do his/her job.