“Crappy intersection accident advice”

“Dear PoPville,

I was recently in a car accident in a very confusing and crappy intersection in dc (as we all know street signs around here aren’t always the clearest) (see the many stories on popville re: parking and other street signs).

The intersection in question is the “round about” from Montana ave heading south towards West Virginia ave and the exit towards Montana ave SE. In this same “round about,” and the reason for the quotations, is that there is also New York ave running through the middle of that roundabout (see below images).

So please imagine with me that you are at the red light on Montana ave and New York ave (see image below – between these two arrows). Yes, the map is backwards bc google maps puts everything headed north and the incident in question happened heading south. So I reversed it!

Right above the red light there is this street sign above those *two* lanes of traffic.

Seeing as there is no street names correlating to the arrows, as we all well know that dc has done with other traffic circles, one would safely assume a few things: a) the inside lane can go left and straight *only*; b) the outside lane can go right and straight *only*; c) the straight for those two lanes is the same straight, since the arrow isn’t a different size or doesn’t veer off sooner, thus the “straight” is in reference to *continuing* straight from Montana all the way through back onto Montana; d) the left for the inside lane could be argued to either turn left at the inside of the roundabout or to turn left directly at the light onto New York; e) the right for the outside lane is to exit onto West Virginia ave, and is the only legal way for a car to exit onto West Virginia ave; f) the right for the outside lane is not to turn an immediate right onto New York ave as there are street signs directly in front of that lane that say “no right turn” (see below) and there is a separate lane that veered off the circle to exit Montana to New York ave earlier, well before the posted sign above regarding the two lanes. Okay phew!

Now that we’ve cleared up all the possibilities, and explained how entirely f’in confusing this intersection is, let me explain what happened.

Myself and another driver were at the light on Montana ave, heading south, towards Montana ave. I was in the outside lane, she was in the inside lane. Right as we approached the exit for West Virginia ave, the other driver realized she needed to exit (or was supposed to exit and forgot) and tboned me on my drivers rear side.

She claims her “straight” arrow is to continue straight across the intersection from Montana onto West Virginia. The police informed her she was wrong and she cannot do that from the inside lane.

However, and this is where it gets tricky, the police claim that the outside lane cannot exit from Montana to Montana. This blows my mind!!! Please someone, anyone, tell me how two lanes of traffic can be next to each other and have arrows with the same directionals but they are for different streets?!?!?! And we are just supposed to understand this?!?!

What the police said is that the outside lane right is for the veer off to New York ave and the outside lane straight is for exit to West Virginia ave, leaving the outside lane no way to continue course to Montana ave even though there are still *very very clearly* still two lanes on the road there!

No tickets were issued at the scene, but because I didn’t exit to what is supposedly my straight exit (HOW IS THAT CLEAR FROM THE SIGNS?!?!?!), I am now being held solely responsible for the accident and the insurance found me at fault – despite the fact the other driver was admittedly at fault from the second it happened, the police said it was both our fault, and she is the one who hit me!

What recourse do I have here?!?! Who can I contact to figure this darned intersection out?? or help make it clearer?

Side note: I drive this every day to work. And in the time the police were there we saw dozens and dozens of others take the outside lane as the sign instructs, straight from Montana onto Montana right next to their inside lane vehicle doing the same!”

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