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Backing from Driveway in Woodstock

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Backing from Driveway in Woodstock

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
October 29, 2007


Earlier today I posted, and then deleted, an article about a traffic jam on Route 47. Two readers commented quickly that the two officers on the scene were blocking a lane of traffic to protect a power line that had dropped to possibly interfere with southbound truck traffic.

A third reader commented on a backing maneuver which he believed I had made this afternoon. He seems to think I live somewhere I don’t but, for the sake of discussion, I’ll refer to his issue.

When a driver backs out of a driveway on a residential street in Woodstock, what is the proper way to do it? More importantly, what might be an illegal way to do it?

Let’s assume the driveway is mid-block on a residential street with no moving traffic. You back in the driveway and stop before crossing the sidewalk. Then what?

Depending on which direction of travel you intend, you might back to your right with the right side of your car parallel to the near curb, and then proceed “down” the street without crossing the centerline.

But what if you want to go “up” the street? Can you, or should you, back across the near lane of traffic and back “to your left”, so that when you straighten out, you can go “up” the street? Or can you back out of the driveway and back to your left on the near side of the street, and then, as you start forward, cross the centerline as quickly as possible to get on the right (correct) side of the street and proceed “up” the street?

A phone call tonight to the Woodstock Police Department resulted in one clear answer and one “maybe”. The clear answer was that a driver could back out of his driveway across the near lane and across the center line, and then go “up” the street. The “maybe” was that it might be illegal to back out of the driveway and to the left on the near side of the street, and then promptly and entirely cross the center of the roadway to go “up” the street, because this would cause your vehicle to be facing the wrong way in an oncoming direction of travel.

All of the above assume that there is no moving traffic in the block of your driveway.

Until the question was raised by the reader, whose comment was removed only because I deleted the article about the blocked lane of traffic on Route 47, I thought it seemed safer to back to the left without crossing the centerline and then drive quickly to the right side of the street. Understanding now that might be illegal (and being told tonight that there aren’t many State traffic laws about backing), I’ll drop that maneuver. I myself don’t like the idea of backing across a lane of traffic, even on a residential street, so I’ll just turn so that I can go down the street and use side streets to reverse my direction of travel.

If you are not totally confused by all this, would you like to comment on how you would back out of your driveway, in order to travel away from home using the lane on the opposite side of your street?



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