On a recent drive home, I had the misfortune to miss my exit off the interstate. Talking with my passenger, I neglected to notice that my exit was on the other side of the slower traffic I was passing. There was only one legal option after missing the exit. Take the next one.

In a busier area along the freeway, taking the next exit may be a nuisance, but only a little more than that. When traveling through rural regions, there aren’t many opportunities when you find yourself afoul of not listening to your ever-so-polite computer-generated disembodied map app voice telling you where to go. Heaven forbid you are on I-70 with 110 miles before you can turn around.

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Freeway Exits Are the Only Way to Turn Around Safely and Legally

The temptation is real. What can be the harm in using the median cross just this one time? Sure, there are places where it is impossible to cross, but those gravel crossways are sitting there unused and tempting on a mostly empty freeway at night. Why not save the extra 20 minutes (or more) of driving and use one just this once? What is the worst that could happen?

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People have trouble performing a U-turn going 25 miles per hour - or slower. There are serious concerns about pulling into traffic from a dead stop on the freeway as traffic passes by going 80 miles per hour or faster. Emergency vehicles and police officers have the advantage of big lights flashing on top of their cars warning traffic of their entry into the lanes. Private citizens have no such advantage.

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Fines if you are caught using the median as your personal ‘oops, my bad’ turn-out can be substantial. It states in the Idaho Drivers Manual in Chapter 2 page 11:

• Median Strip: It’s illegal to drive across a barrier or unpaved strip that separates two halves of a roadway except at an authorized opening or crossover. This is not allowed on Interstate highways (freeways)—crossovers are for emergency vehicles only.

If caught using it, the fine can be hefty. There is a basic moving infraction, topped with a possible reckless driving ticket. Then there is a consideration of how many points there are on your license. Those things stick to you for 3 years.

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