‘Rat running’ in Kansas traffic? What the law says about cutting through parking lots

It’s an act that isn’t uncommon. You’re running late and keep hitting red light after red light. You can either wait your turn or you cut through a nearby parking lot to avoid traffic.

While “rat running,” as some people call it, is a common practice, is it legal?

Many states have laws forbidding the act, including Florida, Texas, Illinois and New York, according to online legal encyclopedia NOLO. In Florida, drivers could get a $60 fine for avoiding traffic signals. In Illinois, the fine could reach $1,000. New York drivers could face 15 days in jail.

Unlike those states, Kansas does not have a law prohibiting rat running. But while statewide laws may not address the topic, the city of Wichita does have an ordinance.

“No person shall utilize the entrance or driveway of any private property within one hundred fifty feet of any street intersection for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing a traffic-control device,” Wichita’s city ordinance reads.

The penalty for rat running is a fine of $101.50, Wichita Police Department’s senior information officer Andrew Ford told the Eagle in an email.

Tips for navigating traffic safely

If you occasionally rat run to get to your destination on time, you may now want to start leaving earlier to account for extra time waiting at stop lights.

Other things to keep in mind when facing heavy traffic include avoiding driving slow in the left lane and being aware of the rules of the road regarding school buses and funeral processions.

If you find yourself in heavy traffic, here are some tips to navigate it safely from insurance company State Farm:

  • Don’t weave from different lanes.

  • Keep at least a three-second distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.

  • Keep an eye out for when drivers ahead of you brake.

  • Avoid any activities that may distract you, like making phone calls or eating.

  • Make a plan ahead of your trip if traffic is expected.