Oregon Driving Laws

5 Oregon Driving Law Myths: Laws You Think You Know, But You Don’t

Oregon drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists all believe they have a strong grasp, by and large, of the rules and regulations that govern the use of our roads and highways, as well as the traffic control devices designed to protect people at busy and dangerous intersections. Unfortunately, Portland police officers are often confronted by five myths, in particular, the people believe to be true but are, in fact, dangerous misconceptions.

Myth No. 1: The light was yellow, so it was ok for me to speed up to make it through in time.

This particular “urban legend” leads to a large number of T-bone type crashes at busy Portland intersections every year. Yet there is a very specific Oregon statute dealing with this issue. ORS 811.265 refers to “Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device;” the requirement is for all vehicles to stop at a yellow light just as they would at a red light. The statute goes on to state that a vehicle may only proceed through a yellow light if—and only if—they cannot stop with safety.

Myth No. 2: As a pedestrian, I ALWAYS have the right of way over motor vehicles.

As well as leading to unseemly arguments and the occasional use of language best left to very, very bad movie scripts, this myth has also led to far too many serious accidents between pedestrians and vehicles. As Portland personal injury attorneys frequently point out, in those kinds of accidents, there will always be only one winner…and it won’t be the pedestrian.

Portland has more than its fair share of dark, rainy and cloudy days, and pedestrians often find out too late that they’re not as visible to the motorist as vice versa, whether or not they have the right of way. ORS 811.005 is a road statute that applies to pedestrians, and it states in part:

  • Pedestrians must exercise care when entering onto a roadway.
  • A pedestrian cannot walk out in front of an approaching vehicle without giving that vehicle’s driver some notice of the pedestrian’s intention to enter the roadway. People out jogging or walking for exercise frequently don’t want to stop or interrupt their exercise and many injuries have been caused when people trying to get more physically fit instead of wind up getting physically flattened by an unsuspecting motorist.

While the statute does not, of course, ban the wearing of dark clothing, the Portland Police Department reminds people who do go out in dark-colored clothes, especially in the winter months, that they can be very difficult to see. Crossing the road in an unexpected place also heightens the dangers for both the pedestrian and the unsuspecting motorist.

Myth No. 3: I can use the left turn lane (or designated center turn lane) as a merging lane or as a lane of travel to get up to my anticipated turning point.

This could rank as among the most highly abused of our five Portland driving myths. The incorrect use of left-turn lanes is tempting, relatively easy and the obvious choice for many motorists trying to make up time during periods of heavy traffic. But here’s the catch. It’s illegal, and it’s extremely dangerous.

ORS 811.346 – Misuse of Special Left Turn Lane. This statute requires:

  • All vehicles to use these continuous left-turn lanes exclusively for turning into or out of a driveway
  • Those who use these lanes to turn from a driveway with a view to merging with traffic are allowed to do so only if they stop and remain stopped before actually merging with traffic.
  • Using these lanes to pass traffic to reach your turning point is specifically in breach of the statute and punishable with a hefty fine.

Myth No. 4: I can ride my bicycle on a sidewalk just the same as riding on the street.

Here we have another great source of Portland argument and displays of verbal versatility, as well as a sudden, spontaneous interest in what the cyclist’s grandmother used to do for a living. Portland pedestrians frequently voice their opinion that there should be a law protecting them from cyclists using sidewalks. Well, there is such a law.

ORS 814.410 – Unsafe Operation of a Bicycle on a Sidewalk. Before any of the pedestrians get too excited, this statute does not ban bicycles from sidewalks, but it does protect pedestrians from cyclists going too fast. The statute specifically states that:

  • A bicyclist can operate at a speed no faster than walking pace when passing any pedestrians.
  • The bicyclist must give an audible warning when passing any pedestrian.
  • The bicyclist must also slow to no more than a walking pace when:

o Crossing a driveway entrance or exit

o Leaving the sidewalk to enter the roadway

o Entering the roadway at a crosswalk

The last three elements of that statute are clearly designed to give motorists a fair chance to spot the bicyclist when the bike either enters the road or passes a driveway.

Myth No. 5 – Slowing down or moving a lane away from stopped emergency vehicles is only a courtesy, but it’s not a law.

Well, here’s the thing; it actually is the law in Oregon and has been for a few years now. The law was enacted as a reaction to a number of horrific crashes between police vehicles and other emergency responders with drivers who swerved from the right lane into the emergency lane.

A number of people were killed in these collisions, and one of the results of this carnage was ORS 811.147 – Failure to Maintain Safe Distance from Emergency Vehicles. This multi-faceted piece of safety legislation covers most classes of emergency response vehicles, including:

  • Police
  • Fire
  • Ambulances
  • Roadside assistance vehicles
  • Tow vehicles

The lawmakers who drew up this legislation recognize it is not always feasible, safe or even possible to move over one lane. However, regardless of which lane you find yourself in, the statute is very specific about the requirement to slow down when passing a stopped emergency vehicle.

Whatever the posted speed limit is, all drivers are required under ORS 811.147 to reduce their speed to at least five miles per hour below that posted speed limit. Failure to obey this law isn’t just rude, and it’s not just illegal; it’s downright dangerous.

Other road myths are no doubt out there, but Portland police say the five listed above are the ones with which they are most frequently confronted. The sad but all-too-real thing about these driving myths is that the people who believe them to be true often cause serious accidents where completely innocent victims receive horrible, painful injuries.

If you’ve been a victim of a Portland driving myth by someone who simply didn’t know the real rules of the road (or who chose to ignore them), you have a right to compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered, as well as the out of pocket expenses, ongoing medical bills and for your pain and suffering. Make a call to a highly experienced Portland personal injury lawyer and ask a few questions. The consultation is free, and if you then decide to proceed with your claim, a good attorney will guide you through every step of the entire process and work hard to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Source – hg.org

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My name is Tye Farnsworth, thank you for reading this bio! I was born and raised in Central Oregon. For an affordable insurance quote please contact me at (541) 318-8835 or connect with me online.