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Ask A Cop: Line cutters

Editor’s note: Every week a Lake Oswego police officer answers your questions in this space. Please send your questions to reporter Cliff Newell at cnewell@lakeoswegoreview.com or call 503-636-1281, ext 105.

“Who exactly must yield to the other driver? Currently, most folks get into line in the left lane, even up by Goodwill, while the cheaters buzz down the right lane, across the bridge only to then cut off the drivers in the left lane. I would really like to know who has the right-of-way at that moment where the two lanes go into one.”

 

This is a great question and one that even has us in the traffic unit pause to really examine the situation there. What I can tell you first is that it is not illegal for the motorists in the right lane to pass by the backed up traffic in the left lane so long as the overtaking vehicle is proceeding along a roadway with two or more clearly marked lanes of travel (ORS 811.415 —— Unsafe passing on the right; subsection 2(b)). Even though the motorist is allowed to do this, they must still obey other traffic laws like traveling the posted speed limit (ORS 811.111 —— Violation of the posted speed limit) and then before merging to the left lane, ensure they signal 100 feet continuously before making that lane change while also being certain the movement can be made safely, i.e. there isn’t a car occupying the lane next to them (ORS 811.335 —— Unlawful or Un-signaled turn). 

When looking at these traffic laws, especially ORS 811.335, it would appear the driver who is already in their lane of travel would have the right of way over the driver attempting to move from the right lane to the left lane. This takes into account how the merging driver has to ensure it’s safe to initiate the lane change before moving over.

We understand how frustrating it can be to us drivers that plan our routes ahead of time to ensure we are in the correct position to get where we need to go only to have the “cheaters” cut around us. SIMONWe think, “Seriously? We waited in line, they should too!” The only advice I can offer is this: “Don’t worry about it.” We get that it’s frustrating but if we became frustrated by the less than courteous behavior of some of our drivers, we’d be mad all the time and I can assure you it’s not worth getting into an unpredictable road rage type of incident. Exercise better judgment than those drivers that fail to grasp the idea that we all need to safely share the roads with each other and let me and my fellow officers introduce ourselves to those persons that don’t drive safely.

— Officer Clayton Simon

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