What Are Oregon’s Move Over Laws and Driving Myths?

Oregon’s driving laws are in place to decrease the likelihood of car accidents and other dangerous situations. Regardless, some Oregon residents are under false impressions when (it comes to) what they think is appropriate driving behavior.

Portland move over law

Oregon’s Move Over Law

Oregon established its Move Over Law (ORS 811.147) in response to the unnecessary volume of accidents involving drivers crashing into various emergency vehicles that are idle on the side of the road. The details of Move Over Law involve the following: 1) If available, the driver must move over into a different lane that is further from the stalled vehicle. 2) Driving speed must be reduced to at least 5 mph under the speed limit. 3) The driver must give the parked vehicle as much space as necessary for safe passing. Disobeying this law results in a fine of $400.00.

Many laws and statutes exist that discuss other dangerous driving habits, but not all drivers are aware that these laws exist. In many cases, drivers tend to make decisions in ambiguous circumstances based on instinct, or other factors such as being in a hurry. Below are several driving myths that Oregon natives have admitted taking part in, and reasons why these behaviors should be discontinued.

Speeding Through Yellow Lights

Speeding through a yellow light is one bad driving habit that many well-intentioned drivers exhibit. T-bone crashes have been the most common consequence of this habit, posing a fatal risk to both the speeding driver and the driver that is entering the intersection. Oregon’s statute ORS 811.265 addresses this through its designation as a failure to obey a traffic signal. Specifically, drivers are required to stop at yellow lights just as they would stop at a red light, unless it impedes driver safety.

Pedestrian Right of Way

It is often thought that pedestrians always have the right of way, even in vehicle-heavy environments. Most lawsuits involving pedestrian injury rule in favor of the driver, especially in circumstances of bad weather and faulty visibility. According to ORS 811.005, pedestrians must use caution when entering any roadway. This includes allowing vehicles to pass before entering and the roadway, refraining from stepping out directly in front of vehicles.

Inappropriate Turn Lane Usage

One of the most common local myths is that any left/center turn lane can be used to merge or drive through (as if it is an additional lane), if the driver is eventually going to turn. Both behaviors are illegal and often cause accidents with oncoming traffic. ORS 811.346 is a specific law that addresses left turn lane usage. It states:

  • Left turn lanes cannot be driven in until the turning entry point is approached.
  • Left turn lanes cannot be used to turn prematurely to avoid further traffic. Vehicles may use these lanes to pull out of driveways or lots but must make a complete stop before continuing into traffic.

Safe Bicycle Paths

Many pedestrians believe that riding a bicycle on the street is no different than riding on the sidewalk. ORS 814.410 addresses this issue specifically by preventing unsafe sidewalk environments for pedestrians who encounter bicyclists. This law states:

  • Bicyclists must ride at walking speed when approaching pedestrians.
  • Bicyclists must give a verbal warning when passing a pedestrian.
  • Bicyclists must slow to walking speed when riding past a driveway entrance/exit and leaving/entering the sidewalk at any point.

Slowing Down for Emergency Vehicles

Numerous drivers propagate the myth that this rule is optional, up to the driver’s discretion. In reality, Oregon law ORS 811.147 addresses this myth directly as a result of the numerous accidents caused by drivers veering into the emergency vehicle’s lane. This law requires drivers to slow down to at least 5 mph below the speed limit and switch lanes (if possible) when passing a parked emergency vehicle in the road.

Driver safety laws reduce the number of accidents that are caused by incorrect assumptions and potential gray areas. In the state of Oregon, these laws were established to address previously dangerous situations born out of unsafe driving habits and continue to keep the state safe.