What is Considered an Improper Lane Change in Oregon?

Most people have a thorough understanding of why traffic laws are important. Traffic laws keep us safe on the roadway by ensuring that everybody operates in an orderly fashion. This includes making proper lane changes. Unfortunately, many accidents in Oregon are caused by improper lane changes. In this state, there are two major statutes that govern improper lane use. Here, we want to examine these laws as well as what is considered an improper lane change in Oregon.

Failure to drive within a single lane

Failing to properly drive within a single lane often constitutes an improper lane change. When we turn to ORS 811.370, it is important to pay attention to the specific language of this statute. The law says that a person must “Operate the vehicle as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane.” The statute goes on to state that a driver must “Refrain from moving from that lane until the driver has first made certain that the movement can be made with safety.”

Unlawful or unsignaled change of lane

Another major statute governing lane usage in Oregon is ORS 811.375. This law addresses the issue of making an unlawful or unsignaled lane change. A violation of this statute occurs when a driver changes lanes by moving to the right or left when either:

  • The right or left movement cannot be made with reasonable safety, or
  • The driver fails to give inappropriate signal continuously for at least the last 100 feet traveled before making the lane change

Case law surrounding this statute revolves around what a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances would do.

The general consensus between the two statutes

When looking at both of the statutes mentioned above, failing to drive within a single lane and unlawful or unsignaled change of lane, we can see that the onus is on the driver to stay within a single lane and only change lanes if it is reasonably safe to do so. Violation of these two statutes is not only punishable by law, but can also lead to severe accidents.

An improper lane change is typically going to catch other drivers unaware. According to data available from the Oregon Department of Transportation, we can see that there were more than 50,000 total vehicle accidents during the latest reporting year across the state. Out these incidents, there were 41,073 injuries reported and 502 total fatalities. Improper lane changes were cited as the cause of nearly 3% of all traffic collisions across Oregon that same year. These incidents often lead to severe injuries for drivers and passengers, including:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Other severe neck and back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions
  • Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
  • and more

Speak to an attorney about your case

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a car accident caused by the improper lane change of another driver, speak to a Portland car accident attorney about your case as soon as possible. A skilled car accident lawyer in Oregon will be able to investigate every aspect of your case in order to determine liability. The goal is to secure the compensation you are entitled to, including coverage of your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more.