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MailTribune.com
  • Feedback on trucks using I-5's emergency lane on long climbs

  • My recent article on slow trucks using the emergency lane to climb hills generated a lot of feedback. Here are three samples:
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  • My recent article on slow trucks using the emergency lane to climb hills generated a lot of feedback. Here are three samples:
    • According to the federal truck driving rules, it is illegal to drive in the emergency lane unless there is a designated truck lane when climbing a grade. You can get a ticket from the state police, and all states are the same. We teach this to our student drivers at a local truck driving school.
    • As a retired trucker/instructor, I would move over into the shoulder when there was a lot of traffic. I was only stopped once and given a ticket for doing so, but the judge tossed it out. You cannot use that lane to pass someone. But remember, if the driver turns his signal on to move back out of that lane, give the truck room. They might see a slower truck that they are coming up on or someone broken down.
    • I believe more commercial truck drivers would use the shoulder going up Ashland (Siskiyou) grade if there were signs stating it was legal to do so.
    The article also prompted some feedback from Gary Leaming, an ODOT spokesman. He wrote, "Saw your column today. Just so you know, we have a project planned in 2013 that will construct a northbound climbing lane from Hugo to the top of Sexton Summit. This also will repave the interstate north of Hugo to Glendale and take care of a bad southbound curve."
    As a result of his email, I called Leaming to see what ODOT's stance was on the issue. He said that the Siskiyou Pass shoulders are built like climbing lanes but are not designated as climbing lanes. With trucks judiciously using the shoulders when needed, it seems to keep traffic moving. While it is not ideal, it is the reality.
    A sergeant at OSP agreed that the reality is they are not holding up all the freeway traffic when they are climbing the grades, even though they are not officially signed as climbing lanes.
    What this means to me is that the letter of the law says no driving in the emergency lane by trucks climbing hills, but the reality of the situation is that common sense says traffic flows much better when the trucks use the emergency lane to climb hills.
    As such, and because it's not a big safety issue, law enforcement is not going to be enforcing this issue while more productive attention can be paid to such things as speeders, and distracted and impaired drivers.
    Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a regular Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.
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