• Clarifying the U-turn confusion

  • I'm slightly confused about the Oregon code concerning U-turns. My confusion concerns Oregon Vehicle Code 811.365 1(c)(A) and (B).
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  • I'm slightly confused about the Oregon code concerning U-turns. My confusion concerns Oregon Vehicle Code 811.365 1(c)(A) and (B).
    A U-turn is illegal 1(a) "Within an intersection where traffic is controlled by an electrical signal. This paragraph does not apply where posted otherwise." 1(b) "Upon a highway within the limits of an incorporated city between intersections." Then the code continues with 1(c), "At any place upon a highway where the vehicle cannot be seen by another driver approaching from either direction, within a distance of (A) 500 feet within the incorporated limits of a city or (B) 1,000 feet outside a city."
    This differs slightly from the Oregon Driver Manual, which says, "Any other urban location where you cannot see traffic coming from both directions for 500 feet."
    To me, this code means U-turns are illegal (almost) anywhere within an incorporated city, because all highways are between intersections. The only situation I can think of that would not apply would be at a place with good visibility on a highway where one intersection is in a city and the next intersection is in an unincorporated area. These situations have to be very limited.
    Why do you think clause (A) is in this statute? 811.365(1)(b) already prohibits U-turns inside city limits, if on a highway and between an intersection. Why doesn't the code just say U-turns are illegal (unless posted otherwise) within city limits and in unincorporated areas where you cannot be seen by drivers approaching in either direction for 1,000 feet?
    — Stuart G.
    This is certainly not the best written or easiest to understand law that is on the books, with that I'll agree. Where you've missed something is in part 1(a) that prohibits U-turns within intersections controlled by an electrical signal. Thus, they would be allowed at intersections without electrical signals as long as the sight distances are met. That's where clause (A) would come into play, and why it's in the law.
    An example that I can think of would be southbound Biddle Road at Superior Court. That is an uncontrolled intersection, and it would be legal for a southbound vehicle to make a U-turn and go northbound. I'm sure there are other spots that would qualify as well, but I agree that the situations, as you say, are limited.
    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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