Law does prohibit trailers in left lane

Years ago in a different state, I got a ticket for being in the third (far left) lane while pulling a two-axle trailer. Is the law the same in Oregon? I notice on my trips up and down I-5 that commercial trucks and trailers hold up traffic all the time doing it.

— T.E., Medford

We thought we were ready to answer your question until we discovered our expertise on this subject came from Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Where should we derive towing knowledge other than a movie called "The Long, Long Trailer"?

Trailer brakes first. OK, we digress.

An actual expert was in order, so we checked with DMV spokesman David House.

It turns out the answer to your query is yes, you can indeed be cited for driving a trailer in the left lane — or lanes if you're on a multilane road. He was nice enough to cite ORS 811.325 "Failure to keep camper, trailer or truck in right lane."

The law says that any camper, vehicle towing a trailer or commercial truck must travel in the right-most lane on all roadways that have two or more lanes, House said.

But before you start reporting all those semis and boat haulers in Oregon's passing lanes, keep in mind that the law provides some exceptions. They include when vehicles towing trailers are preparing to make a left turn on a roadway, when necessary in response to emergency conditions, when prompted by a traffic control device, and when the vehicle needs to overtake a slower vehicle.

"You're required to use the right lane except when passing," House said. "Otherwise you need to stay in the right lane if it's a multilane road."

With that in mind, we also wanted to know whether trailer towers just need to stay right-ish on roads with three or more lanes, or in the lane farthest right.

"It sounds to me you need to be in the far right lane at all times unless you're passing," House said.

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