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Cop's Corner

It has always been my impression that a solid white line on the right side of a traffic lane means you are not to drive outside that line. Correct? Then why do I see cars drive outside those lines when going north on Crater Lake Highway and turning right onto Poplar Drive? I am always in the proper lane, with a turn signal on, and have almost been broadsided by these people. Help!

Am I in the wrong or are they? - Mary T., Ashland

Sounds like they're in the wrong in the case you lay out (though that spot has an unusually wide bike lane that may be confusing people). Under ORS 811.370, a driver who is operating a vehicle on a roadway divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic must operate the vehicle as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and refrain from moving from that lane until the driver has first made certain that the movement can be made with safety.

Failure to do so is a Class B traffic violation, bail $242. However, what you're describing sounds more like a violation of ORS 811.415, which is called unsafe passing on right. It says a driver is in violation whenever he or she drives a vehicle to overtake and pass on the right at any time not permitted under this section, or by overtaking and passing on the right at any time by driving off the paved portion of the highway.

By your illustration, Mary, we know that they can't pass on the right if they have to leave the pavement, which they aren't doing, or can pass only when permitted. So now we have to find out when passing on the right is permitted to know whether what they are doing is illegal.

Under the exceptions for this statute, overtaking and passing on the right is permitted if:

• The overtaken vehicle is making or has signaled an intention to make a left turn.

• The paved portion of the highway is of sufficient width to allow two or more lanes of vehicles to proceed lawfully in the same direction as the overtaking vehicle.

• The roadway ahead of the overtaking vehicle is unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit passage by the overtaking vehicle to be made in safety.

Overtaking and passing on the right also is permitted if the overtaken vehicle is in the left lane of two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic moving in the same direction as the overtaking driver. Finally, overtaking and passing on the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.

So, when traveling northbound on Highway 62 at Poplar in the right-most lane, any vehicle that passes you on the right has violated the law because, while they don't leave the pavement, the vehicle(s) that they are passing are not turning left. The vehicles they are passing are either going straight ahead or turning right when they get up to the intersecting road (Poplar Drive.) The offense for unsafe passing on the right also is a Class B traffic violation, bail $242