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Turn wheels to curb on hill; how to merge onto freeway

What is the law, in Medford, regarding curbing a car's wheels on hills? I walk in the areas of Cedar Links and Gene Cameron and almost no cars have their wheels turned into the curbs. Also, please address what the word "merge" means when coming onto the freeway from an on-ramp. Most on-ramp drivers think it is the responsibility of the freeway traffic to move over for them instead of safely flowing into traffic.

— Jim Bailey, Medford

ORS 811.585 defines failing to secure a motor vehicle. It states that a person parking a vehicle must do all of the following:

  • Stop the engine.
  • Turn the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway when standing upon any grade (hill).
  • Lock the ignition.
  • Remove the key from the ignition.
  • Set the brake on the vehicle.

Failing to do all of the above, described as failure to secure a motor vehicle, is a Class D traffic violation, and the bail would be $97.

So, as you can see under the second bullet point, vehicles parked on grades should be parked with their wheels to the curb or grade.

As for merging drivers, I've done a number of articles on this, but to quickly review, ORS 811.285 says there is a violation if a person is operating a vehicle that is entering a freeway or other arterial highway where an acceleration or merging lane is provided for the operator's use and the operator does not look out for and give right of way to vehicles on the freeway or other arterial highway. Breaking this law is a Class B traffic violation, and the bail is $242. By the way, the Oregon Driver's Manual reads "If you are entering a freeway from a merging lane, you must yield to traffic already on the freeway. If you already are on the freeway, you are obligated to help merging traffic. Adjust your speed to permit a safe, smooth merge."

So, while traffic on the freeway must try to help accommodate merging drivers, the onus is still on those drivers merging to yield the right of way.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly 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 e-mail cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.