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No need to yield on Fourth Street until changing lanes

I have a question concerning the right of way at a certain traffic intersection in Medford. Every morning I have to drive east on Fourth Street crossing over Riverside Avenue onto East Jackson Street. When Fourth Street traffic has the green light to cross over Riverside heading east, there is confusion by drivers as to who has the right of way. Cars coming from Riverside veering right onto Fourth Street/East Jackson rarely stop or yield to the traffic coming from Fourth Street, even though they have a red light. These cars "fly" onto Fourth Street, causing near collisions with the other cars because there is no yield sign to slow them down. Common sense doesn't seem to cause them to drive more cautiously and defensively. I have to switch lanes on Fourth Street so I can get on East Jackson Street. The merging cars drive as if I should be the one to yield to them as they enter my lane. What is the proper driving etiquette/law for this intersection? Does a "Yield" sign need to be placed at the corner of the Riverside intersection for cars wanting to turn east onto Fourth/Jackson/Biddle Roads?

— Jennifer S., Medford

Good question, Jennifer. A yield sign would not be applicable here, because vehicles turning right from Riverside onto Fourth don't have anything to yield to — they have their own lane. And your lane has nothing to yield to either because you have your own lane as well.

The rub comes when drivers from either lane want to change lanes. In this case, you'd treat it like you were on Interstate 5 and had to switch lanes either to the right or left. Then the obligation on both sets of drivers is to make a lawful, signaled lane change. The ORS is 811.375, which says if you change lanes to the right or left then you must do it first with reasonable safety and second by also giving an appropriate signal for at least 100 feet before changing lanes.

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.