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Driver on right leads at sign-less intersection

Here are a few items from the mailbag:

Who is at fault if an accident occurs at a four-way intersection if there are no stop or yield signs? I am referring to the intersection of Belmont and Park near South Medford High School. I have had close encounters with students in a hurry for school, but if there are no signs, what happens in the event of an accident? Is this an oversight by the city of Medford? — Dina V.

No, Dina, it's not an oversight. ORS. 811.275 titled "Failure to yield right of way at uncontrolled intersection" covers your question. It states if you are approaching an uncontrolled intersection, in other words one with no stop or yield signs, and do not look out for and give right of way to any driver on the right simultaneously approaching the intersection, regardless of which driver first reaches and enters the intersection, then you are in violation.

It does contain one stipulation that says a driver entering an intersection at an unlawful speed shall forfeit any right of way that driver would otherwise have had under this section. So maybe those hurrying students might be in danger of giving up any right of way that they otherwise would have had should they be in a crash. The violation is a Class B traffic violation, with a fine of $242.

Why is there an almost total disregard for posted speed limits in Medford? It is amazing to observe, particularly in certain areas such as East McAndrews Road approaching Crater Lake Avenue going west, where speeds down the hill are astounding to me. Recently, I was on Jackson Street proceeding at about 27 mph (speed limit 25) when I was passed — only to find that driver waiting at the traffic light when I got there. Is there anything a citizen can do to assist in curtailing this epidemic of rude, highly dangerous conduct? — Paul

There do seem to be a lot of people in a hurry nowadays. Medford Police Department and the Sheriff's Office both have traffic teams that specifically target driving violations, especially speeding, and Medford also has the photo speed enforcement van, so efforts are being made.

As far as what a citizen can do to assist, most violations have to be witnessed by a police officer to be cited. There are procedures to make citizen complaints, however. The areas you referenced are within Medford city limits, so you'd have to contact Medford police to find out their procedure. At a minimum, you'd need to have the violation, the vehicle plate, the location, the date and time of violation and hopefully a good driver description to make most citizen complaints.

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 e-mail cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.