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Trucks don't have to use far-right lanes on those long uphill climbs

Are truckers required to use the lane to the right of the fog line when moving slowly up grades such as Siskiyou and Sexton passes on Interstate 5? Traffic is constantly stalled because of slow trucks using the left lane to pass barely slower trucks in the right lane while the wide shoulder lane goes unused. Is this the result of a lack of courtesy on the truck drivers' parts, trucking company policy or what?

— Tom P., Medford.

You've asked a question from a situation that most of us encounter, the slow truck passing the even slower truck on freeway uphill grades. And it always seems like they do it right in front of you when you're coming up behind them with no one behind you for as far as the eye can see, whereas waiting another five seconds would have let you by and then they would have had the road to themselves to start passing. Or is that just me it seems to happen to?

Anyway, I digress. The answer to your question is both yes and no. ORS 811.315, called "Failure of slow driver to drive on right," says a person commits the offense if the person is operating a vehicle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place — and under the existing conditions — and the person fails to drive in the right-hand lane available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

This section does not apply when the vehicle is overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or preparing to turn left at an intersection, alley or private road or driveway.

So, slower drivers are required to move at least into the right-hand lane, but I don't believe they are required to move into the break-down lane or emergency lane, whichever you'd like to call it.

When they do, I think that they are doing this as a courtesy to other drivers. There is the possibility that those who don't move into the emergency lane are following company policy, but you'd have to survey a few trucking companies to get an answer for that.

Dace Cochran is a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. Email a question to cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.