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Turning into closest lane is safer for drivers

A pet peeve of mine about Oregon traffic rules is the requirement to turn into the closest lane and then signal to move over. To the best of my knowledge, the other states where I have lived sensibly permitted turning into any available lane. I concede the benefit of the Oregon rule provided everyone obeys the law and that everyone's vehicle is small enough to turn that tightly.

Invariably, when I turn into the proper inside lane, the impatient driver in the car behind me turns into the far lane and blocks my signaled lane change. In my opinion, being passed on the right by impatient drivers is more hazardous than turning into any available lane. Is there any way to ask for rule review and change through the departments and agencies or is my state representative the only option?

— Jim D.

Let's talk about possible reasons for the law, Jim, and then I'll throw in a personal opinion, followed by how to change things.

If two lanes are turning, then the driver on the outside of the turn doesn't need to fear the driver on the inside of the turn will drift into his lane. Such would be the case at Highway 62 and Delta Waters when turning left to head toward Costco/Walmart.

What you're probably talking about is a single lane turning into two or more available lanes. How about Center Drive turning left from either side of West Stewart Avenue? Or any left turn from any leg at the intersection of West Main Street and Columbus Avenue? If the car turning left was allowed to turn into the far lane, what would that do for the person legally allowed to turn right on a red light after stopping? That any-lane turning driver would be turning right into the lane of the poor fellow making the right-hand turn.

As for the opinion portion of this column, I've been the first car with the impatient driver behind me, and I've been the impatient driver behind someone taking five minutes to complete a turn. As the first in line with an impatient driver behind me, given that I've got at least a two-car-length head start when the light turns green, there's not too many drivers who swoop into the right-most lane ahead of me, especially if I immediately activate my turn signal showing I'm going to be moving to the right lane.

Personally, I think that formula ought to work for just about anyone, unless you are intentionally trying to delay the person behind you, and you don't have to race to do it, just be prompt and decisive making your turn. That said, if this or any law doesn't sit well with you, then your state representative is an option. Another option is to go to a public forum, such as Jackson County's Traffic Safety Committee. They still meet the second Friday of every month at 9:30 a.m. at the County Roads Office on Antelope Road.

Dace Cochran is a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.