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Use the right lane when other drivers are speeding

I just read your answer regarding moving to the right for slow vehicles. I have a few questions: You mention that a driver is in the wrong if he fails to pull over to the right if he is not traveling at the normal speed of traffic. Does that mean if the posted speed is, say 65, and the speed of traffic is 75, which is exceeding the speed limit, he still has to pull over to the right? You also say that slow drivers have to pull over to the right lane, but I don't believe they are required to move into the break-down lane or emergency lane. If slow drivers are in both the left and right lane and there is a wide emergency or break-down lane, is it legal to pass in this emergency or break-down lane?

— Darrel

All right, Darrel, a bunch of stuff to address here, so I'll make it a two-article response. Regarding your question on the normal speed of traffic, let me quote some selected passages on freeway driving from the DMV Driver's Manual:

"Try to keep pace with traffic on the road, but do not be lured into exceeding the posted speed to stay with the flow of traffic. A slowpoke on a freeway can be as dangerous as a speeder. Remember, if you drive at a speed below the flow of traffic, you must use the right lane. Freeways often have several lanes in each direction. On these roads, you should leave the extreme left lane for faster traffic. If you are traveling in the left lane and someone comes up behind you at a faster speed, move one lane to your right. Do not tie up traffic in the left lane."

So, DMV is not advocating driving faster than the posted speed limit but seems to recognize that people do drive faster than the posted limit.

This passage seems to say to me that going the speed limit in the left lane is not a defense for blocking traffic that wants to go faster, even if that speed is over the posted limit.

There has been discussion in this column before about whether impeding traffic would be the appropriate citation, as some jurisdictions don't feel you can impede if traveling the posted speed limit.

My take is that the appropriate citation would be failure to obey a traffic control device — that being the black and white sign that says "Slower traffic drive right."

As you can see from the second to the last sentence I quoted from DMV, if you're the slower vehicle, even while traveling the speed limit, then you're in violation, as would be the speeder.

Then the officer can choose which violation he wants to pursue.

I'll address single-lane roads in the next article.

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.