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Color of road signage sends a message

According to Oregon law, a single, solid white line allows lane changes, with caution. The Medford viaduct has such a line, but the signs just before starting that section state: "No lane changes." So, is it legal to change lanes on that section of Interstate 5? And why can't they be more clear about whether lane changes are not allowed by using a double line? 

— Daniel W., Ashland

We've often wondered about that too, Daniel. For fear of getting a ticket, the folks at Since You Asked are deathly afraid of crossing over that solid line, though we've seen many motorists veer over without any compunction.

We're going to take a bit of a deep dive into the signs along the Interstate 5 corridor and learn something that you and our team maybe never knew before.

Gary Leaming, our local spokesman for ODOT, said the color of the warning sign is the key to understanding the rules of the road.

In this case, the sign you're referring to is black on yellow, which is an advisory sign. It's telling motorists it's not a good idea to change lanes, but it's OK if necessary — but proceed with caution.

If it's against the law to make the lane change, the text would be black against a white background.

Because the viaduct has a single, solid line with a black-against-yellow sign, it's not against the law to change lanes.

So, if you do decide to cross that line, Daniel, have a good reason to do so — and be on the lookout for other vehicles.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.