Rules of passing on right, left-hand turns on red

I don't believe this is true, but my friend told me that while traveling on a multi-lane highway it is illegal for the car in the right lane to exceed the speed of a driver in the lane to the left, keeping in mind that I am not exceeding the speed limit. Who's right? I look forward to your response.

— Julie B.

You are, Julie. There is no law that prohibits passing on the right on a multi-lane highway, especially if you're not exceeding the speed limit. In fact, there are those of us who would argue that the vehicle you're passing is "slower traffic" and, as the black-and-white sign says, should be driving to the right.

In one of your recent Tribune columns you mentioned that a person could turn left on a red light when turning onto a one-way street. I thought I remembered from the driving-test manual that could happen only if you were on a one-way street and turning onto a one-way street.

I was recently on Ohio Street (near the mall), which is a two-lane, two-way street, and wanted to make a left turn onto Court. The person in front of me also was making that turn. After he checked for cars coming from the right, he made a left turn (from the right lane) with the red light onto Court.

I thought I remembered that you had to be in the far left lane on a one-way street to make a left turn with a red signal onto another one-way street. Which left turn on a red light is correct — from a one-way to a one-way or from a two-way to a one-way?

— Pat S.

These turning questions just won't go away. Apparently there's a lot of confusion out there on what's right and what's wrong.

Once again, the man who turned left in front of you was doing so legally. Both the turns you're asking about are allowed.

You can turn from a two-way street onto a one-way street or from a one-way street onto a one-way street.

Remember that the determining factor is that the road you're turning onto has to be a one-way street; it doesn't matter which type of road you're turning from.

But be mindful you can't make left turns onto a two-way street on a red light.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly 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 email

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