You've got to follow those pesky road rules

This has always been a pet peeve of mine. When a person who is making a turn onto a street which has two lanes in the same direction and to have that person swing wide and take the outside lane or to drive down the middle of the road during their turn and eventually end up in the outside lane seems illegal. But, in some intersections it seems like the only way to drive is to go directly to the outside lane in order to make your turn.

It is my understanding that you must turn into the closest lane and after establishing yourself in the close lane, only then can you move to the outside lane. I can understand that sometimes another close intersection requires you to move to the outside lane very soon to be able to make your next turn. What is the distance required to consider yourself established in a lane? What is the infraction if you immediately go to the outside lane?

— Dan M., Medford

Dan, you aren't the only one with this pet peeve and as a complaint, it ranks in the top three, up there with speeders and those not using their turn signals.

When making a right or left turn onto a street with two or more lanes going in the direction you're turning, then you must turn into the left-most lane when turning left and into the right-most lane when turning right. Violation of this statute is a Class D violation, which is cited at $97.

Two different intersections to use by way of example are located on East McAndrews Road. The first is East McAndrews Road at North Riverside Avenue. Riverside turns into four northbound lanes at that point.

For a driver headed east on McAndrews, toward Biddle Road, and wanting to turn left and go to the Rogue Valley Mall entrance, there is a proper way to make that maneuver. First, you start in the left-most lane, which is the designated left turn lane on McAndrews, turn to the left-most half of the intersection, and then leave the intersection in the left-most lane. Once you are in that left-most lane, then you signal for the minimum required distance of 100 feet and change one lane to the right, then repeat for the remaining lanes. Is there the 400 feet needed to do this correctly before reaching the mall entrance? Yes, there is. So to answer your question Dan, you should be in each lane for at least 100 feet so you can properly signal a lane change or turn.

The next intersection is just down McAndrews at Biddle Road. Again, you're driving east, wanting to make a left turn and then turn immediately into the parking lot at Toys-R-Us. The proper method would be just like stated above, turning into the leftmost lane and signaling 100 feet before each lane change. Do you have the required 300 feet to do this? In this case, no, you don't. So am I going to cite someone for that? No, because I'm not going to cite someone for doing something that they physically can't do due to the configuration of the roadway. But this example is the exception, in most instances, drivers can make the proper turn into the proper lane, they just don't choose to do so correctly.

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 e-mail

Share This Story