New Oregon laws seek to reduce gridlock

| 7/19/2007

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a pair of bills into law intended to help keep traffic moving along the state’s roadways. The new rules take effect Jan. 1, 2008.

One new law is intended to reduce gridlock caused by vehicles that obstruct traffic flow. It requires drivers to remove their vehicles from traffic lanes after minor wrecks or stalls.

Advocates for the law sighted a study by Portland State University that found a two-vehicle, noninjury crash on Interstate 5 near the Skidmore exit a year ago took more than one hour to clear and another 30 minutes for traffic to return to normal.

The economic cost to other drivers delayed from the minor crash was $150,000, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

Supporters also cite that crashes and stalls account for nearly 25 percent of all congestion delay.

The new law, previously HB2936, mandates that drivers remove their vehicles from traffic lanes, as long as the vehicles are still drivable and no serious injuries were suffered. Vehicles can be moved to parking areas or safe places nearby.

Violators would face up to $180 in fines.

Another new law, previously SB567, targets stalled or abandoned vehicles on freeways. Existing Oregon law authorizes the state Transportation Department to immediately tow vehicles left on freeway shoulders during rush hours. Otherwise, red tags must first be affixed on vehicles giving owners 24 hours’ notice.

The new rule gives ODOT authority to have vehicles towed off the freeway at any time.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Oregon in 2007, click here.