New Oregon laws designed to reduce gridlock

| 12/26/2007

A pair of laws scheduled to take effect Tuesday, Jan. 1, in Oregon are intended to help keep traffic moving along the state’s roadways.

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 cited a study by Portland State University. The study found that following a two-vehicle, noninjury crash on Interstate 5 near the Skidmore exit a year ago it took more than one hour to clear the driving lanes and another 30 minutes for traffic flow 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 delays.

The new law 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 will face up to $180 fines.

Another new law 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. At other times, 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.