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The Roadway


Roadway Features

When people get older or if they have an injury, making a common movement like a left turn at an intersection becomes more difficult. It is important to understand your own limits and to remember that other drivers’ abilities are different than yours.

This table describes left-turn traffic signals and what they mean:

Signal: Means:
Green/Red Left Arrow Protected left turn
Flashing Yellow Left Arrow Yield to oncoming traffic
Flashing Yellow Circle Be careful & watch out for crossing traffic
When making a left turn across oncoming traffic, remember that you can’t always see motorcycles, bicycles or pedestrians on the other side of cars coming toward you. If you start your left turn too quickly after a car passes, you may find one of these in your path and not have time to stop. Here is a short video that shows this situation.
If you don’t feel comfortable making a left turn, you can often avoid them by going a block further and making three right turns around the block.
A roundabout is an unsignaled, circular intersection made to improve safety and reduce traffic delay. While roundabouts help get rid of some safety problems, they can be confusing if you’re not familiar with them. ODOT has a Web page on roundabouts with information, including a photo gallery and video clips.
Countdown Pedestrian Traffic Signals
Countdown pedestrian traffic signals improve the safety of walkers by reducing the number of people stranded in the crosswalk when the light changes. The display shows the number of seconds left to cross the street. Walking speed and crossing distance determine the countdown time. For instance, an 8-lane highway would have a longer countdown time than a 4-lane road. Once the countdown starts, a person should not start crossing the road. Drivers must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Rural Driving

Gravel Roadways
You will see gravel roads in Oregon’s rural and logging areas. Stopping or turning on loose gravel is difficult because of reduced tire traction. A “washboard” effect can also happen on gravel roads. This is a series of potholes that can affect steering and vehicle control, and can literally shake up the vehicle and its riders.
When driving on gravel, you should slow down since it will take much longer to stop and it is easier to skid and slide when turning and slowing down. When the road is dry, gravel roads are dusty, reducing visibility. 
Unsignaled Intersections
Intersections without a traffic light create problems for drivers. Vehicles that are stopping or slowing to turn create differences in speed that are often hard for drivers to judge. When entering an unsignaled intersection you should slow down, yield, and look both ways before continuing. Be sure to know who goes first, yield to all pedestrians, and give way to emergency vehicles.
Slow-Moving Vehicles
It is common to find slow-moving vehicles on rural roads, such as farm and road maintenance equipment. You should identify these vehicles early and slow down when coming near them. Slow-moving equipment make wide turns. Some vehicles may be wider than the lane or road itself. Make sure the driver of the slow-moving vehicle can see your vehicle before passing, and always be careful when they are near.
Be alert for bicyclists who often use rural roads. Bicycles are narrower than cars and harder to see. Be careful when passing them and avoid spraying them with road debris. Bicyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic and wear clothing that is visible at night and during the day.
Narrow Bridges
It is not uncommon in Oregon to find narrow or even single-lane bridges. Be careful and only cross when there is no oncoming traffic, or if the approaching vehicle has stopped and is waiting for you to cross. Do not assume there is room for two vehicles or that you automatically have the right-of-way.
Domesticated Animals
You may find cattle, horses and other domesticated animals while traveling on rural roads. Give them plenty of room and be patient as their handlers guide them across the road. Do not spook them by honking or yelling. This will usually make matters worse.
Drivers are at greatest risk for wildlife crashes at sunrise and sunset. Deer are the highest cause of animal-related vehicle crashes. October and November are the top months for deer crashes. If you see an animal, slow down and prepare to stop. If there is not time to stop or avoid the animal, do not swerve sharply. A driver’s chance of getting seriously hurt is smaller if they hit the animal and avoid swerving into oncoming traffic or rolling the vehicle over into a ditch or waterway. Remember that deer travel in groups, so always look for more animals when you spot one.

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