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The state highway is not a good place to deposit snow from your driveway. In fact, it’s against the law to deposit any object onto Oregon highways and highway right of way, including snow.
Placing driveway snow on the road or shoulder creates a hazard for other highway users and for our snowplow operators. Chunks of snow and ice form an uneven road surface that can surprise drivers and cause crashes.
When snowplows create berms of snow at the end of driveways, we ask property owners to help by shoveling that snow to the sides of their driveways, rather than back onto the road or shoulder.
If you shovel snow onto the roadway, you will be asked to clear it away. Or we may remove the snow and bill you for the cost of doing so. In addition, you may be cited under Oregon law; violations are punishable as a misdemeanor.
With a few precautions, bicycling in the winter offers the same benefits as fair-weather cycling, such as saving gas money, reducing highway damage (and therefore costs!), and using one less car parking space. Bicycling is also good for your health and great for the environment! Here are some tips to make your winter bicycle commuting safe and successful:
Wear the right clothes, including:
Use the right equipment, such as:
This information is provided by Commute Options, located in Bend. Commute Options promotes active transportation including walking, bicycling, carpooling, vanpooling, telecommuting and transit. Learn more at commuteoptions.org.
Know before you go!
For up-to-date travel conditions, visit TripCheck, ODOT's mobile-friendly travel information website. The site features:
TripCheck information is also available via Twitter. Visit www.TripCheck.com and click on the Twitter page to learn more. Use TripCheck TV to create a custom display of road condition information and camera images.
Travelers in Oregon can dial 511 to access the same immediate road and weather information available on TripCheck. (Note: 511 does not have access to Waze data.)
To report road hazards (trees down, electric wires across the road, road blocked by mud or rocks, etc.) call the nearest ODOT dispatch center.
Permits Required November 1 - April 30
Parking in an Oregon Sno-Park without a permit may result in a $30 fine.
Sno-Park permits are sold at all DMV offices and by permit agents at many sporting goods stores, winter resorts and other outlets. These sales agents may charge an additional service fee for each permit they sell. For a list of Sno-Park permit vendors, visit the DMV website.
Annual permits are also available to purchase online at www.oregondmv.com/dmv2u. If you buy an annual permit online, a printable interim permit will be email to you immediately. The interim permit may be used for up to 14 days intil you receive the annual permit in the mail.
Sno-Park permits issued in California and Idaho are honored in Oregon, and Oregon permits (except for interim annual permists) are honored in those states.
It's illegal to pass a snowplow on the right on state highways. On most Oregon highways, snowplows have “wing” plows that stick out more than eight feet from the right front edge of the truck. The snow being plowed or blown off the road can contain rocks and other debris that can damage vehicles.
Drivers who try to pass on the right when a snowplow is in operation run the risk of damaging their vehicles, hitting the snowplow or running off the road and into a snow bank or guardrail.
Drivers should give winter maintenance vehicles such as plows and sanders a wide berth. They do not travel at high speeds and other vehicles quickly overtake them. Plows and sanding trucks pull over periodically to let traffic pass. The best advice is to stay at least three car lengths behind and give yourself more time to get where you are going.
Alternatives to Driving a Car
Oregonians have options when it comes to travel. We have bus service in all the major metropolitan areas, and even in some of our smaller communities. Throughout the state, regional bus services offer connections
Here are some options:
It's a lot easier to put chains on for the first time when you don't have to struggle to read the instructions alongside a snowy road. Practice installing your chains at home when the weather is fair. Then when road conditions require chains, you'll already know how to use them.
Video: How to put chains on
Oregon chain law
Map of chain-up areas
Other traction tires
When you see a "Snow Zone" sign as you drive Oregon's highways, pay special attention! These signs provide valuable information during winter months. Snow Zone signs let you know about the current requirements for using chains and traction tires. In very bad winter conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used. A conditional road closure may occur on any of Oregon's highways.
Visit www.TripCheck.com, Oregon's travel information website, for up-to-the-minute road conditions and more information on Oregon's chain law and chain requirements. You can also get the latest in road conditions by calling 511.
Bridges and overpasses are the most dangerous parts of the road in the winter. They are the first to freeze and the last to thaw because they’re built of concrete, which doesn’t retain as much heat as other materials. Be safe while driving on icy roads by remembering the following:
Black ice, also called glare ice or clear ice, is a thin layer of ice on the roadway. Any ice is dangerous to drive on, but black ice is particularly hazardous because the road looks wet, not icy. Black ice isn’t really black; it’s so thin and transparent that the darker pavement shows through. It often has a matte appearance rather than the expected gloss.
Ordinary snow tires are designed for snow, not ice. The most helpful device for gaining traction on ice is tire chains. But even with chains, stopping distance is still several times greater than on dry pavement with ordinary tires.
Black ice is most common at night and very early in the morning, when temperatures are typically their lowest. It is usually thin enough that it melts soon after sunlight hits it, but it can last much longer on shaded areas of roadways. The ground cools more slowly than the air and warms back more slowly as well, so even if the air temperature is above freezing, the roadway may still be frozen. This discrepancy between temperatures can lull drivers into a false sense of security.
Driving at night is more difficult because visibility is reduced. However, low visibility conditions often occur during the day, caused by heavy snowfall, downpours, thick fog and blowing dust or smoke.
Turn on your low-beam headlights during the daytime in the winter months to make your vehicle more visible to other drivers, people on bikes and pedestrians. When natural light is low — at dawn or dusk or when it’s raining, cloudy or snowing — you can improve your vehicle’s visibility significantly. Remember to keep your car headlights clean. Get in the habit of wiping off your lights at the gas station. That way you're ready for low-visibility conditions.
Tests conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers determined that with headlights off, drivers can see oncoming cars when they are an average of 2,074 feet away. With headlights on, that distance more than doubles to an average of 4,720 feet.
When you are driving in fog, slow down to adjust to the reduced visibility. In the most severe situations, a Dense Fog Advisory will be issued if visibility is reduced to less than one-quarter mile. Follow these safety tips when driving in Fog:
If you approach an intersection with signal lights either flashing or out, it’s important to follow basic rules to keep yourself and other drivers safe:
Be alert at railroad crossings. Power outages also can also affect railroad crossings. Railroad crossing signals have built-in backup battery power and should continue to operate for a short time during power outages. During a long-term power outage or other problem, railroad-crossing arms will automatically move to the “down” position. Railroad companies have standard procedures for these situations. Never drive around railroad-crossing arms in the down position. A train may be coming.
Use your headlights for tunnels and bridges. It may be more difficult to see tunnel entrances and bridge approaches if there is a power outage. Use your headlights whenever there is reduced visibility and use caution.
When weather is at its worst, our statewide Winter Level of Service Plan goes into effect. It establishes anti-icing/de-incing, sanding and plowing priorities for state highways. Priorities are based on safety, the relative amounts of traffic carried and the anticipated impact to commerce and industry.
There are five Statewide Levels of Service. Highways tagged for high-volume priority service are plowed first; medium and low-volume highways are handled as soon as possible thereafter.
When winter weather hits, we'll be on the job. But remember: our goal is to keep roads passable, not completely free of ice and snow. During a one day storm, crews may use approximately 600 trucks full of sand and 150 trucks of de-icer.
Clean up operations begin as bad weather clears. It normally takes 4-8 weeks to remove all the sanding material that was placed on the road.
Sand provides significantly improved traction on the roads in both snow and ice. But it spreads everywhere and can be found along the road surfaces and shoulders once the snow and ice are gone.
Practices may vary
Our winter maintenance practices may not reflect the practices used on county or city roadways. Contact your city or county for that information.
Navigation systems and similar smartphone apps are great tools, but you may need to verify the identified detour route to make sure it's appropriate given current conditions and the vehicle you are driving.
Most navigation tools don't take current road or weather conditions into consideration. They may direct you onto remote roads that are neither maintained or passible in all weather conditions. Because of this, here are a few tips to consider:
What you can do:
Winter weather conditions can make driving dangerous for anyone, but when you are driving a 70-foot long vehicle weighing as much as 105,500 pounds, slick roads and low visibility can be especially challenging. An average of 100 truck-involved crashes resulting in an injury or fatality occur in snowy or icy conditions in Oregon each year. The ODOT Commerce and Compliance Division offers advice and resources, including a short video, to help drivers prepare for winter driving in Oregon.
The Oregon legislature raised the fine for trucks failing to use chains to $880, effective Sept. 25, 2021.
Landslides are large masses of unstable rock, soil and debris that move down sloped areas. More common are pop outs, smaller quantities of rock, soil and debris that may be a few dozen to a few hundred yards. Landslides and pop outs can be triggered by heavy rain, ongoing erosion, earthquakes or human activity. When there's a landslide on a highway, there may be pavement damage, closed roads, or detours. Landslide cleanup may take some time, especially if the slide is still moving.
ODOT monitors dozens of active landslide areas throughout the state. We use tools to help slow them down, such as clearing ditches and installing pipes and culverts to help drainage during heavy rains, stabilizing the soil with stone columns to pin soil layers together — think of a toothpick holding together a tall sandwich — and installing walls or fences to help hold landslides back from the highway.
Here are some tips to consider:
Some snow-seekers heading to winter recreation areas via state highways find designated parking areas filled and then create safety issues by parking on roadsides.
This parking creates significant safety hazards when people exit their vehicles and walk across the highway to reach their destination. It's also dangerous for vehicles traveling through the area, for emergency vehicles and for snow plows.
Travelers in winter recreation areas should remember to:
We're seeing the problem on major state highways, including U.S. 26 and OR 35 around Mount Hood and OR 372 (Century Drive, south toward Mount Bachelor). This problem is especially concerning on busy freight corridors.
Under state law, non-emergency parking on state highways, including shoulders, is illegal in areas marked with no parking signs. Violators risk a ticket and a tow.
Parking is allowed in designated areas, such as Sno-Parks. Oregon has about 100 Sno-Park sites dedicated to winter recreation parking. The sites can be found throughout the state in all mountain passes and at most recognized ski, snowmobile and snow play areas.
A list of Oregon's Sno-Parks is available at TripCheck.com under Travel Center.
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