Oregon’s Parking, Stopping, and Standing Laws

no parking, stopping, or standingThe issues of parking, stopping, and standing are united by one common principle in Oregon law.  That common principle is a significant consideration of traffic safety—which prohibits unnecessary stopping, standing or parking so as to impede the free flow of traffic.  This principle is discussed under the provisions of ORS 811.550 to ORS 811.585.

Now, as significant and important as this principle is in Oregon law, there is also an equally important and somewhat competing consideration of traffic safety—which is that none of the provisions of the vehicle code relieves a driver from the duty to exercise due care concerning pedestrians.  This principle is discussed under the provisions of ORS 811.005.

Pedestrian Safety and the Free Flow of Traffic

The discussion in this section will address the challenge of how Oregon courts have sought to strike an appropriate balance between these two competing principles.  One the one hand, the general rule is clear: “A driver may not stop in the road to impede the flow of traffic.”  On the other hand, the various provisions of the Oregon’s vehicle code do not relieve a driver from the duty to exercise due care with respect to the safety of pedestrians.

It is not difficult to understand why there has been a growing concern for pedestrian safety.  According to ODOT, pedestrians account for 10 to 15 percent of traffic fatalities each year.  Over 550 pedestrians were injured and 45 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Oregon in 2004.  By 2012, the data showed that 939 pedestrians were injured and that 60 were killed.

Historically, there has been an exception to the general rule, which is: “If a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, then a driver must stop for that pedestrian in order to exercise their duty of care concerning the safety of pedestrians” [Miller v. Miller, 106 Ore. App.434 (1991)].  A similar position was taken by the court in, Carter v. Mote, 285 Ore. 275 (1979), which decided that: “A pedestrian has the right-of-way only if within the crosswalk.  Otherwise, the motorist has the right-of-way.”  Yet, subsequently, we find a more recent Oregon statute in which that principle has been expanded upon—such as ORS 811.028.

Since January 1, 2006, when ORS 811.028 was passed, Oregon law has held that a driver must “stop and remain stopped” for a pedestrian who is obeying a traffic control device.  Additionally, it is clear that ORS 811.028 also holds that a driver must “stop and remain stopped” for a pedestrian who is: (1) in a crosswalk if the pedestrian is in the driver’s lane, (2) in the adjacent lane, (3) in the lane into which the driver is turning, or (4) within six-feet of the lane into which the driver is turning.

Hence, under the above-cited provisions of ORS 811.028, it is clear that the vitality and relevance of the cases in Miller and Carter have now become legally suspect in light of these statutory changes.  Therefore, in light of ORS 811.028, the specific circumstances that are described in ORS 811.028 should be understood as specific exceptions to the general rule.  Also, vehicle drivers, passengers, or other persons may not open a vehicle door unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interference with the movement of traffic, pedestrians, or bicyclists who are properly positioned on the roadway, shoulder, or sidewalk [ORS 811.490].

No Exceptions for Stop, Stand, and Park

No Exceptions:  Except to avoid conflict with other traffic, to obey a law, police officer, traffic sign or signal, or to momentarily allow traffic to pass before turning, you cannot stop, stand or park your vehicle in these locations: (1) Within an intersection; (2) On the roadway side of any parked vehicle [double-parking]; (3) On a sidewalk or crosswalk; (4) Or within seven and a half-feet of railroad tracks; (5) In a bicycle lane or path; (6) On a bridge or overpass—or between separate roadways of a divided highway; (7) In a tunnel; (8) Any place where official signs or pavement markings prohibit it [ORS 811.550].

Other Locations with No Exceptions:  Additional areas you cannot stand or park a vehicle (except momentarily to pick up or drop off a passenger) include, but are not limited to, these locations: (1) In front of a public or private driveway; (2) Within 10-feet of a fire hydrant; (3) Within 15-feet of the entrance to a fire station on the same side of the street or within 75-feet on the opposite side of the street; (4) Within 20-feet of a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection; (5) Within 50-feet of a flashing signal, stop sign, yield sign, or other traffic control device located on the side of the road, if your vehicle hides the signal from view [ORS 811.550].

The rules about stopping, standing and parking apply whether you are in your vehicle or away from it.  These rules do not apply if your vehicle breaks down and you cannot get it out of the traffic lanes or there is not enough room off the road on the shoulder for you to stop or park.

Exceptions for Stop, Stand, and Park

Exemptions from Prohibitions on Stopping, Standing, or Parking:  Under the provisions of ORS 811.560, there are some limited exemptions for stopping, standing, and parking.  These very limited exemptions include the following:

  1. When a school bus or worker transport bus is stopped to load or unload workers or children;
  2. When vehicles are momentarily stopped, standing or parked in order to either pick up or to discharge a passenger;
  3. When a vehicle is momentarily stopped, standing, or parked for the purpose of loading or unloading property or passengers;
  4. When a state, county, or city vehicle is performing maintenance or repair work on the roadway;
  5. When a driver disregards prohibitions in a situation where it is necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic;
  6. When a driver takes action in compliance with law or at the direction of either a police officer or traffic control device;
  7. When a vehicle becomes disabled and the driver cannot avoid stopping or temporarily leaving the disabled vehicle;
  8. When a vehicle is momentarily stopped to allow oncoming traffic to pass before making a right-hand or left-hand turn.

Proper Parking Policies

Parking on Hills:  Always set your parking brake.  Leave your vehicle in gear if it has a manual transmission or in “park” for an automatic transmission.  To prevent your vehicle from rolling downhill in case the brake fails while your vehicle is parked; turn your wheels in the proper direction:

  1. Downhill against a curb— Turn your wheels inward, toward the curb;
  2. Uphill against a curb— Turn your wheels outward, toward the travel lane;
  3. No curb— Turn your wheels inward toward the edge of the road.

Parallel Parking:  You should park in the direction that vehicles are moving in the lane.  You should park parallel to and within 12-inches of the curb.  If there is no curb, then park as close as possible to the edge of the shoulder.  Your wheels must be within marked spaces.

Angle Parking:  This type of parking is common in parking lots, shopping centers, and wide streets.  A courteous driver never parks too close to another vehicle.  Parking too close could result in damage to your vehicle.

Emergency Parking: If your vehicle has broken down and you have no choice, then you might have to temporarily stop or park your vehicle in areas where it usually is not allowed—as long as doing so does not create a hazard.  If you must stop or pull off the road, use the 4-way flashers.  This will help warn other drivers of the hazard.  If necessary, you may park a vehicle on the shoulder of a highway—but only if passing traffic has enough room to get by and if your vehicle can be seen from 200-feet in each direction.  If it cannot be seen from 200-feet in each direction, then you need to warn approaching traffic.  This can be done with a flagger, flag, flare, sign, or signal placed at least 200-feet in each direction from your vehicle.

Unattended Vehicles:  If you have an emergency and must leave your vehicle unattended on a highway, then you should turn off the engine, lock the ignition, remove the key, firmly set the brakes, and turn on your emergency flashers.  If a police officer finds a vehicle parked in an area where it is not allowed—or if it creates a hazard—the officer may have it removed.  The officer may also require you—or the person in charge—to move it to a legal stopped or parked position.  If you abandon a vehicle on the highway, it is very likely that the police may have it removed and you will become responsible for both towing and storage costs.  In addition, you also may get a ticket for abandoning a vehicle.

NOTE: Under the provisions of ORS 811.585, a driver commits the offense of failure to secure a motor vehicle if the person permits the vehicle to stand unattended on a highway without first doing all of the following: (1) stopping the engine; (2) turning the front wheels to the sub or side of the highway when standing upon any grade; (3) locking the ignition; (4) removing the key from the ignition; and (5) effectively setting the brake on the vehicle.

Persons with Disabilities

Parking Spaces for Persons with Disabilities:  Oregon issues special parking permits to persons with disabilities or groups that transport people with disabilities.

To Qualify for a Permit:  You must have a drivers’ license or identification card—and the signature of a medical professional—to apply for a disabled parking permit.

“Wheelchair User Only”:  In addition, Oregon also issues a wheelchair disabled parking placard or decal to persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs or similar low-powered motorized devices.  These placards or decals allow the user to park in “Wheelchair User Only” parking spaces.  Traditional disabled parking permits are not valid in these spaces.  Only vehicles that display these permits may park in specially designated parking spaces for persons with disabilities.  This rule applies on both public streets and private property—such as shopping center parking lots.

What is legal or illegal?  In light of these rules, it is illegal to do any of the following:

  1. Even if you park for only a few minutes in a space marked for the use of persons with disabilities, then it is illegal because you have not displayed the required parking permit.
  2. It is illegal to use a disabled parking permit when you are not entitled to the permit, or use an invalid disabled parking permit.  This includes using a permit that has been altered, photocopied, reproduced, mutilated, reported lost or stolen, or is not clearly visible.
  3. It is illegal to park on the diagonal stripes next to a disabled person’s parking space because people with disabilities use this access area to enter and exit their vehicles.
  4. It is illegal to block a disabled parking space or access area next to a disabled parking space with either a vehicle or an object.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Thorne CC cc