Tag Archives: gore

Gore is OK for yielding to emergency vehicles

The in basket: Norm Jochem, a neighbor of mine, said he was coming coming south on Highway 3 at the Bremerton sewer plant where Highway 304 merges when a police car with its lights flashing but no siren approached him from behind. He was in that stretch where Highway 3 narrows to a single lane, and he had nowhere to go except into the gore area on his right. So that’s where he went and the police car continued on past him.

He wondered if he chose the correct one of two normally illegal things, driving into the gore or staying in the police car’s way.

I asked Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here and also whether it mattered if the driver had continued in motion while the cop passed, rather than coming to a stop?

The out basket: “It is appropriate to yield to the right for an emergency vehicle even if he had to enter the gore area,” Russ replied. “The law says move to shoulder and stop but we know this doesn’t always occur. The objective is to allow the emergency to quickly and safely pass. If vehicles cannot come to a full stop, we do not worry about that as long as the driver has recognized the need to yield and is making the movement.

Crossing the “gore” can cost you $411


The in basket: Years ago, before I began writing Road Warrior, I used to cut across the white tapering lines, called gore lines, that converge as one enters a freeway on an on-ramp. I never was stopped, and I didn’t know it was  illegal until research for the column after its 1996 inception set me straight. 

I have since reported its illegality numerous times, saying it’s considered driving off the roadway. 

Early in March, Q13 television mentioned it in its morning newscast, but it said the penalty is $411. Most infractions carry a $124 fine. I asked if Q13 was correct.

The out basket: Yes, says Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the state patrol office in Bremerton. It’s considered crossing a physical barrier, and is penalized under the following state law, RCW 46.61.150, driving on divided highways:  

“Whenever any highway has been divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or clearly indicated dividing section or by a median island not less than eighteen inches wide formed either by solid yellow pavement markings or by a yellow crosshatching between two solid yellow lines … every vehicle shall be driven only upon the right-hand roadway unless directed to use another roadway by official traffic-control devices or police officers.” 

I might have known that would be the relevant law. This is not the first instance in which it has been interpreted to mean the opposite of what the words say. 

As odd as it seems for a painted stripe to be deemed a physical barrier, it’s no odder than interpreting the same law to mean the area between double yellow lines is not an “intervening space.” 

That long-time interpretation allows drivers to turn left across double yellow lines. It’s lucky it does or tens of thousands of Washington state drivers wouldn’t be able legally to turn into their own driveways. But despite the seemingly contrary meaning of the words, the law remains unchanged.

Krista says it’s the width of the gore lines that make them a physical barrier. They are wider than other painted stripes. It still seems to me that a physical barrier really should have greater height than a painted line does.

In the real world, a trooper can opt for the $411 physical barrier ticket, or a $124 citation for unsafe lane change or improper lane travel, she said. She has written it both ways, and on occasion simply warned a driver who has done it. 

It often depends on how heavy traffic is, whether other drivers were endangered or the driver has been stopped for it before, she said.

She also said that turning left across the areas designated in the law, with cross-hatching or a solid 18-inch painted area, also carry the $411 penalty.

Remember this whenever you enter or leave a freeway, or in the daily backup on southbound Highway 3 in Bremerton, where drivers entering from Loxie Eagans Boulevard regularly cross the gore line to get to an opening in the backup  in the through lanes.

I also asked about the cross-hatching at the inside of the Highway 166 roundabout in Port Orchard, where wear shows that many drivers encroach into it. That would be a lane travel violation ($124) if a ticket were written,  since the crosshatching doesn’t separate lanes, Krista said.

Driving across the “gore” is illegal

The in basket: Gary Crehan writes, “My friends and I have been trying to figure this one out. On approaching some exits, the freeway is painted with white lines that end up showing the division of the exit lane from the freeway traffic lane.
As one gets closer to the actual exit, these two lanes diverge forming (usually) a V and having what would be like an island in the middle, some quite wide, (where) I have seen motorists, construction trucks, city vehicles, and police vehicles occasionally parked between the lines essentially between the freeway traffic, and the exit lane traffic.
“Is it legal to even cross these lines? I know I have come upon my exit rather quickly and not having paid enough attention, have crossed this painted area to make my exit.
“I cannot find any place that tells me that these lines are anything more that a way to provide guidance and information. We have looked in the drivers manual, and in the rules of the road and cannot find any information. I think there is even a name for these V-shaped areas that occur on different parts of the highways. Can you tell us anything more about these?”
The out basket: Yes, those areas are called “gores,” and whether their use as driving surfaces is legal most often involves crossing them while ENTERING a freeway, often to get around a car not traveling fast enough for the driver doing it.
It isn’t legal to drive across them, so Gary committed an infraction when he did it, as do those who cross them when entering a freeway. That’s a $124 infraction called driving off the roadway.
Gores are equivalent to shoulders, except that you can’t legally stop in them except in an emergency. Missing one’s exit might seem like an emergency, but I doubt that it would qualify if a patrolman saw one do it.
Shoulders can also be used to stop to read a map, use a cell phone, deal with children or any of the other things that make freeway driving more dangerous if done while in motion.
Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol detachment said doing those things in the gore would constitute illegal parking and be punishable by a $20 fine. But its enforcement is so rare she had to look it up and found it in RCW 46.61.570