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

6 thoughts on “Driving across the “gore” is illegal

  1. Travis –

    You may want to review RCW 47.52.120 with your State Patrol contact.
    (1) After the opening of any limited access highway facility, it shall be unlawful for any person to: (a) Drive a vehicle over, upon, or across any curb, central dividing section, or other separation or dividing line on limited access facilities
    (3) Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon arrest and conviction therefor shall be punished by a fine of not less than five dollars nor more than one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the city or county jail for not less than five days nor more than ninety days, or by both fine and imprisonment.

  2. So if Gores are an equivalent to shoulders it says in the Drivers Ed Manuel that you may pass a vehicle on the shoulder as long as you remain on the concrete and do not go into the dirt. I am thinking of the traffic control lanes that are by the sewer plant in Bremerton, to my knowledge they are legal to pass on like another lane. Can you clarify this a little bit more with your contacts. Also I got an infraction for crossing a “gore point” upon taking it to court the Judge had not even heard if this and neither did a lawyer in the courtroom. Needless to say he looked it up and could not find an RCW that covers this. Case dismissed in my case. So please help the confused people with this.

  3. Though Mike Cain offers a law or two in defense of his position, he faces citations if he either drives on the shoulder outside the white edge line or crosses the “gore” lines where Highways 3 and 304 merge just west of Bremerton.
    There is nothing in the state driver’s guide that says passing on right is OK as long as you don’t leave the pavement. On any road or highway with an edge line, driving outside it is illegal except in unusual circumstances such as an obstacle blocking the travel lanes, or being directed to by an officer or flagger.
    Any road without edge lines probably will be too narrow to pass on the right and stay on the asphalt.
    And as a later Road Warrior column (March 17, 2010) reports, despite the great length of the “gore” where highways 3 and 308 merge, it is not exempt from earning you a citation, with the possible penalty of $411, if you cross it to change lanes.

  4. As regards Mark Voth’s comment above, Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the state patrol says about RCW 47.52.120
    “Yes, it is a criminal traffic citation, which is a misdemeanor. This one is a little hard to read and understand the wording in the RCW. Basically, this law does not apply to gore points or lane travel violations. It involves driving across a physical divider such as a grassy median (like the ones separating north and southbound SR3) or crossing an easement or separation which divides limited access highways/facilities.”

  5. I am in Arizona. Two weeks ago a State trooper gave me a Gore Point Ticket. I was Merging into Traffic on I-10 going to the 101 North. I have worked nights in a Sweeper cleaning the highways all across the Phoenix Metro Area. Up and Down both sides of the highways. In and Out of the Gore points for years. I never heard of the Law until now. It is a $170.00 Ticket. is there Anything I can use as a Defense?

    1. Go to court and plead your case. It usually reduces the amount of the fine if it doesn’t get the ticket dismissed. But you’ll probably have to choose up front between seeking a reduction (they call that “yeah,but” court in which you concede you did it but think the penalty is too much) or a dismissal, which often maintains the amount of the fine if unsuccessful.

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