Talk about a bum steer.
Several members of the motoring public admonished Action Line for providing incorrect guidance in last week’s column.
Normally, Action Line admits his blunders briefly in the Mea Culpa Mailbag. But this week requires some in-depth coverage. Not that Action Line is ever in-depth.
At issue was the word “roadway.”
Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
On Monday, Action Line advised drivers to be nice and pull over onto the shoulder of U.S. Highway 550 north when making right turns.
Justifying that was a section from the Colorado Revised Statues stating: “Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”
Ah, there’s that magic phrase: “edge of the roadway.” This sent several readers over the edge.
The most vociferous of critics, Weston Smith, objected to Action Line’s “flippant response” and demanded an “immediate retraction on the front page.”
Weston continued: “You are the moron who knows nothing about traffic law and spreads disinformation to the traveling public. Now there will be even more driver morons not knowing proper right-turn requirements.”
What put a chip on Weston’s shoulder is “shoulder.”
According to state law, the paved “shoulder” is not the “roadway” even though it’s the same ribbon of asphalt.
How could that be?
Each section of the Colorado Revised Statutes offers definitions before stating the laws.
In the case of Title 42 “Vehicles and Traffic,” the definitions alone are an agonizing 6,742 words long.
By way of comparison, this column is an agonizing 621 words.
Action Line went back to read the definitions. A week late, mind you.
By way of justification, why on God’s green earth should there be any question of what constitutes a “roadway?” It’s a road, for crying out loud.
But it’s not, and things get absurd.
“Road,” according to the definitions, “means any highway.”
“Highway” is “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel or the entire width of every way declared to be a public highway by any law of this state.”
There’s no definition for “boundary lines” in this section. (Does that mean those white lines?) Nor is “entire width” defined. But it’s beside the point.
Traffic laws apply to “roadways.”
“Roadway,” according to the statutes, “means that portion of a highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk, berm or shoulder … ”
So the shoulder of a road or highway is not part of the “roadway.” Seriously.
That was confirmed by Colorado State Patrol Trooper Ben Steger, who politely pointed out: “While you did cite the correct statute for method and position of turning, CRS 42-4-901, the error comes with the definition of ‘roadway’ as used in that statute,” he emailed.
“This is actually a very common error because of what we think of a roadway being in everyday conversation vs. how the Legislature defined roadway in Title 42,” Ben pointed out.
“So, by the Title 42 definition of what a roadway is, when a person is making a right turn on Highway 550 in accordance with 42-4-901(1)(a), the edge of the roadway is the fog line between the normal travel lane and the shoulder. Thus, Mr. (Eric) Greene (the question asker) is correct not to be using the shoulder for right turns.”
Action Line crossed the line. Let’s set the record straight.
“Roads” are “highways.” But we drive on the portion called “roadways,” and “roadways” don’t include shoulders.
If it weren’t obvious before, it’s now abundantly clear: Action Line is not a Roads Scholar.
Email questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you can explain how we can park on a driveway and drive on a parkway.