American Press

Friday, May 26, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,
(Special to the American Press)

(Special to the American Press)

Highway shoulders serve several functions

Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 1:27 PM

By Andrew Perzo / American Press

What are the shoulders of the roads supposed to be used for? And is it legal for police to run radar from the shoulders of the road?

State law says shoulders are “for accommodation of stopped vehicles, for emergency use, pedestrian use, mobility aid use, bicycle use, and for lateral support of base and surface.”

Additionally, R.S. 32:296 includes several exceptions to the prohibition on stopping, standing or parking on shoulders, including “public vehicles owned by public bodies which are engaged in the conduct of official business.”

More on shoulders from the Federal Highway Administration’s website:

“Shoulders provide space for emergency storage of disabled vehicles ... . Particularly on high-speed, high-volume highways such as urban freeways, the ability to move a disabled vehicle off the travel lanes reduces the risk of rear-end crashes and can prevent a lane from being closed, which can cause severe congestion and safety problems on these facilities.”

“Shoulders provide space for enforcement activities ... . This is particularly important for the outside (right) shoulder because law enforcement personnel prefer to conduct enforcement activities in this location. Shoulder widths of approximately 8 feet or greater are normally required for this function.”

“Shoulders provide space for maintenance activities ... . If routine maintenance work can be conducted without closing a travel lane, both safety and operations will be improved.”

“Shoulders provide an area for drivers to maneuver to avoid crashes ... . This is particularly important on high-speed, high-volume highways or at locations where there is limited stopping sight distance.”

“Shoulders improve bicycle accommodation ... . For most highways, cyclists are legally allowed to ride on the travel lanes. A paved or partially paved shoulder offers cyclists an alternative to ride with some separation from vehicular traffic.”

“Shoulders increase safety by providing a stable, clear recovery area for drivers who have left the travel lane. If a driver inadvertently leaves the lane or is attempting to avoid a crash or an object in the lane ahead, a firm, stable shoulder greatly increases the chance of safe recovery.”

“Shoulders improve stopping sight distance at horizontal curves by providing an offset to objects such as barrier and bridge piers.”

“On highways with curb and enclosed drainage systems, shoulders store and carry water during storms, preventing water from spreading onto the travel lanes.”

“On high-speed roadways, shoulders improve capacity by increasing driver comfort.”


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The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or email

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