By on July 20, 2016

traffic

Frustrated by congestion and unsafe lane changes, state governments are telling left lane drivers to get the lead out.

Tennessee rolled out a new law on July 1 that dings drivers $50 for driving too slowly in the left lane, joining a growing list of states that want to free up the go-fast lane through penalties. The days of drivers coasting along at (or slightly under) the speed limit in the passing lane are waning, and that’s a good thing.

Since 2013, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia and Indiana passed new get your ass outta the way laws designed to keep traffic moving on overburdened highways. Indiana police used the law to write 109 tickets and issue 1,535 warnings to feather-footed drivers since last year.

Lawmakers behind the new rules don’t necessarily want pokey drivers to speed up, they just want them to move over to a more sedate lane. Rules differ by state — Indiana drivers need to move over if they’re blocking three vehicles, and Georgia drivers blocking one vehicle while driving under the limit had better vacate the premises.

Before the rule hit the books, the architect of Tennessee’s “Slowpoke Law” said the measures didn’t have anything to do with speed — just traffic flow.

“If you’re in the left lane of a three-lane highway and you’re not there to pass and if you’re impeding the flow of traffic, an officer has the option of writing you a ticket,” State Rep. Dan Howell (R – Georgetown), told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“Keep right” laws already exist (in some form or another) in every state, but many drivers haven’t learned their lesson. Why do people still dawdle along in the left lane? Once again, the media blames Nixon — well, the Nixon era.

The 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, adopted by Congress in 1973 to counter gas shortages caused by the OPEC Oil Embargo, left lasting psychological damage. That law was heaven for slow drivers, who could now drive Ms. Daisy in any lane they chose, but it shattered the driving norms associated with each lane. Hence the need for “keep right” laws after the oil started flowing and speed limits nudged upwards.

With luck, the newer laws will see results, so there won’t be a need for overhead signs that flash: “Beige Toyota, GTFO.”

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66 Comments on “States are Finally Getting Tough on Left Lane Hogs...”


  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Seems pretty vague if it’s used against people going at or above the speed limit.

    People behind you? Of course there are. It’s an urban freeway. The people to the right going much faster? They are speeding, are they not? Is it purely abitrary the cop?

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …if vehicles to your right are travelling faster, you’re in the wrong lane: get the f*ck over and get out of the way…

      • 0 avatar
        bachewy

        Harumph! Here in Colorado I stay in the right lane and pass EVERYBODY, and I’m just doing the speed limit. It’s insane.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Central and south Florida is also particularly bad for that. But I won’t deny you can make good time, spending about 90% of your time in the “slow” lane much like you describe. And I feel zero guilt any time I do just that.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Here in Texas there are always cars and massive trucks always insisting to pass on the right, even when they don’t have to, and there are plenty of slow drivers in the left lanes. Nobody has got a clue.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Great, but here in Connecticut, we have so many left hand exits and entrances that it is difficult to keep slow drivers out of the left lane anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I wonder if that’sounds due to geography or simply bad planning. Having a gaggle of left lane exits makes it less interstate and more surface road in my mind which nullifies the right lane rule.

      We have a few in my AO which can r e ally screw up the flow of traffic, espequally when somebody fails to realize they have to make a left off the interstate and cross three lanes of traffic to do so.

      • 0 avatar
        TriumphDriver

        It’s as often as not a cost-savings measure. There’s a left-lane exit on I-91 north that trucks use to get to a number of industrial premises. It could have been built as a right lane exit at the cost of additional land acquisition and an expensive overpass that probably was not considered cost-effective at the time.
        In general Jimal is correct in his comment. I’m not sure how you would enforce this law on much of I-95 at the times when traffic flow is being impeded by people failing to understand that a change in grade might just require you to press harder on the go pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      toadroller

      Having driven both directions across CT (I84 from MA to NY) in the last 48 hours, I cheered at the topic of the article.

      Left hand exits or no, CT drivers seem to insist on drifting into and impeeding traffic in the left hand lane for no reason whatsoever. And I witnessed three maniacs weaving across multiple lanes at speeds near 90. Just insanity.

      The poor road planning and roadwork guarantee congestion in Hartford, Waterbury, and Danbury.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        The road work, particularly in Waterbury, will eventually help somewhat. They’re finally addressing the issue where four or five lanes necked down to two lanes for about a half mile on 84 West in Waterbury before opening back up to four or five lanes before the big viaduct.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I live right near danbury, and I agree that the left merges slow things a bit. Still connecticut drivers aren’t too bad when it comes to lane discipline overall. What they do is come to ny and go 15 under posted on windy roads, or at least the trophy wives in big luxury suvs do.

        Massachusetts on the other hand… you might as well jersey slide all the way to the right at the state line. I see dense traffic in both left lanes and a totally open right every time I drive through. The rule there must be locals keep left, is inexplicable otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      All civil engineers that design left hand exits and on ramps should have their genitals removed forcefully. It needs to be assured that they cannot reproduce.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        With RUSTY TOOLS ! .
        .
        I grew up Down East and was appalled when I went back in the 1970’s that new highways still used this 1920’s tech exit construction .
        .
        -Nate

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s *so* much easier (and profitable) to sit in a police car at the side of the road and nab speeders at 10 over with LIDAR.

    Yes, I dream of a world where crappy behavior is the primary focus of highway enforcement, but color me skeptical.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I wonder if North Carolina will adopt this? It ought to make for an interesting day in court when they have thier zero tolerance speeding event again.

      “Yes your honor I issued two citations to the same driver. I cited the driver for hanging in the left lane doing 65 in a 65 and then when they tried to overtake the vehicle in the right lane doing 65 in a 65 I cited them for doing 66 in a 65.”

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      You will see it. The slow left lane drivers also piss off cops every once in a while. Don’t forget that cops often to seem to rush somewhere, even without an emergency. Ever seen a cop flash his high beams at a left lane hog? I have seen it.

  • avatar
    McKeith

    Left lane slow pokes bad – the only drivers that are worse are the right lane speeders

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      There would be no right lane speeders if we got rid of all the left lane slow pokes.

      • 0 avatar
        TriumphDriver

        Come to Connecticut and observe people who will cut across the middle lane of traffic to overtake in the right hand lane even though vehicles in the left-most lane are travelling faster than those in the middle lane and quite often faster than the posted speed limit.
        Why might the right hand lane be empty a lot of the time? Clue: the exit I take to get to my house is exit 54, precisely 54 miles from the NY State line. (The exits are numbered sequentially, not by mileage from the state line.)
        The right lane is really just a continuous acceleration/deceleration lane (when traffic is moving at all).

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        In New York, at least in Westchester and Putnam Counties, passing on the right is a regular occurrence.

    • 0 avatar
      lonborghini

      Well, get out of the left lane so we speeders can use it.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        The phenomenon is independent of left lane crawlers. I’m more of a middle lane driver/left lane passer, but every time I’m on 684 there are drivers who either ride in the middle lane and pass right, or just stay in the right lane and pass everyone. The left lane is usually open.

  • avatar
    thelastdriver

    Heck yeah! I have several cars. Some faster than others. When I break out the ’89 Camry Wagon that lane is off-limits.

    My only complaint is that people are so stupid laws are required.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “My only complaint is that people are so stupid laws are required.”

      That’s putting it rather harshly and unkind… but there’s a lot of truth to it.

      I quietly shake my head when I hear “if everybody would just slow down…” No, if everybody would just pay attention. If I go half as fast then I’m on the road twice as long… and if everybody went half as fast then there would be twice as much traffic on the road. That doesn’t mean everyone should drive twice as fast but it *does* mean if you want to drive slower than the people behind you then you should move over, post-haste, and let them past.

      Instead of fining left lane slowpokes, we should have a control group who has to watch video footage of traffic jam slinkys for hours and hours on end. And just to make it hurt, no pee breaks.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    WAAYYYYYYY overdue ! .
    .
    I hope this gains traction in California , my home where we grow massive quantities of fruits , nuts and flakes .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    slance66

    I believe this would work in MA. I can tell you even now, if you don’t move over for the Staties….the lights will come on. Those guys headed home or to the barracks aren’t waiting for you, and they don’t drive under 80 in a 65.

    I like the tacit acknowledgement in these laws that speeding is permitted, at least to pass. I wonder if anyone can raise that point as a defense? If you can’t go over 65, and you can’t go under 65, at what speed can you drive?

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Yyyyyyyes!

    It’s not that hard, it’s really not. If someone’s coming up behind you, move over and let the traffic flow naturally.

    I drive faster than most people. I get out of the way for people moving faster than me. All you have to do is pay attention. People who slow down a lot, when they’re in the left lane going up hills or around moderate bends, drive me nuts. If you’re not comfortable going faster than someone behind you in your lane, move over because and let the traffic flow naturally!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Tickets are largely a cat-and-mouse game. Without camera enforcement, the whole thing is pretty much a crapshoot; there aren’t enough cops to cite more than a fraction of the total number of violators.

    Enforcement doesn’t really provide an answer. You have to post signs and get the word out, and then hope that peer pressure takes care of the rest. If driving too slowly for conditions is considered to be rude or otherwise socially unacceptable, then you might get somewhere. If nobody cares, then it won’t mean much.

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    I thought there were laws already in place that designates the left lane for passing only. As a teen taking driver’s ed that was one of the rules conveyed to us.

    I haven’t noticed it as much here in my current state but while down south it was quite common to have multiple people doddle about in the left lane.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      In the US, that is largely not the case.

      A lot of states borrow from the Uniform Vehicle Code, and that just calls for traffic that is going below the flow of traffic to keep right. That doesn’t mean that the left lane is a “fast lane” or for passing only.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I believe in Maine, and probably other states too, on divided highways, they place signs every so often saying to drive right and pass left. It seems like a pretty easy thing to do, but of course it wouldn’t work in more crowded areas where more frequent exits come both to the left as well as right.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Speeders suck.

    Left lane hogs who keep speeders bottled-up in my immediate vicinity suck more.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I hope FL steps up the left-lane enforcement on I-75 and I-95. The right lane is occupied by truckers and intelligent vacationers doing 70-75 mph. The left lane is blocked by clueless, selfish idiots – um, I mean, “less intelligent” vacationers – with MI, OH, PA, IN, and IL tags, who are also doing 70-75 mph, and they think they have no obligation to move right for faster traffic. So anybody who wants to go faster has to funnel through the middle lane.

    Can’t tell you how many near misses I’ve seen when a speedy guy from the left lane and a speedy guy from the right lane try for the same spot in the middle lane. No wonder so many Floridians resent us Midwesterners.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I remember one of the most annoying stories in the local paper about some college students from the local university were performing an “experiment” where they would drive side by side at exactly the speed limit on the local highway. They had asked the highway patrol if it was legal, and of course it was. I don’t know what exactly they were trying to do, but all they proved was that people really didn’t like it. Several passed on the shoulder, and they caused a pretty bad traffic jam.

    • 0 avatar
      Equinox

      If I remember right it was Atlanta and they were trying to prove that the existing speed limits are too slow and need to be revised. Not the best way to do it but they did prove their point.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “They had asked the highway patrol if it was legal, and of course it was.”

      I remember this stunt. I think the highway patrol, or whoever was representing the highway patrol, game them a wrong answer.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    Sound like a Win-Win for the state!

    Think about it……

    If a police officer is waiting for speeders, he can be lucky and nab one or just hit a driver who slowed down in the right lane because of his presence.

    Either way, he gets his ticket!!

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Man I wish they would enforce that here in California.

    I get the sense that many drivers hog the left lane as a spiteful move to prevent “loosing” to a faster driver. In other words, they are actively blocking someone behind them.

  • avatar

    Left lane hogs never ponder how their habit disrupts traffic flow anymore than a driver constantly braking thinks about the shock-wave effect.
    Cocooned in our metal and glass chamber we (not the B&B of course) forget it’s not just us out there, which might also explain the nose pickers and wannabe singers. They’re either clueless or they don’t care.
    Having driven in Germany many times you realize immediately left lane hogs are not tolerated. Almost no one does it, and those that do don’t reside in Germany. (Cough*Eastern Europeans*cough).

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Exactly! Hence my idea to make some of them watch video footage of a traffic slinky… again and again and again for hours on end. Clockwork Orange meets traffic court.

    • 0 avatar
      Sketch

      If you dawdle in the left lane in Germany you’re likely to get rear ended by a BMW doing 150 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      A German friend mentioned Japanese tourists are known for that.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      They have to be serious about lane discipline in Germany. You just can’t have traffic flowing at the speeds they’re accustomed to, unless you can pretty much take for granted that people will only be passing you on the left.

      Ditto for signalling in advance of a lane change. Not, like in California, pull out and sometimes signal unless your left hand is busy holding a joint or playing Pokemon, once you’re halfway into the other lane. Someone WILL be coming up on you in your new lane at a 50mph differential.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    For same states (looking at you, New England/Mid-Atlantic states!!), it’s hard to enforce as there’s lot of idiotic drivers who literally don’t care (hence MassHole drivers in my area!!) and that the design of the various roadways and lack of signs or strange signs make it especially dangerous when driving.

    No laws are going to stop certain groups of driver, elderly drivers or those hybrid owners, from driving on the left lane! That is one of the major reasons of congestion when slower drivers do Not move to the right lanes on the roads, or better yet, stay Off the roads!

    Whoever designed the roadways in the New England area, esp. the newer construction, should be taken given some massive physical violence!

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    This will only work if the police enforce it. It would help to get the word out through public service commercials on television and radio.

    In my state, the law for multiple lane roads has always been to drive on the right and pass on the left although passing on the right isn’t illegal. Twenty years ago, I caught up to a slow driver in the left lane of a rural interstate. I tailgated the car for a couple of minutes to no avail. Then, I noticed a deputy sheriff approaching from behind. I thought to myself, “This should be amusing,” dropped back and moved to the right lane. The deputy also tailgated for several minutes before the slowpoke moved over for him. The deputy passed but didn’t pull him over. The slowpoke then moved back into the left lane without speeding up. At that point, I decided, “The hell with this” and blew by in the right lane.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    If you are going the speed limit, it shouldn’t matter what lane you are in. Because no one should be going faster than you. That’s why it’s called ‘the limit.’

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    “want to free up the go-fast lane” . . .
    Wrong! They are all fast lanes, the ones to the left are passing lanes.

  • avatar
    itsgotahemi

    Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? George Carlin
    Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgecarl391403.html

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I like that quote, although personally I think that

      People who are going slower than me are usually just people who are going slower.

      People who are going faster than me are usually just people who are going faster.

      If they’re going slower than me and they’re in the left lane for a short time but move over for faster traffic, then they’re probably just people who are going slower. If they stay in the left lane and create a bottleneck, then they’re idiots.

      If they’re going faster than me and they’re passing on the right, sometimes they’re maniacs but more often than not they know it’s futile to wait for the idiots, as I described above.

      Cheers. Drive safe and keep right except to pass.

  • avatar
    cheezman88

    I’m almost positive this is just their way of making people think they can drive faster on the left lane so they can hand out more speeding tickets.

  • avatar
    3CatGo

    I think we can agree that drivers in every state are idiots when it comes to squatting in the left lane.

    I’ve always been pretty well disciplined with my use of the left lane, and I’m a cruise control at Speed Limit + 8 mph guy on highways if I’m the fastest car, but I’ll hang in a pack at “any” speed.

    Since doing some driving in Europe 2 years ago, I have become essentially a zealot though. I suppose I subscribe to the “be the change you want to see” model and just try to set a good example by vacating the left lane at every opportunity, and always signaling. And owning 2 German cars, I feel essentially obligated to do so.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Once saw a front license plate that said (mirror image so it could be read in a rear view mirror of the vehicle ahead) “KEEP RIGHT”.

    Although with the proliferation of gun slit windows, CUVs, and high belt lines the only way someone would be able to read it is if it was affixed to a bro-dozer.

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    Nearly every state has this (mostly unenforced) law. In Missouri, many drivers play the ‘you can’t get in front of me’ game. They’ll even try to slam the door on you at an entrance ramp. This may be because a Missourian will drastically slow at the top of every hill, for any slight corner, or any shiny object.

  • avatar
    bricoler1946

    Where I live, if a left lane hog is holding up 5 cars behind it, it’s ticket time and rightly so.

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