Oklahoma's New 'Left Lane' Law Yields 60 Citations Since November, Some Complaints

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
oklahomas new 8216 left lane law yields 60 citations since november some

Back in November, Oklahoma passed a law making it extra illegal to use the left lane on all divided highways for any purpose other than passing. This law is already in effect throughout most of the U.S., but enforcement is tricky and highly dependent on traffic flow. Plenty of overtaking occurs above the posted limit, meaning drivers maintaining that speed often feel justified in staying in the left-most lane.

To clarify, Oklahoma already had a law forbidding motorists from hogging lanes on multi-lane highways. The November edict simply tacked on a fine (typically around $230) and a notice from the highway patrol that it wouldn’t tolerate the behavior anymore. “Basically, in simplest terms is, if you’re not passing a vehicle or overtaking a vehicle and you’re in the left lane, you’re in the wrong lane to drive,” State Trooper Clayton Fredrickson explained last year.

Initially, authorities said they’d pull people over to remind them of the law and issue a warning. But the The Oklahoman has since reported the crackdown resulted in dozens of tickets in the past few months — most of which appear to have been issued by a handful of troopers.

“I wasn’t even aware of ,” explained 25-year old Darren Fields, who was ticketed in November. “That was called the fast lane; as far as I knew, and right lane was for the slower drivers.”

Fields said there was no traffic to impede and felt the left lane was probably the best place for him, given his speed. He remained in the lane for several miles before moving to the right, where he was pulled over by a state trooper. He was issued a citation for impeding the flow of traffic in the left lane, speeding, and subsequently arrested for driving under the influence.

“I was probably just going about 5 or 6 over, but it’s the fast lane,” he said. “I think it’s just to get money out of people’s pockets.”

According to Jalopnik, which also covered the citations, Oklahoma prohibits driving in the center of a three-lane highway except when passing. The outlet also referenced a social posting from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol citing the new left lane law. However, upon closer inspection, the departmental announcement was actually from 2014 — meaning authorities have been struggling with the issue for some time.

“For all you folks who like to drive in the left lane on a divided highway, guess what? You’re breaking the law. The left lane is a passing lane,” read the department’s status.

At the time, the public’s response to the posting was fairly negative. Many said that if law enforcement wants them to move to the right, it should encourage the state to improve the condition of its roadways.

While we’re all for getting lollygaggers out of the passing lane, the decision to have individual officers decide when the flow of traffic reaches a point where more lanes can be taken up is a gray area rife with complications.

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  • Aron9000 Aron9000 on Apr 03, 2018

    People need to know that you put your damn foot to the floor-board when you merge onto the interstate. The ramp near me, its not very long, the merge area at the bottom of the ramp is short. In my little 2.4 liter 5 speed Tacoma, that means you keep your foot buried and shift at a high rpm, you will be doing 60-70 at the end of the ramp in 3rd or 4th gear. Nothing pisses me off more than somebody who is going halfway down the ramp and stops accelerating at 35, 40, 45, 50mph. You know traffic is doing a good 65-75mph at the end of this damn ramp, and that it is straight uphill at the end of the ramp as well. People that do this, I honk at them and flash my high-beams to try and get them to speed the fuck up. Sometimes it works and they put down their cell-phone, sometimes they are like fuck you, I'm going to merge at 45-50mph in front of that truck or car, make him change lanes and slam on his brakes and force you onto the shoulder.

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Apr 03, 2018

    ^^^ *fudge

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