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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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oklahoma s new left lane law yields 60 citations since november some complaints

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 [the law],” 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.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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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

  • Jeff NYC does have the right to access these charges and unless you are traveling on business or a necessity you don't have to drive or live in NYC. I have been in NYC a few times and I have absolutely no desire to go back. I can say the same thing about Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston where I lived for 29 years. A city can get too big where it is no longer livable for many. I was raised in West Houston near the Katy Freeway which is part of I-10. The Katy Freeway when I moved from Houston in 1987 was a 6 lane road--3 lanes on each side of the interstate with each side having side access roads which we called feeder roads for a total of 8 lanes. Today the Katy freeway has 26 lanes which include feeder roads. I went back to Houston in 2010 to see my father who was dying and lost any desire to go back. To expand the Katy Freeway it took thousands of businesses to be torn down. I read an article about future expansion of the Katy freeway that said the only way to expand it was to either put a deck above it or to go underground. One of the things the city was looking at was to have tolls during the peak hours of traffic. Houston is very flat and it is easier to expand the size of roads than in many eastern cities but how easy is it to expand a current road that already has 26 lanes and is one of the widest roads in the World. It seems that adding more lanes to the Katy freeway just expanded the amount of traffic and increased the need for more lanes. Just adding more lanes and expanding roads is not a long term solution especially when more homes and businesses are built in an area. There was rapid growth In Northern Kentucky when I lived in Hebron near the Northern Kentucky Cincinnati Airport. , Amazon built a terminal and facility onto the airport that was larger than the rest of the airport. Amazon built more warehouses, more homes were being built, and more businesses. Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky are constantly expanding roads and repairing them. Also there is the Brent Spence Bridge which crosses the Ohio River into Cincinnati that is part of I-71 and I-75 and major North and South corridor. The bridge is 60 years old and is obsolete and is in severe disrepair. I-71 and I-75 are major corridors for truck transportation.
  • Art_Vandelay It's not like everyone is topping their ICE vehicles off and coasting into the gas station having used every last drop of fuel either though. Most people start looking to fill up at around a 1/4 of a tank. If you constantly run the thing out of gas your fuel pump would probably be unhappy. If you running your EV to zero daily you probably bought the wrong vehicle
  • ToolGuy Imagine how exciting the automotive landscape will be once other manufacturers catch up with Subaru's horizontally-opposed engine technology.
  • FreedMike Oh, and this..."While London likes to praise its own congestion charging for reducing traffic and increasing annual revenues, tourism has declined..."The reason London's tourism numbers are down is that the city has resumed its' "tourist tax." And why did the tourist tax get reimposed? Brexit. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/tourist-tax-cost-millions-myth-hmrc-survey-foreign-visitors-spending-uk-b1082327.html
  • Dukeisduke Eh, still a Nissan. Nope.