'Slowpoke laws' target left-lane plodders

You can be ticketed and fined if you poke along in the left lane. Your car insurance can go up, too.

By QuinStreet May 1, 2014 2:26PM

This post comes from Susan Ladika at partner site Insure.com.

Insure.com on MSN MoneyStates throughout the country are cracking down on drivers who poke along in the left-hand lane. They're imposing new laws, strengthening existing laws, or stepping up enforcement of laws that penalize those who drive too slowly in the left lane, or who tool along in the left lane, rather than using it as a passing lane.

Need for Speed © Mark Evans, The Agency Collection, Getty ImagesSo while speeding could earn you a traffic ticket, along with points on your driver's license, fines and higher car insurance rates, going too slow in the fast lane often can bring the same penalties.

In some states the law targets those who go below the speed limit in the left lane; in others it's aimed at those who block traffic in the left lane, regardless of how fast they're going.

In some states the law applies only to those traveling on the interstates; in other states it applies to anyone driving on a divided highway.

A slower driver in the left lane can prompt other motorists to weave in and out of traffic, trying to pass them. "With each lane change, there are more opportunities for a crash," says Capt. Stephen Jones, spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police. New Jersey increased its penalties for slow drivers in the left lane last year.

"I have seen cases where someone is trying to zip in between the guys on the right when the one in front is going slow, and those are dangerous maneuvers," Northeast Florida Safety Council director Jerry Webster told the Florida Times-Union when his state's law went into effect. "And when people get frustrated, they will forget to use turn signals, and you don't know what they are going to do. They will be tailgating and there are rear-end collisions when the person going slow on the left slows down even more."

Slower traffic keep right

The latest state to climb on the bandwagon is Georgia. This year both the state House and the state Senate have approved a new law that allows officers to ticket slower drivers in the left lane. It now awaits signature from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

It applies to anyone driving on a divided highway or interstate -- even if they're going the speed limit.

If you don't move to the right when another driver wants to zip past you in Georgia, you could face up to a $1,000 fine and year in prison. There are exemptions for situations such as traffic congestion or hazardous conditions.

Last year, Florida enacted a law that can penalize drivers going 10 mph or more below the speed limit in the left lane and don't get out of the way for faster vehicles. You can wind up with a $60 fine and three points on your driver's license.

New Jersey also has boosted the fines motorists face for driving too slowly in the left lane. The fines had been between $50 and $200; now they're between $100 and $300.

Motorists need to remember to keep right and leave the left lane free for passing, Jones says. Those who are stopped could receive a ticket and two points on their driver's license - the same as a speeding violation of 14 mph over the limit or less.

Any moving violation has the potential to jack up car insurance rates, says Insure.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner. "One company may not count a minor infraction like this, another might remove your good driver discount, and another could actually raise your rates," she says.

Defusing 70-mph brinksmanship

The new patchwork of laws may seem confusing, but the underlying rule of the road isn't. The U.S. Uniform Vehicle Code - the underpinning of traffic laws in most states - requires that cars moving at less than the "normal speed of traffic" move to the right.

Additional state laws typically add fines and penalties for specific circumstances. In some states, the left lane is for passing only. In others, you are required to move right only if a faster car approaches, or only if the slower car is driving 10 mph or more below the limit.

The intent behind the laws is the same: keep traffic flowing and limit road rage.

Slowpokes in the left lane might prompt impatient drivers to do something risky, says Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute. "When people are blocked from driving at the speed they want, they sometimes create a dangerous situation not only for themselves but for everyone else on the road."

The law takes into account situations where the weather is bad, and a motorist who tries to speed in a blinding rainstorm, for example, could be ticketed for going too fast for conditions, McChristian says.

A law can't move that Camry by itself

Even after a state enacts such laws, there's no guarantee motorists will naturally comply.

Jones, of the New Jersey State Police, says that in many cases, out-of-state drivers are the most likely to camp out in the left lane. Even residents may simply not know the law.

Washington state created a YouTube campaign in 2011 to spread the word about its Keep Right Law, yet stepped up enforcement earlier this year. Motorists are required to keep right on a multilane road unless they're passing, or they could face a $124 fine.

"While camping in the left lane might be among the most annoying violations out there, we really don't have any evidence that it's causing serious collisions," says Robert Calkins, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers typically will educate motorists about the law rather than ticket them, he says.

Last year, Washington troopers contacted more than 14,000 who were violating the state's laws about driving in the left lane, and wrote more than 1,100 citations. But Calkins says data doesn't show how many violators were drivers of semis, who are prohibited from driving in the left lane if three lanes are available.

More on Insure.com


May 1, 2014 4:45PM
It's about time. It may not result in less accidents, but I guarantee "road rage" incidents will decline significantly.
May 1, 2014 8:17PM
PRIUS DRIVERS - listen up and move over. Quit staring at the milage gage. You'll get your 40 bigillon miles per gallon in the slow lane, but not at the expense of those who wish to use the freeways as they are designed.
May 1, 2014 7:59PM

I have NEVER EVER seen a policeman pull over a left lane hog.

Some idiot will be holding up 8-10 cars and not a cop in sight.

No wonder people get road rage.

May 1, 2014 11:33PM
I have no issue with passing you on the left, on the right or down the middle. Driving would be a lot less frustrating for everyone if people stayed out of the passing lane so others can get by. My wife and I refer to other drivers as zombie's because that's how they drive, mouth open and drooling. The US has the best roads in the world and many people still have trouble keeping their car in control and on the road. If people actual paid attention to what's going on outside their own car many accidents would never happen.
May 2, 2014 12:05AM
I have driven for forty years and am getting more scared of others who share the road every day. I am ever thankful that we all don't have airplanes to fly, also. Some of you people suck at driving, really!
May 1, 2014 11:13PM

It's not just about causing road rage. If you're going slow in the left lane, backing up traffic. More cars in a smaller space means more chance that the cars will hit each other. If something goes wrong, there's less time to react before you catch the car in front of you. Simple. Move over.

May 1, 2014 11:14PM
I disagree with the out of state drivers excuse. I drive in all states. People need to know that the law requires them to stay right.
May 2, 2014 10:01AM

Wow! it's pretty clear that we all don't see this the same way. I am amazed how many flat earth types still insist that if they are going the speed limit then they have every right to hold up traffic by lounging in the left lane. Some almost make it sound like it's their duty to keep the rest of us under control.... in a screwed up vigilante sort of mentality.

 Anyway these are the same maroons who, while traveling on a secondary road posted at 45, will use their brakes on a down hill grade to keep from going 46!!! makes me wonder what is going on in their mind at the time. Chill people..... just take your foot off the gas for a minute and enjoy the coast even if your speed creeps up to 47 or 48... trust me god is not going to strike you down. Later on you can visit your priest or whoever and confess your sin. Meanwhile the rest of us won't have to endure your brake lights flashing on and off for miles.

May 1, 2014 11:34PM

NFW.......can this be possible, could the idiots and rude MoFo's from MA. be ticketed for their shameful ignorant driving habits they bring to NH.

Can't think how many times I'm driving on the Highway and tooling along around 70ish, which is the speed limit on many parts of NH highways, and some flaming jackass from MA is poking along in the passing lane doing a stately 55-60 and in all their ignorance they just sit there like they own the freaking road, refusing to pull into the slow lane, someone needs to tell them it's slow for moving traffic not their mentality.  As far as I am concerned these people represent one of the worst distractions on the road, forcing others who choose to move along at road speed to alter course and find a way around these ignorant jerks.

Now that is Venting........thought I would never read a decent article on MSN and voila.....

May 2, 2014 12:20AM

They need maxium enforcement of this law cause every fluckin day I see these fools parked in the fast lane.

May 1, 2014 8:48PM
The right lane, is the new left lane.
May 2, 2014 11:01AM
Driving on I75 thru Georgia.....was this car in front of me in the left lane, (speed limit 75), doing no more than 60, some twit beatch & her friend blabbing...refusing to move over. I flashed my brights...nothing.   There was traffic piling up behind me.  This went on for at least 10 minutes w/me on her tail.  Finally I laid on the horn & wouldn't get off it unless she moved....and as she moved over to the right,  there was a sign on the left that said:  :"slower traffic keep right".  As I passed the beatch, she had the nerve to give me the finger.  That's the kind of self-absorbed a-holes that are out on the roads.  There is no real traffic, people.  There is just a handful of arrogant a-holes causing it.
May 1, 2014 8:02PM
They've got this law in Colorado, But do you think anyone pays attention to it? Nor do they enforce it...
May 2, 2014 1:01AM
Long Overdue!  from a safety standpoint the left lane is the worst lane you can be in - there are at least 5 scenarios I can think of where the percentages of having a problem are reduced by staying right.  Drive Right, and Pass Left - this isn't England!
May 1, 2014 9:43PM
It's been my experience that very few drivers pay any attention at all to the posted speed limits and drive what they feel comfortable at and can get away with.  Supposedly, the 85th percentile rule is used to set speed limits.  I would love to drive faster, I just stick with the speed limit and stay in the right lane, but why do we have any speed laws at all if they're not going to be followed.  I had no trouble driving well over 100 on the Autobahn when I was in Germany, and yes, I made sure I was out of the way when someone faster wanted to go by.  I say either quit complaining and either obey or elect people to remove, or increase, the speed limits.    
May 1, 2014 9:33PM
I've noticed some areas like the Midwest have a lot of drivers who stay in the left lane and force faster drivers to go around them. I thought it was just the way people drove there.
May 1, 2014 9:04PM
Are you kidding me I live in Massachusetts for one when you are on the highway there are no cops in sight and when you do go into the left lane if you are going 80 mph { speed limit 65] then you better move over . I now notice that the 18 wheelers are now hogging the center lane as well as the right and if you are not doing 75 mph in the middle lane you have a 18 wheeler up your ****
May 2, 2014 8:18AM
I get so mad at these plodders that I could scream at times, I always wondered why someone didn't give them a reason to get the hell out of others peoples way.... some drive in the fast lane doing the speed limit as if they own the lane, MOVE OVER DAMMIT, if I want to speed they should move...3856716&*&  
May 2, 2014 1:29AM
Time for a little NASCAR-style "bump drafting"!
May 2, 2014 11:16AM
I normally drive at the speed limit and stay to the right.  But frequently I move to the left to pass a car driving a little slower.  Oops, the other guy sees he is going to be passed and he doesn't want that so he speeds up and keeps me from passing, and every one behind him fills up the space so I can't get back in the right lane.  Happens at least once on every 2-3 hour drive.
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