Monday, June 23, 2008

Poking along in the left lane? Prepare to pay

SEATTLE -- Even if you're going the speed limit it might not be enough to prevent you from getting a ticket if you're holding up traffic in the fast lane.

State troopers are on a mission to make sure the left lane on area freeways is used for its intended purpose: passing.

"We're doing 58, 59 miles an hour and they are just sitting there, traffic's passing them on the right hand side," Trooper Keith Leary said while pointing out a car in the left lane of Interstate 5. "That's exactly what we don't want to see happen."

The driver, Brasta Bonifcho, said he was surprised what he was doing was illegal.

"I didn't know that, I really didn't know that," he said. "I am guilty, no question about it."

Leary reminded Bonifcho that drivers need to stay in the right lanes unless they're passing another vehicle.

Everyone pulled over during Leary's patrol said they thought it wasn't a problem as long as they were going the speed limit. But the law says otherwise.

"It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic," the statute reads.

The reason for the law is to help keep traffic moving and to diffuse potential road rage situations.

"It just takes one thing to set them off," Leary said of frustrated drivers stuck behind slower moving vehicles. "If we can alleviate one of those things, maybe we can avoid an assault."

The State Patrol said several recent collisions caused by slow vehicles in the passing lane have prompted increased enforcement of the law along area interstates.

Drivers in the HOV lanes are exempt from the rule, but anyone else could be facing a $124 ticket.

Finally. This continues to be a pet peeve of mine. Keep right except to pass is a law. I feel the road rage building in me everytime I come up on four cars, riding four abreast on a four lane road, all going the same speed!!! Arrgh!


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