Sheila from Clear Creek County writes, “What is driving you crazy? People staying in the left lane on the highway and interstate and not passing people on the right. The left lane is used for passing and people should be given a ticket if that is not what they are using it for. It slows down traffic greatly.”
Sheila, I receive this complaint often. In fact, I wrote about this in a previous Driving You Crazy article. More often than not I hear your complaint from drivers on I-70 west of Denver and through Clear Creek County. Drivers are slowed naturally by the elevation changes on I-70 and drivers impeding traffic in the left lane can lead to longer and more frustrating slowdowns.
The Auto Insurance Center states that driving slow in the left lane is dumb and illegal. “Why people drive slow in the left lane is one of the most vexing problems of the road since the invention of the automobile,” it says.
Colorado passed a left lane law that took effect in 2004. The law states: “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed limit is sixty-five miles per hour or more unless such person is passing other motor vehicles that are in a non-passing lane or turning left, or unless the volume of traffic does not permit the motor vehicle to safely merge into a non-passing lane.”
MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy
Some believe that if they are going the speed limit they have the right to cruise in the left lane, but in their Left Lane Law brochure, the Colorado State Patrol states that “it is the exclusive responsibility of law enforcement officers to initiate appropriate enforcement action.” According to the CSP, “By mitigating traffic flow conflicts caused by slower drivers, bouts of aggressive driving would likely be reduced.” The Patrol believes the Left Lane Law achieves the appropriate balance between public safety and optimizing traffic flow on Colorado highways.
If you are stopped and written a ticket for violating the Left Lane Law the penalty is $35.00 with an additional $6.20 surcharge bringing the total to $41.20. The violation includes 3 points on your license. In some states the fine is much, much higher. Like in Georgia where the fine can be $1000. Indiana allows for fines up to $500.
The major concern by CSP troopers is when they see a driver trying to “teach another driver a lesson” by driving slow in the left lane, whether at the speed limit or below it. Troopers warn that anytime one driver blocks other drivers, it can lead to an accident or aggressive driving.
Denver7 traffic reporter Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is about 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.