James from Denver writes, “I am requesting something for all Denver Residents. Is it possible to make a comment during every traffic update that reminds everybody that all Federally Funded Interstates, Freeways, etc., no matter what state you are in, the law is, if you are not passing, stay out of the left lane! It is a PASSING LANE! It is not just to cruise along with all the other traffic in the other lanes, so remember, if you’re not passing, stay out of the left lane, Please! These people cause more accidents from everybody getting frustrated and punching it to go around and end up crashing or getting crashed into.
I have never seen anything like this attitude in Denver, where they cruise in the left lane and if you get on their tail, they sling you the bird! Still refusing to get out of the way and go cruise in the right lane. They have some warped problem with feeling like they are entitled to cruise in the lane that the law says is a "PASSING LANE ONLY.”
Well, James, that is the complaint that I get more often than any other during my Friday Facebook live broadcast on the Denver7 Facebook Page. I’ve written several stories about this problem, including this one and this one. People who like to drive fast like to use the left lane and they get really, really, really bugged when there is someone going slower than they want to go camping out there in the left lane. Colorado’s left lane 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 nonpassing lane or turning left, or unless the volume of traffic does not permit the motor vehicle to safely merge into a nonpassing lane.”
The Colorado State Patrol describes a nonpassing lane as, “any lane that is to the right of the passing lane if there are two or more adjacent lanes of traffic moving in the same direction in one roadway.” A passing lane is defined as “the farthest to the left lane if there are two or more adjacent lanes of traffic moving in the same direction in one roadway; except that, if such left lane is restricted to high occupancy vehicle use or is designed for left turns only, the passing lane shall be the lane immediately to the right of such high occupancy lane.”
Let me highlight the main problem in that law for frustrated Denver drivers. It says, “where the speed is 65 mph or more.” Much of Metro Denver around the core of the city has a speed limit of less than 65 so that law does not apply on 6th Ave east of Sheridan or I-25 between Evans and 104th Ave or much of I-70 across town but it does apply outside the Denver core. Also, the left lane law doesn’t apply when the volume of traffic is high, not allowing for drivers to safely merge into the nonpassing lanes like during rush hour or just about any hour nowadays.
I heard from one person who would like to see the Colorado Department of Transportation remind drivers of the left lane law by posting it on the overhead signs. That might be a good way to start and see how that helps. I also saw a funny comment from someone who says, “I always block the left hand lane, to ensure safety. I have an entire team of drivers who have been trained to do this all around the country. Our mission is to create safe driving, slow driving, and road rage. We are winning this battle of the lanes, and everyday we recruit new members. It is an underground movement, and soon no lane will be free to pass in. Our agenda is slowing yours down.” A very tongue in cheek comment there.
The penalty if cited for a left lane violation is miniscule compared to the aggression it can cause some drivers. The fine is just $35.00 with an additional $6.20 surcharge. The violation includes 3 points against the violator’s Colorado Driver’s License.
I hope this story serves as a reminder for those drivers who either consciously or unintentionally camp out in the left lane to move over and leave that lane open for others.
Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 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, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Podbean.