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Left-lane camping isn't just annoying, it's illegal

KIRO Radio

They are quite possibly the most annoying drivers on the road. They are the left-lane-camping drivers who create congestion and prevent others from passing.

There are so many of them that they've become a running joke. Pemco Insurance recently made fun of them in one of their Northwest Profiles ads.

But left-lane campers are not funny. They create dangers on the road, and they are breaking the law.

State law designates the left lane as a passing lane. If you are camped out there, you can be ticketed. This applies to roads where there are two or more lanes traveling in the same direction. It does not apply to HOV lanes. The law requires that you make your pass and then get over.

State Patrol Sergeant J.J. Gundermann stars in a new video reminding left-lane campers that they need to move over because complaints about those drivers have increased.

Standing next to his cruiser, Sgt. Gundermann tells viewers that it's a frustrating and annoying practice that can led to dangerous situations and even road rage.

"We don't have any specific data that supports that it causes road rage, but it certainly frustrates people," says Sgt. Gundermann. "We don't want it to escalate to that."

It's not only the law to get over, he said, but it's also the courteous thing to do. "If you're walking at the mall or in line at Disneyland, you don't hold people up," he said. "If someone's trying to get by, you move over. You let them pass. We're asking for the same courtesy when we're out on the roadway."

The most egregious of these left-lane-hogging drivers is the pace car. You know who I'm talking about. The driver who thinks it's his or her job to make sure everyone is driving the speed limit or below.

It's the driver who speeds up when you try to safely pass on the right and slows down again when you don't make it. Sergeant Gundermann told me those drivers could face aggressive driving or road rage citations.

"We hear that a lot," he said. "If people are out there trying to regulate the speed, I'd be more than happy to send them application to become a trooper because that's what we do."

Sgt. Gundermann's advice for drivers who come up on a left-lane camper.

"We don't want you tailgating. We don't want you flashing lights. We don't want you inciting any grievance with that vehicle. Move over to the right lane, and if it's safe to slowly get by, you can do that." So no gestures as you pass, and certainly no quick swerve in front of that driver to express your frustration.

So please get over. It's not your job to keep me from speeding. If I choose to speed, that's my choice, and I will suffer the consequences if a trooper nabs me. But don't forget you could face a ticket too for slowing up traffic.

By the way, the state law is RCW 46.61.100 if you want to check it out.

Watch message from Washington State Patrol:

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About the Author

Chris Sullivan is a traffic reporter for KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He cares deeply about the amount of time you spend sitting in Seattle traffic.


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