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Washington State Patrol is on the hunt for left-lane campers

(File, Associated Press)

Drivers are usually watching out for law enforcement when they are traveling too fast. But now state troopers are diverting their attention to other drivers – the slow variety.

We’ve all seen them on the road, and even been trapped driving behind them – folks who drive in the left lane and go at or below the speed limit. They’re called “left-lane campers.”

“I travel 101, which is two lanes, and you see it,” said Sgt. Paul Cagle with the Washington State Patrol. “It’s not something that a trooper has to hide out and wait for it to come.”

Related: Senator ups the ante on tackling Washington’s left lane campers

The patrol emphasis for left-lane campers is slated for March 16-17. Drivers can expect troopers across the state to be focusing their efforts on slow drivers, specifically those in the left lanes. That’s where traffic is reserved for people passing others. Camping out in that lane prevents traffic from flowing properly.

“We all know there are people out there … that enjoy or like to go just a little bit under the speed limit. That’s what those right lanes are for, primarily,” Cagle said. “The left lane allows for folks the ability to move around slow moving traffic.”

“Congestion is an issue, but it’s also from a safety standpoint,” he said. “A number of our collisions involve aggressive driving. And there’s that frustration we all get when we are stuck behind someone camped out in the left lane … and that may cause a motorist to take risks they may not take because of the frustration.”

Cagle said that troopers may take factors into account to decide if slow drivers get a ticket or a warning, such as aggressive driving or other dangerous behavior.

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