Road Rules 101: Driving slowly in the left lane

May 22, 2019 by PEMCO Insurance

What's considered improper use of the left lane, particularly driving in it except to pass?

Hands on steering wheel.Both Washington and Oregon enforce "keep right except to pass" laws. Washington law states, "It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of traffic." It doesn't matter if you're driving the speed limit.

There are exceptions, for example, when maneuvering to avoid an obstruction, giving extra clearance around emergency vehicles or exiting on the left. And, of course, when freeways are in the throes of rush hour, troopers expect bumper-to-bumper cars in every lane.

Washington has a few additional restrictions and clarifications. For example, if there are three or more lanes moving in the same direction, the left lane is off-limits to vehicles towing trailers and those over 10,000 pounds. Another surprise for some drivers: The HOV lane is not considered the left lane.

Left-lane camping isn't just illegal and annoying. It can be dangerous – not necessarily because it causes accidents, but by sparking road rage. Troopers agree that if you find yourself stuck behind slowpokes, resist the urge to "educate" them by honking, gesturing, flashing headlights or tailgating.

NOTE: While we're experts in loss prevention and home/auto safety, we don't consider ourselves experts in traffic laws or their enforcement. Information shared here is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have legal concerns, we urge you to contact a law enforcement source or attorney in your community.

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