Trooper tackles left-lane ‘camping’ head on

Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself in this situation: cruising down the highway, you come upon a car camping out in the left lane, the driver seemingly oblivious to his responsibility to move into the right lane of traffic.

I think we’ve all been there, staring at the bumper of a clueless motorist (And maybe some of us can admit that we, too, have forgotten to get over).

But here’s the bottom line: left lane camping is illegal.

Troopers do pull over motorists for hanging out in the left lane. They’re often met with this answer: “I didn’t realize it was against the law.”

The state law is quite clear. RCW 46.61.100, section 4 states “It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic.”

Here’s the rules, the state patrol said in a press release:

Washington State’s Keep Right Law requires all vehicles stay to the right except to pass and the left lane is used primarily as a passing lane when there are two or more lanes moving in the same direction.  All vehicles towing trailers or vehicles over 10,000 pounds are prohibited from using the left lane when there are three or more lanes moving in the same direction.

“We understand it can be frustrating for drivers when you have other motorists camped out in the left lane,” said WSP Captain Ron Rupke, District 5 commander.  “But this also doesn’t mean motorists can drive in an aggressive manner or use the left lane to speed.”

Slower moving vehicles traveling in the left lane create unsafe conditions which can include:
•  Causing other drivers to make dangerous passes on the right side.
•  Frustration with the left lane drivers leading to aggressive driving.
•  Slower response time for emergency vehicles responding to collisions or calls for service.

Allowing faster moving traffic to pass is always the best choice.  Frustrated drivers that travel in an aggressive manner often choose to weave in and out of cars that travel “too slow” by their standards.  Remember that if a driver chooses to exceed the speed limit in the left lane it is much easier for troopers to stop them for the violation if the slower moving vehicles are not in the left lane.

The law for left lane travel (RCW 46.61.100 – Keep right except for passing) states it is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic.  The left lane does not include high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.  The fine for failure to keep right except for passing is $124.

When there are three or more lanes moving in the same direction, additional restrictions are placed upon all vehicles towing trailers or vehicles over 10,000 pounds.  These vehicles are prohibited from using the left lane except to prepare for a left turn at an intersection or exit ramp.  These restrictions do not apply to a vehicle using an HOV lane.  The HOV lane is not considered the left-hand lane of a roadway.  The fine for illegal use of the left lane is $124.

On certain stretches of interstate freeways and state highways, speed limits are posted for passenger cars and trucks.  The word “trucks” on signs giving notice to maximum speed limits means vehicles over 10,000 pounds and all vehicles in combination.  This restriction applies to all vehicles towing a trailer regardless of the size of vehicle or trailer (RCW 46.61.410).  Fines for speeding are based on miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

14 thoughts on “Trooper tackles left-lane ‘camping’ head on

  1. Few know that a vehicle is required to keep right except when passing or avoiding an obstruction in the roadway – even on a multilane highway. Inconsiderate operators should be penalized.

  2. Pat, I think most know, but don’t care. I am one of those, when the road is busy and I am in the left lane traveling above the speed limit, I really don’t care if someone is tailgating me wanting to do 80.

  3. Yes, lane campers are out there, but in driving some 250 miles per day on all kinds of roads for the past 3 years as a courier, my observation is that it is high speed, aggressive tailgaters and lane changers who are the cause of the vast majority of accidents. My hope is that the fines for this ignorant,dangerous, always in a hurry driving go way up and enforcement increases. These tailgating fools don’t care what lane you’re in or what road conditions exist. They don’t even realize they are only getting somewhere seconds ahead of when they would have arrived driving safely.

  4. If I’m going faster than the cars in the right lane, do I have to slow down to move over if someone else wants to go faster than me?

    Also, do you ever notice that people in the right lane speed up as you are passing them?

  5. Dustin…’ll care if its a police vehicle and you get papered……peoples driving style gives a lot of insight into they’re over all personality.

  6. Also the driver “camping” in the left lane may be doing the speed limit or slightly better but depending on the speed and the sheer size and volume of traffic in the right lane, the farther traffic stacks up behind the “camper” its gets slower and slower eventually falling well below the speed limit for no reason other than the “camping” individuals self righteous, pig headed “I am doing what I think is proper, who cares about anyone else” attitude.

    Also traffic needs to flow so that vehicles can move in and out of traffic for on and off ramps and around much slower moving loaded trucks or slower vehicles in the right lane. When everyone is stacked up behind the “camper” spaces for people to move in and out completely disappear which is very unsafe. “Campers” are just high stake game players that like to gamble with everyone else’s lives. Let the WSP busting begin.

  7. Dustin–you are the problem! It’s OK for you to break the law, but not the guy behind you who wants to go faster; get real & learn how to drive!

  8. Why would someone be stacked up behind a “camper” that is already exceeding the speed limit? So what do you want, Colleen? “Campers” doing 65 in a 60 to move over so people can do what? 70? 80? 90? Your comment makes no sense. This isn’t Germany.

  9. Because Marvin, traffic gets heavier as more people enter the roadway. I travel five days a week between Bremerton and Poulsbo and back. More traffic enters the roadway between these two points than exits it on a typical commute day. As more traffic enters in gets slower and slower and when individuals do not or cannot move over to allow traffic to enter and/or occasionally exit or go around a certain amount of heavily loaded industrial vehicles moving in the right lane at a much slower rate of speed. “Campers” that do not complete a pass and move over, no matter what their speed, cause an unneeded increase in congestion and overall slower speeds because they restrict the flow. And yes, there are times where you are allowed to speed up when passing or to make room for vehicles that need to enter or exit. I am well aware this is not Germany Marvin.

  10. well lets see i travel 125 to 180 miles a day for work ! and lets see from poulsbo to gigharbor where the car pool lane starts, i have never traveled any other freeway in the country, that had MORE CAMPERS IN THE PASSING LANE then in this 36 miles of road! my take 90% older people! normaly female gender! 5% 40-50 yr old female gender! and the other 5% Just ignorent DUMB drivers that dont care! It is about time some one did something ! if your doing 65 passing someone to merge over is ok but if u are just cruzing 61 in the fast lane looking at the car in the slow lane for 10 miles maybe u should move your butt over ! fed up driver in kitsap!

  11. I have noticed a lot of drivers in the State of Washington don’t know how to merge onto the Freeway As show in this Youtube Video ( I have also seen a lot of Washington Drivers wait until a lane dead ends and tries to merge in at the Last Minute like it is shown in this Youtube video ( in which nearly everyone just ignores the Road Signs leading up to the 3/304 Interchange Causing a Traffic Jam at Well below the posted Speed Limit. Then you have drivers who cutoff other drivers in order to get a head like as shown in this Youtube Video ( I have also seen drivers in this state cutting off other drivers almost causing an accident in order to exit the freeway at the last minute. And even drivers who cut the safe breaking distance in half as seen in this Youtube video ( as well as no turn signal. So their is a State law requiring “SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT” as it is clearly posted on Highway 3 in 2 spots. Just south of the 3/308 (Bangor) Interchange for southbound traffic, and another for Northbound Traffic between Austin Drive and Chico Way Exits. If only Washington Drivers would just follow the posted Road Signs. Not to mention the Drivers who drive below the Posted Speed Limit in the right lane who merge into the left lane and not pick up the pace to the posted speed limit or slightly above with no one in front of them.

  12. Colleen, Traffic Entering the Freeway are trying to Merge a 35 Mile Per Hour Vehicle onto a 60 Mile Per Hour Freeway and this is what is causing Traffic on the Freeway to Slow Down Causing a Traffic jam. I know the Video I am show is State 16 onto I-5 ( but it still shows what I am talking about. Drivers entering onto a Freeway have to Yield to traffic already on the freeway. When entering you rapidly increase speed to the posted speed limit and when exiting the freeway you reduce your speed for surface speed limits.
    Campers in the left lane who are traveling below the posted speed limit are required to remain in the right lane unless the right lane is to come to an End like it does in Poulsbo to the North and Bremerton to the South where you have the following road signs “THRU TRAFFIC KEEP LEFT” and “LANE ENDS 3/4 MILE MERGE LEFT”.

  13. Like it or, at any speed it is illegal to drive in the left lane on any interstatein any state. This has been law since 1974. It is a moving violation, same as speeding 10 mph over speed limit.

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