Some thoughts on left-lane ‘campers’

The in basket: PEMCO regularly turns out press releases about how drivers in Washington state view certain issues on the roads. Most recently it has polled them on what it calls  “the ever loathed left-lane camper.”

“Though this culprit is a common source of commuter frustration,” the company said in a news release, “the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance shows that while drivers regularly witness this lane-hogging behavior, it may be declining.

“In Washington, where it is illegal to camp in the left lane, the poll finds that fewer drivers witness left-lane camping today compared to 2011,” it said. Forty-nine percent  said they often witnessed left-lane camping in 2011, while 35 percent say the same today.

“While offenses may be declining, the poll reveals that there is room for education, with 47 percent of Washington drivers unaware of the left lane camping law,” the company said.

It continues with a peculiarity involving our neighbors to the south. “In Oregon, lawmakers have proposed legislation that would make left-lane camping illegal in that state, but the bill has yet to be approved. Surprisingly, 52 percent of Oregon drivers believe such a law already exists.”

It does exist in Washington, and affects not just left-lane campers driving below the speed limit. If they’re entrenched in the left lane and impeding traffic behind them, regardless of their speed, the law says they must move over: ‘Keep right except to pass,’” notes the news release.

The out basket: Long before 2011, I opined that it’s not all that difficult to get around a left-lane camper by passing them in the right lane, which is legal despite some ambiguity in the laws on the subject.

And a little mind trick can help you keep your temper. Say you’re unable to get around a left-lane camper for five minutes, much longer than normally the case. You haven’t been delayed five minutes, but only the amount of time it would have taken you to travel the extra distance you could have had you been able to go the speed you wanted. That’s usually just seconds.

Though the PEMCO release suggests that ignorance of the keep-right-except-to-pass law is the basic reason for the behavior, I think it’s fear of what may be in the blind spot just to the right and behind the driver, or fear of taking one’s eyes off the road to check, especially when visibility is poor.

7 thoughts on “Some thoughts on left-lane ‘campers’

  1. Problem with left lane campers is the fact that most of them do it on purpose just for the sake of doing it. And then if you come up behind them, they will brake check you and flip you off. Of course most of them don’t know the law, that the left lane is for passing only and even though there are sign all over the state, most drivers don’t ever look at any signs out there unless it is their exit. But at the same time most drivers here don’t know that it is legal to pass on the right and they will camp out right behind a left lane campers getting raged. Legally the speed limit is posted, but you ask any trooper and they will tell you they give 10 over on the highways, but that does not mean that even though someone is doing 10 over, that they should stay in the left lane because they are driving faster than the posted speed. Once you pass the cars, get over. Unless more tickets are issued and the judges actually fine the drivers and not throw out the tickets, very few drivers will get over. Troopers know that judges throw out their tickets for driving in the left lane, so why should they waste their time.

  2. Another thing I would like to say is , drivers are going to speed. There is nothing we can do about it except get out of the way and let the troopers and cops stop them from speeding. So stop trying to be civilian troopers out there on the highway. Because all it causes is road rage and traffic jams. And if you don’t believe it, look everyday outside your car while you are in a traffic jam. And as a speeder flys by you because you want to camp in the left lane and they cuss and flip you off and throw things at your vehicle or they cut you off and brake check you or they even pull a gun on you because you thought you have every right to slow down the flow of traffic in the left lane, think about it if a now left lane road rager who causes something bad to happen to you and your family, is it worth the heartache and hurt if you are involved in a bad accident now, when all you had to do was get over into the right lane where we are supposed to drive anyways.

    I drive fast, about 10 over, but I also drive in the right lane and have no problem letting someone who is driving faster than me to just go by, because in about 2 minutes they will be out of my site. And I don’t have to be angry as I drive and I don’t have to worry that in the next few minutes of my drive, I might end up a casualty. Drive safe and smart and obey those signs that say Left lane for passing and slower traffic keep right, etc.

  3. Most of the time, the people in the left lane are just clueless. When I finally get past them, they are looking straight ahead and don’t even notice my dirty look. They never look in the rear-view mirror so they have no idea that anyone is behind them. They drive in the left lane because it is really easy. Nobody ever gets in their way so they never have to worry about changing lanes. From their perspective, traffic is clear all they way to their destination.

  4. Wait, WHAT? I could of sworn the Road Warrior told me I was wrong about it being illegal to camp in the left lane. Even after I pointed out the fact of the all the white signs with black lettering (these are laws not suggestions, stay right except to pass….) all along our hwys…

    Anyways, glad to see the truth printed finally.

  5. I’d like to add, it’s extremely dangerous (and against the law) to change lanes (in or out of “the fast lane”) without using your turn signal to indicate to your intent to change lanes. Pay attention people!

  6. Some people left lane camp because they feel that lane is safer. You don’t have to deal with cars entering or exiting the highway.

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