Tag Archives: keep right

WSP uses YouTube to warn “left-lane campers”

The in basket: Robin Henderson e-mailed to ask if I’d seen the video produced by Washington State Patrol on YouTube, informing its viewers of this state’s legal requirement to stay out of the left lane of multi-lane highways if you aren’t passing a slower-moving vehicle. You can be ticketed for “camping out in the left lane,” as that’s often called.

“Heh, heh,” Robin said, “I’d like to mount a projector on my dash so I could play the video in the rear view mirror of the guy in front of me camped in the left lane.”

The image atop this column, from an e-mail my cousin sent me, expresses the same sentiment.

The in basket: I had seen the video, just the day before, when I got a WSP news release about it. You can see it at www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tIA2pueFMh4.

I don’t get too exercised about left lane campers, many of whom I think aren’t so much inconsiderate as genuinely afraid to confront the blind spot challenge that moving right presents. I usually can use the right lane to get around them quickly enough.

Even I find changing lanes to the right frightening on a crowded three- or four-lane urban freeway at night, more so since 2000 when I had neck surgery.

But I make it a point to move right if the driver behind me makes it clear he wants past by moving up on me, even if I’m going over the speed limit.

My wife, The Judybaker, is one who won’t move right for a car coming up on her from behind if she is doing the speed limit in the left lane and the traffic to her right is traveling slower than the limit. Of course, by definition, she then would be passing slower moving traffic and would be legal. But it still might irritate drivers behind her who want to exceed the speed limit, and probably would consider her a left-lane camper.

If the right lane traffic also is doing the speed limit, so she’s just pacing them, she could be risking a ticket. Or risk being stopped and warned, which the video says is a frequent result.

The video says there are exceptions to the rule, but doesn’t list them. They are when preparing to exit the highway to the left or to allow the merging of another vehicle, such as at a freeway on-ramp.

I urge those who get angry at left-lane campers ahead of them to make the following mental calculation. If you’re stuck behind such a driver for two minutes, you haven’t been delayed two minutes. You’ve been delayed only as long as it takes you to make up the distance you would have traveled at your preferred speed compared to the speed you were forced to travel. It’s usually a few seconds. If you won’t miss a ferry, you can live with it.