Road Rage and the Left Lane Slow Poke

April 25th, 2016 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Everyone who has been on the highway has seen them — and maybe you’ve even been one yourself. We’re talking about the driver who loves driving in the passing lane even when he or she is going slower than everyone else. This is a leading cause of road rage, which can result in accidents, physical altercations and assaults. It’s best to use the left lane when you’re passing and using another lane when you’re not.

The travel website Expedia released a survey of the leading causes of road rage in 2015 and “The Left Lane Hog” came in third at 12%, just missing out to number two, “The Tailgater,” at 13%. The leading cause of road rage cited in this poll of 1,000 Americans asked to rank the behavior of their fellow motorists in order of aggravation was “The Texter,” at 26%.

It’s gotten to the point where you can be fined in some states if you’re in the left lane and forcing others to pass you on the right. As of last year, 38 states (not Kentucky) have laws in place to fine left-lane drivers more interested in seeing the sights than passing, according to CBS. Fines can range as high as $1,000 in Chicago, $500 in Indiana and $300 in New Jersey. Twenty-two states classify the violation as a misdemeanor; punishment can include up to a year in prison if convicted.

Kentucky’s law states that passing is to be done in the left lane (unless a streetcar is involved — then it’s legal to pass it on the left or right). In addition,

A vehicle shall not be driven in the left lane of any limited access highway of four (4) lanes or more with a posted speed limit of at least sixty-five (65) miles per hour, except in overtaking a slower vehicle, yielding to traffic coming onto such a highway, or when traffic conditions exist which would prohibit safe use of the right or center lanes.

  1. REV. STAT. ANN. §189.340(7)

Although no state wants its left lanes to be considered drag strips, a slower driver in a passing lane can disrupt the flow of traffic. Cars and trucks may be forced to pass in the right lane, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Also under Kentucky statutes, a driver is allowed to move from the left lane over to the center or right lane only when it’s safe to do so. If there’s a steady stream of speeding vehicles to the right of the left-lane occupier, it may not be safe to move over.

If you’re behind a sightseer in the left lane, what you should not do is follow too closely and tailgate. This may put both of you on the path to road rage (tailgating being the number two cause, according to the Expedia survey) and the person in front of you may refuse to move over but instead resort to “brake checking” to force you to back off. If you are too close to the vehicle, you may collide with it or lose control of your vehicle when you hit your brakes. The best thing to do is keep a safe distance and pass to the right when it’s safe to do so.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a driver improperly using the left lane in Kentucky, call the Julie Butcher Law Office at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form to talk about your case and your legal options.