If you drive slower than the speed limit, you could get a speeding ticket. Well, that is if Spokane’s Sen. Michael Baumgartner has his way.
“The slower they drive, the higher the fine,” Baumgartner’s office said in a press release posted by the Herald. “It’s the same way speeding tickets work, but in reverse.”
So it’s illegal to go faster than the speed limit and, under this new bill, illegal to go slower than the speed limit. So the only way to obey the law in the left lane would be to go the exact speed limit.
Now, I have to believe that the Senator is simply trying to bring attention to the issue of people camping out in the left lane on highways. It’s a funny idea to give people tickets for driving under the speed limit, and he has certainly caught our attention.
The law already says you have to stay right except to pass. So if you’re in the left lane (except if HOV), you should be passing someone. But a lot of people don’t seem to get this, and this is a major trigger for people’s road rage. Baumgartner said left lane campers are “forcing other drivers to slam on their brakes, tailgate or weave around them to the right.”
Because there’s this paradox on our highways in which people so strongly expect to be able to drive 5–10 mph over the limit, and get frustrated when someone is obeying the speed limit. But at least when those rebels are staying right while obeying the law, others can pass them. That’s why people obeying the speed limit in the left lane is so annoying to so many people, you can’t pass them.
This video is a great illustration of the problem. Look what happens when people drive next to each other on all lanes of an LA freeway, then slow down to the speed limit:
I find there is a direct correlation between my happiness and how little time I spend on freeways. I feel awful for people who have to use them every day. We can make city streets better, safer and more social spaces. But the only solutions I know to urban freeways is to provide quality alternatives like regional bike routes and high capacity transit.
Well, and tear down the ones we don’t need, of course:
Here’s Baumgartner’s press release:
State Sen. Michael Baumgartner is taking aim at the road hogs who get into the fast lane — and just poke along.
In a bill introduced late last week in Olympia, the Spokane Republican proposes that left-lane drivers who drive slower than the speed limit be slapped with special penalties, when they drive continuously in the left lane and impede traffic. The slower they drive, the higher the fine. It’s the same way speeding tickets work, but in reverse.
“How often have you found yourself stuck in slow-moving freeway traffic because someone is hogging the fast lane?” Baumgartner asks. “If you drive back and forth on the freeways from Spokane to Olympia the way I do, you can’t help thinking there ought to be a law.”
Already the state of Washington makes it a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane highway, when it impedes the flow of traffic. The left lane is supposed to be used only for passing, moving aside for merging traffic, or preparing for a left turn.
Baumgartner says too many motorists haven’t gotten the message. So his bill, SB 6105, creates a new traffic offense of aggravated left-lane driving. In addition to the $124 fine for continuous left lane driving, a slowpoke could be slapped with additional penalties. They would start at $27 for one-to-five miles under the speed limit, and rise to $67 for 16-to-20 miles an hour under the limit.
“Poky left-lane drivers aren’t just a nuisance,” Baumgartner said. “They’re a safety hazard, forcing other drivers to slam on their brakes, tailgate or weave around them to the right. You can recognize them by the long line of frustrated drivers you’ll find right behind them. There ought to be a penalty for that sort of obliviousness.”