Slower traffic keep right

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Indiana legislators passed a law this year to allow the police to ticket drivers for camping out in the left lane.

Drive anywhere in this state and you will soon realize such a law is needed. Many have forgotten about “slower traffic keep right.” It’s a law that’s been on the books for years and covered in the state driver’s manual. Here’s Indiana Code 9-21-8-2(b).

Roadways; use of right half; exceptions; traveling at reduced speeds Note: This version of section effective 1-1-2015. See also preceding version of this section, effective until 1-1-2015. Sec. 2. (a) Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway except as follows: (1) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing overtaking and passing. (2) When the right half of a roadway is closed to traffic under construction or repair. (3) Upon a roadway divided into three (3) marked lanes for traffic under the rules applicable to a roadway divided into three (3) marked lanes. (4) Upon a roadway designated and signposted for one-way traffic. (b) Upon all roadways, a vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under the conditions then existing shall be driven: (1) in the right-hand lane then available for traffic; or (2) as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway; except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. (c) Upon all roadways, a motor driven cycle shall be driven as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

When the change was announced, many took to social media to vent their frustration. “This gives people the license to speed,” they cried. “I’m going to drive the speed limit in the left lane” others threatened. Others wanted to run what-if scenarios “So this means I can go over the speed limit when I am passing?” The comments gave the impression of clueless drivers.

The framing of the issue did not help. Reports from The Associated Press, the Indianapolis Star and the various television stations also depicted the issue has “speeders versus law-abiding citizens.” Worse, the majority of the stories did not include the actual language of the law (or a link to it) or mention that slower traffic keep right has always been in Indiana code. People frequently misinterpret laws. It doesn’t help when the media does a poor job of explaining them.

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From my home to downtown Indianapolis, I drive about 52 miles on I-69 for my commute. I sue to do this five days a week but I am now down to two, thanks goodness. I-69 is one of the busiest in the state. I try to cruise at 80 mph (the speed limit is 70). Yes, technically I am speeding but it is very rare I even reach 70.

Why?

  • Semis have a separate speed limit of 65 mph. When one passes another, it becomes a story problem on a SAT test. How long will it take one semi going 70 mph to pass one traveling at 65 mph? The answer is about ten minutes and ten miles. Traffic backs up behind the passing semi. A lot of traffic.
  • Vehicles and drivers are often camped out in the left passing lane when they are distracted. I wish I had a dollar for every driver I observed¬† yakking on the phone or taking a smoke break. Hang up and drive, pal.
  • Most interstates here in the “Crossroads of America” are just two lanes in one direction. They have not kept up with truck capacity. If a lane is clogged by a semi passing, an emergency vehicle stop,¬† road construction, capacity is reduced by 50 percent. Bam, instant jam.
  • Trucks with trailers use right lane? Forget about it. If you are driving a U-Haul or a truck with a trailer, perhaps you shouldn’t be in the left lane. It is unsafe for you to be going 70 mph. If you are driving a car with a a spare tire on it, you aso should be in the right lane.

I’m waiting to for the ultimate left lane obstacle: A U-Haul truck pulling a trailer . The trailer should have a big lawnmower, several bags of leaves blowing all over the place, and a doughnut tire for one of the wheels. With my luck, the driver will also be using a cell phone and having a smoke.

 

Published by Scott Davis

Former newspaper journalist, now government webmaster. Life-long geek.