Utah drivers livid over left lane loafers, police say slow drivers must move over

Posted at 10:08 PM, Nov 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-21 00:08:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- You're driving on the freeway, in the left lane, and are stuck behind a driver who won't move over; there's a law in place to keep this from happening, but it seems many drivers don't know about it and those who do are frustrated.

Not only is being stuck behind that left lane driver frustrating, but Utah Highway Patrol troopers said it causes traffic congestion, road rage and accidents.

Call them left lane loafers. They won't move over when you want to pass.

"Oh that's so frustrating! Please, move over," said Celeste Delrio.

Darek Peterson said, "Outraged, I wish I could have a bumper on the front of my car and kind of push them off to the side."

Lt. Jeff Nigbur with the Utah Highway Patrol told FOX 13 News, "There is a state statute that requires all people in the left lane move over a lane if somebody, a faster vehicle comes up upon them."

The state law is clear, and on the Utah State Legislature website, it states, "...the operator of a vehicle traveling in the left general purpose lane shall, upon being overtaken by another vehicle in the same lane, yield to the overtaking vehicle by moving safely to the lane to the right and may not impede the movement or free flow of traffic in the left general purpose lane."

The law was passed in 2008, and the signs are clear. They are posted along the left side of the freeway and they say: "It's the Law. Slower traffic keep right."

But it's six years later, and we found drivers who are still dealing with left lane loafers who refuse to move over and they're fed up.

Robert Ford said, "They got their driver's license out of a Cracker Jack's box or something."

Susan Lawrence added, "A lot of people say there’s no such thing as a fast lane, but there’s something called being a courteous driver."

So why do so many drivers break the left lane law? Lt. Nigbur chalks it up to attention issues.

"They’ll be paying attention to the road in front of them and what’s going on in front of them, yet they’ll be 10 or 12 cars behind them and they’re not aware of it," he said. "Yes we do see it once in a while where they feel it’s their right and/or job as a citizen to sit in that number one lane, that fast lane, and slow traffic down."

In fact, the left lane is such a hot topic we found numerous websites focused on just that. There's a website educating drivers about lane courtesy, another dedicated to reducing traffic congestion by using the road efficiently, and another website called Left Lane Drivers Unite that sells windshield decals telling that driver in front of you to move over.

Lt. Nigbur stated that left lane loafers do cause serious problems on Utah's highways.

"That backs up the freeway, so car after car will come up in that fast lane and will pile up cars--five, six, seven, eight, nine, cars in that fast lane." He continues, "You know as well as I do if we have one crash out there on the freeway we’ve got typically a mile or two of backup and it causes problems for everybody."

We've heard the frustrations from other drivers out there who have dealt with this problem, but FOX 13 News wanted to see the problem first hand. Just minutes on the freeway and the problem is clear. Despite having plenty of space, the driver in front took nearly two minutes before moving to the right.

Would the problem be the same in a police car? We rode along with a Utah Highway Patrol trooper to find out. It wasn't long before we ran into left lane offenders.

Trooper Brady Zaugg pulled over driver after driver, and each time informed them, "When a vehicle behind you approaches at a faster rate of speed you’re supposed to move to the right and let them pass when you’re in the left-most lane."

We asked one driver if he knew why he was stopped.

Paden Bigelow said, "I was in the farthest left lane and a car, a cop car, pulled up behind me and I didn’t yield over and so I got pulled over."

He admitted, until then, he didn't know about the law, "I just thought ‘Oh I’m not going above the speed limit so I don’t have to move' so I didn’t."

Utah is one of six states that requires drivers to move over if they are blocking traffic. Five other states have weak or no left lane laws. For 10 states, the left lane is only for passing and turning. Twenty-nine states require drivers to move to the right if they are driving slower than normal traffic.

Another problem we ran into is drivers towing trailers in the left lane. That is also illegal on Utah's freeways. Troopers said the added trailer, no matter the size, typically means slower speeds and potential hazards.

FOX 13 News is not aware of any plans to amend the current left lane law or propose new laws to address the left lane.