By Pat Grubb
While there may not be many four-lane highways or state patrol cars in Point Roberts, drivers venturing north into B.C. and into Washington state proper should be aware that police in both jurisdictions are placing emphasis on left lane violators.
Those are the people who merrily dawdle along in the left lane when the right lane is wide open, causing backups and frustration to drivers behind them. The left lane is strictly a passing lane and even if you’re going the speed limit and don’t think you need to move over for someone who wants to go faster than you, think again – you’re breaking the law both in B.C. and Washington state.
Many Washington state drivers are unaware that driving in the left lane for extended periods of time can be against the law. The left lane is designed to operate as a passing lane. In order to combat this problem, Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste announced the WSP is conducting a statewide emphasis patrol during March, to bring increased awareness to the left lane law.
State troopers will focus their efforts on locating and stopping left lane violators. Last year, the WSP stopped 13,909 left lane law violators.
According to the law, RCW 46.61.100(2), upon all roadways having two or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction, all vehicles shall be driven in the right hand lane then available for traffic, except for overtaking and passing another vehicle in the same direction, when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow, when moving left to allow traffic to merge or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection, exit or into a private road or driveway when such left turn is legally permitted.
At the beginning of March, B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced he was planning to introduce legislation to stiffen police’s already existing ability to ticket drivers who “park” in the left lane and prevent other drivers from passing. Stone described such drivers as more than nuisances, saying that the failure to keep right is the cause of many collisions in B.C. according to police and insurance reports.
A CBC poll taken March 3 showed 81 percent of respondents said yes, people needed to obey the left lane law, 5 percent said no, everyone should slow down and 13 percent said only those going well under the speed limit should move over.