Traffic Q&A: Move to right lane even if you think other guy’s speeding

Staff writerDecember 22, 2013 

Question: You recently had a Traffic Q&A article concerning slow traffic in the left-hand lane (Nov. 25: “Slowpokes in left lanes can get ticket”). The response was that one could get a traffic ticket for driving in the left lane.

I have a comment and a question concerning the response.  

Signs along the highway state: “Slower traffic keep right.”

My question is, what if the driver in the left lane is driving at the speed limit or, say, one to five miles per hour over the speed limit? Could that driver still get a traffic ticket for driving in the left lane?

At that speed the vehicle is not a slow-driving vehicle.

I appreciate your thoughts or authority response. — Jim Williams, Puyallup

Answer: If you’re cruising along in the left lane at or slightly above the speed limit and there are no other vehicles around, chances are minimal that you’re going to get a ticket.

State law (RCW 46.61.100) says it’s a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway “when it impedes the flow of other traffic.”

What that means is, if you’re going slower than the guy behind you, or slower than the traffic to your right, you’re supposed to move over.

In addition to the sign you mention, you’ll often see another one that puts it better: “Keep right except to pass.”

It’s a matter of relative speed, not absolute speed. If you’re going 70 mph and the guy behind wants to go 75, you still need to get over and let him by — even if, in your opinion, he’s going too fast.

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