Foundations 9 7 0
Life in the Left Lane
W e all have different opinions of how drivers should use the left lane of the interstate or highway. However, while we may have our opinions, the law is clear — a law that many drivers often misunderstand, if not outright ignore. Here’s an all-too-common scenario: You’re driving down the I-25 in moderate traffic. You’re in the right lane and traffic begins to slow. So, you move into the left lane to pass. A few seconds later, traffic in the right lane eases, and now the left lane is moving slower. All of a sudden, cars in the right lane are now approaching rapidly, passing your vehicle. They’re dangerously maneuvering from the right lane into the passing lane in front of you, weaving through traffic. The law in Colorado is clear. The left lane is for passing and the right lane is for normal driving. Colorado State Patrol claims they made over 4,000 stops last year for left-lane violations. In fact, our state has had a left-lane law on the books since 2004. The law, C.R. 42-4-1013 (1), states “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed limit is 65 mph or more unless such person is passing other motor vehicles that are in a non-passing lane, or turning left, or unless the volume of traffic does not permit the motor vehicle to safely merge into a non-passing lane.” While some states are more lenient when it comes to driving in the left lane, Colorado tends to take it seriously. The passing lane law was written with the intent of mitigating traffic-flow conflicts and aggressive driving. The problem is, crash rates in the state continue to escalate.
At VanMeveren Law Group, we’ve seen firsthand a dramatic increase in calls from prospective clients who have been injured while traveling on our state’s highways. The details are often the same: There was a rapid slowdown or stop in the flow of traffic and an aggressive or inattentive driver was unable to avoid a collision with the rear of a slowing or stopped vehicle. Though texting is a primary cause of many of these high-speed collisions — and reducing cellphone usage while driving may help mitigate collisions — more stringent enforcement and education by the CSP would also help minimize the number of traffic flow conflicts caused by left-lane violators. At the same time, stiffer penalties for violations would also get the attention of motorists who insist on driving in the left lane, regardless of the situation. Current penalties include a $35 citation and three points against the violator’s Colorado driver’s license. Just remember, if you are driving in the left lane, at or below the speed limit, you may be in violation of the law unless you are intending to pass. CSP has the exclusive responsibility to initiate appropriate enforcement to mitigate flow conflicts, and you could see yourself stuck with a citation.
~ Bryan VanMeveren
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