Our Northwest

Fewer left-lane campers? I’m skeptical

Wednesday, February 17, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

Here I go, right foot forward, stepping up a little … there. I’m now standing firmly on my soapbox.
     Left-lane campers, listen up: I’m calling you out for being the rogue rascals of our roadways that you are.
     I’m talking to those scoundrels who steer into the passing lane, entrench themselves, and drive at precisely the speed limit while refusing to move over. Even when the right lane is deserted.
     Those people are breaking the law, and they’re far too common.
     I’m surprised that our new PEMCO Poll reveals Washington drivers see left-lane camping less often now than five years ago. That's not been my experience commuting on SR 520 every weekday.
     It’s true. Our latest poll says 83% of Washington and Oregon drivers witness left-lane campers obstructing traffic “often” or “sometimes.” But in Washington, fewer drivers see it often now than in 2011, down from 49% to 35%.
     The thing that amuses me is, like past PEMCO Polls that examined bad driving habits, not many drivers admit to ever camping in the passing lane themselves – just 12%.
     Of those who do, drivers under age 35 admit to it about twice as much as drivers 35 and older, 20% versus 9%.
     What left-lane campers don’t understand or choose to ignore is that Washington’s “Keep right except to pass” law applies to all cars in the passing lane, even those traveling at the speed limit – or higher.
     If you take root in the left lane and impede cars behind you, that’s illegal, unless you’re in the act of passing a slower car. (That doesn’t mean intending to pass a car that’s still a quarter-mile ahead of you.)
     State troopers have conducted “emphasis patrols” recently to crack down on violators. It’s a safety issue. Frustrated drivers who get stuck behind will often weave to the right to pass, or worse, frustration swells into road rage.
     Most people around here believe left-lane camping is a regional quirk – 34% say it happens more in the Northwest than in other areas, versus 12% who say it happens less here. Learn more in our news release, and see how Northwest drivers answered our poll.

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Comments on this post

personCS02/19/2016 03:07 PM
^^^ Regarding the Car Pool lane... The Car Pool lane was designed so vehicles with multiple occupants CAN DRIVE FASTER than the rest of the traffic, thereby rewarding those commuters who carpool. If you are carpooling and you would like to drive more slowly than the fastest traffic, then GET OUT OF THE CARPOOL LANE. You are totally missing the point of the carpool lane. Yes, we get it, you are carpooling, but that doesn't mean you should drive slowly in what is meant to be a faster lane for cars with multiple occupants. This is common sense in most parts of the US.

This is definitely a Pacific NW thing, as when I traveled a good bit in OR and WA, I couldn't believe how many cars were driving SLOWLY in the carpool lane, often in Priuses or other vehicles. I've even heard that argument made (it's the carpool lane, not the fast lane...). Talk about missing the point of Carpool lanes!
personL. C.02/19/2016 08:39 AM
You ought to mention that this does not apply to the carpool lane which is usually when one, leftmost on the road. People who drive in the HOV lane are under no obligation to get out of that lane into the actual fast lane if someone wishes to pass them.

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