Impeding the passing lane, like speeding, means ticket

I recently attended traffic school where you were the instructor. You related a story that has me confused. You described following a person on Highway 62 who was driving the speed limit in the left lane. Several cars passed the two of you on the right, yet you pulled over the person driving the speed limit in the left lane for not moving to the right lane.

My question is two parts: Why didn't you pursue the speeders that were breaking the speed limit in the right lane? Does this imply that it is OK to speed as long as you are in the left lane when you are doing it? — Michael Fowell, Central Point

Yes, the story you remember is what happened. In recap, I followed a driver who stayed in the left lane from Shasta Avenue in Eagle Point until beyond Avenue G in White City and never showed any intent to turn left. He did indeed get passed by a couple other vehicles in the right lane, showing me that he was the slower driver. By the way, not too long after leaving Eagle Point we passed a white sign with black lettering (meaning an enforceable law) stating "Slower Traffic Keep Right."

To answer your first question, what I might not have elaborated on in class was that the vehicles that passed him weren't going much more than 5 mph over the speed limit, they weren't just flying by him at 15-20 mph over the speed limit. In that case I would have gone after them. These drivers were only slightly faster than him, but they were driving faster.

As far as I can remember back I've never cited anyone for doing 5 mph over the speed limit. My usual stop starts at 15-plus mph over the speed limit on basic speed roads or the freeway.

Drivers hogging the left lane really irritate other drivers — in full disclosure, me included — and lead to people making poor passing decisions or even road-rage situations, so I think this is an important law to enforce. Enforcing the law is done via the statute for failing to obey a traffic control device — remember the white sign with black letters.

By the way, there is a bill now working its way through the Legislature that is going to prohibit left-lane driving except when passing. I can't say that I'd personally like that law since I'm a big left-lane driver. However, I watch my mirrors and always move to the right when I see a faster vehicle coming up behind me.

Your second question is an easy one, no, I don't see any implication that speeding is condoned just because you're in the left lane.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a regular Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email

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