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UHP cracking down on fast-lane coasters

By Jed Boal | Posted - Jan 31st, 2013 @ 10:47pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Does it bug you when you have to slow down behind a driver in the fast lane and they won't move over, even if they're going the speed limit? If it does, you're not alone.

"We have received a number of complaints, and we do see this as a growing trend," said John Gleason, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers are now keeping an eye out for slowpokes in the fast lane.

UHP Sgt. Jeff Nigbur says slow drivers in the fast lane not only frustrate most other motorists, they can even cause hazards.

"It does get kind of frustrating when you're trying to do the speed limit and somebody is in the left-hand lane going significantly slower," Nigbur said.

New signs that read "It's the Law: Slow Traffic Keep Right" are going up on the interstates of the Wasatch Front, and troopers will keep their eyes open for motorists impeding traffic.

If you like the fast lane but don't keep moving, a state trooper may pull you over and tell you why impeding traffic in the left lane is dangerous.

Utah Traffic Code:
41-6a-704. Overtaking and passing vehicles proceeding in same direction

...(2) On a highway having more than one lane in the same direction, the operator of a vehicle traveling in the left general purpose lane:

(a) shall, upon being overtaken by another vehicle in the same lane, yield to the overtaking vehicle by moving safely to a lane to the right; and

(b) may not impede the movement or free flow of traffic in the left general purpose lane. ...

"You'll get eight, nine, 10 cars that are backed up in the fast lane. That begins to promote following too close," Nigbur said.

Tailgating leads to crashes.

"Then that backs up the freeway, it causes secondary crashes, and that's what we see every day in rush hour: the freeway is backed up for 2 miles," Nigbur said.

"Impeding traffic sometimes causes road rage scenarios as well," he added.

Troopers say drivers should check the rear-view mirror from time to time so they can see when another car is coming up on them quickly, or one that's riding their tail. Above all, remember it's not your job to slow that motorist down even if you think he or she is speeding.

Impeding traffic was already a violation when, in 2007, the Utah Legislature added this to the law: "An operator of a vehicle traveling the left general purpose lane shall, upon being overtaken by another vehicle in the same lane, yield to the overtaking vehicle by moving safely to the right."

"It just comes down to being courteous to the drivers around you," Nigbur said.

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