Hello Master of the Roads: I went to a law firm's website and read about the law on impeding traffic in the left lane. It said that even if a driver was doing 73 and passing 18-wheelers on the right, she was impeding traffic if she had a line of drivers behind her wanting to go faster. She should have merged into the right lane between the 18-wheelers until the left lane was clear of faster cars. -- Lead foot
Dear Lead: Last week's column was about the scenario you describe above. Our answer -- weak, uninformed, and poorly written -- was that the driver was under no obligation to further break the law by further exceeding the speed limit. And the drivers behind should hold their horsepower.
Our conclusion came after examining Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-301, "Vehicles to be driven on right side of roadway, exceptions." One of those exceptions is "When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing that movement." We also considered the possibility of getting pulled over for speeding, which in this case seemed to us to be completely unfair, darn it.
This week we went to the wiser heads at the Arkansas State Police, specifically asking for guidance from the agency's esteemed public information officer, Bill Sadler. In addition to being esteemed, Sadler is venerable. We are personally venerable, but not necessarily esteemed.
Sadler notes that this issue is periodically debated in this space, yet the answer remains the same. Our driver, the one whose tail is being ridden by mad speedsters, should yield to the right and allow those cretins (our word, not his) to pass. He cites Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-302, "Roadways, divided into lanes." There are two parts to consider.
On any roadway of two or more lanes, a vehicle "should be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until the driver has first ascertained that movement can be made with safety ... "
And, "Official signs may be erected directing slower-moving traffic to use a designated lane or allocating specified lanes to traffic moving in the same direction, and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of every such sign."
We all know those signs, the yellow ones that tell slower traffic to move over for faster traffic.
Our driver being hounded by speed demons should safely merge back to the right lane, in among the big rigs, and wait her turn to get back into the fast lane.
Maybe this is mostly moot. The Department of Finance and Administration reports that the number of tickets issued for impeding traffic in the left lane were 421 in 2016, 363 in 2017, 264 in 2018 and 294 in 2019.
Those numbers, considering the volume of interstate traffic, strike us as minuscule.
Vanity plate seen in Little Rock: YKVETCH.