ROAD TEST – How Dare I Drive in the Left Lane!
Let me preface this by saying people just need to slow down. But, I think it would be easier to get Republicans and Democrats to agree on climate change than to get people to plan five extra minutes to get where they’re going.
My evening commute is down Highway Ten to Becker. I’m never in a hurry, so I’m a bit of an oddity on the road. The problem comes as I approach Becker. I have to turn left. Off Highway 10. That means I need to be in the left lane.
In my experience, there’s a sizable segment of the population that believes it’s completely legal to go about Warp Factor 7 down Highway Ten, as long as they stay in the left lane. And if you happen to be in the left lane and only going a measly 70 miles per hour – may God have mercy on your soul.
I found it in the Driver’s Ed car too. Students ask what the speed limit is on the highway. I tell them the POSTED speed limit, and then they ask what the REAL limit is. The posted limit is the real limit. There’s no “wiggle room”, no seven-miles-per-hour over the speed limit exception. Nothing. If the speed limit is 65 miles per hour, you’re breaking the law by going 66.
So, I’m clearly in legal boundaries to travel in the left lane of a two-lane highway doing the posted speed limit. I’m under no obligation to move to the right to allow another driver to more easily break the law. Right?
The four- count them- four police officers I called would not directly answer that question. Instead, they refer me to the Minnesota State Statute:
169.18 DRIVING RULES.
(a) Upon a roadway with one lane in the direction of travel, a person proceeding at a speed that is sufficiently low as to create a traffic hazard, including when operating an animal-drawn vehicle upon a roadway or shoulder of a roadway, must operate the vehicle as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
(b) Upon a roadway with more than one lane in the same direction of travel, a person must move out of the leftmost lane to allow another vehicle to pass, when practicable under existing conditions. A left-most lane under this paragraph is the lane adjacent to one designated and posted for a specific type of traffic, including as provided under section 160.93. This paragraph does not apply when:
(1) overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
(2) preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
(3) preparing to exit a controlled-access highway on the left side of the road;
(4) the lane is designated and posted for a specific type of traffic; or
(5) the vehicle is an authorized emergency vehicle.
No wonder nobody can follow the traffic laws. They read like stereo instructions.
I’m not an attorney, but here’s how I read it. If I’m slowing down to take a left turn off Highway Ten, I can slow down in the left lane. The same rule applies to taking the J-Turn going Eastbound on Highway Ten out of Becker.
But the question remains: do I merge to the right just to give someone who’s already speeding the opportunity to speed more conveniently?
- Do I hold the door open for someone who’s just robbed a bank?
- Do I buy someone who’s already drunk “one more for the road”?
No, I do not. And if, in doing so, you scream at me so loudly that I can read your lips through my rear-view mirror, I don’t think the real problem has anything to do with my driving.
And, the next time you pass me on either side, wave with ALL your fingers. My kids are starting to ask questions.