Is this you? You’re traveling down the left lane of the highway with your windows down, enjoying a beautiful Virginia day, singing along with your favorite playlist when suddenly you hear loud honking from behind. You look in your rear-view mirror and notice a not-so-nice gesture from the driver behind you. What’s wrong with this guy? Where’s the fire? Does he think he owns the road or something?
Whether you’re on Route I-81, I-95, or other Virginia interstate, there's a new fine focused on you. Commonwealth law already requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. But adding a new penalty behind it means Virginia law makers are more serious about enforcing slower drivers to stay out of the left lane. They understand the driving safety issues with speedy drivers weaving in and out of traffic to pass when the left lane is clogged.
Not to say speeding is not a more serious issue at all. Here at NNINS, we're very concerned about the growing number of traffic fatalities related to distracted driving, as well as impaired driving and speeding. In 2017, there were 815 deaths on Virginia roads- that's up from 705 in 2016, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Last year, the number of overall crash fatalities decreased for the first time since 2014, but still totaled to 819.
We also acknowledge obvious safety issues with drivers traveling under natural flowing traffic speeds on interstates, especially in a lane designated by Virginia law for passing. So here are 3 things to consider before you poke down the left lane: (If you think you're doing more of the honking, we have a blog post for you too!)
1. It’s the law.
Many Virginians don’t know it’s a law. And now you might get a pricey ticket for doing it possibly to the tune of a $100 fine for left lane dawdling. In fact, every state has “courtesy lane laws” and some, including Maryland, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, are passing similar legislature to enforce them with increased fines. Also, trucks driving in Virginia may not travel in the left-most lane of interstates with three or more lanes by direction when the speed limit is 65 mph or higher.
2. It’s safer.
Staying over to the right allows faster traffic to keep moving on the left and decreases chances of dangerous lane changes by those trying to get around slower drivers. Staying in the left lane to “teach a speeder a lesson” is bound to bring trouble, including road rage. It’s best to mind your own business and let officials enforce speed limits. You can always dial #77 on your mobile phone to report aggressive driving on any of Virginia’s interstates.
3. You’ll probably get there faster and feel better too.
Staying over in the right lanes will not only help you avoid the stress of aggressive drivers, it will also help you save on gas and may keep your car insurance rates lower. Plus, get this: research shows allowing faster traffic to move freely to the left helps to cut down on gridlock. And every Virginian would feel better about that!
Virginia lawmakers got it right with passing this new law and it will continue to make our roadways safer. By keeping slower traffic to the right and obeying posted speed limits, all of us on the roads should be a little safer. Now, put down that phone!