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State police launch crackdown on left-lane violators

Curtis Wildfong/The Holland Sentinel • Mar 4, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The Michigan State Police have launched an initiative in West Michigan taking aim at “southpaw drivers,” but it’s not what it sounds like.

Troopers from state police posts in Lakeview and Rockford, which covers Ottawa County, will be looking out for drivers who persistently use the left lanes of highways, which is against the law for anything other than passing.

Michigan law states: “Upon a roadway having two or more lanes for travel in one direction, the driver of a vehicle shall drive the vehicle in the extreme right-hand lane available for travel, except as otherwise provided in this section.” Those exceptions include passing and also traveling in the left lane for a “reasonable distance” before a left turn.

“All motorists would agree that one of the most frustrating situations on a freeway is being caught behind a left-lane driver,” notes a news release from the state police. “This is not the person who is attempting to actively pass, but the person who believes the left lane is for general travel.”

Additionally, Michigan traffic law prohibits a vehicle from impeding the flow of traffic. A driver that intends to be in the left lane through one of the exceptions above still needs to allow traffic to flow, and driving in the left-hand lane below the prevailing speed of traffic would be a violation.

Violation of these provisions is a civil infraction.

Launching the initiative because of a high volume of complaints flooding into state police posts in West Michigan, the agency says it will spend now through the end of April actively enforcing the left-lane driving restrictions.

“The thrust of this initiative is education,” said F/Lt. Chris McIntire of the Rockford Post. “Many people simply don’t realize that the left lane is reserved for the passing motorist. Besides being generally disruptive to traffic flow, this violation can actually be dangerous, as frustrated motorists attempt risky maneuvers to get around the log jam.”

The state police say that a motorist stopped for this violation during the enforcement period can expect, at the very least, a short lesson on the law and how their actions disrupt traffic flow.

“We just want motorists to understand the law and work on developing courteous driving habits,” the news release states.

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