Drivers could face stiffer penalty on left lane camping

On Monday, lawmakers discussed whether to increase the base penalty for left-lane camping on our state’s highways.

The current penalty is $48. Lawmakers want to push that to $70.

"It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic," the bill reads. "The base penalty amount for this infraction is seventy dollars."

It’s probably not enough to make a change in driver behavior, but it’s a move in the right direction, KIRO Radio traffic reporter Chris Sullivan says.

The left lane is designed for passing on highways, according to the Washington State Patrol.

In 2015, state troopers stopped 13,909 left-lane violators, the Associated Press reports.

In March, troopers did a patrol emphases for left-lane campers.

“We all know there are people out there … that enjoy or like to go just a little bit under the speed limit. That’s what those right lanes are for, primarily,” Sgt. Paul Cagle said. “The left lane allows for folks the ability to move around slow moving traffic.”

“Congestion is an issue, but it’s also from a safety standpoint,” he said. “A number of our collisions involve aggressive driving. And there’s that frustration we all get when we are stuck behind someone camped out in the left lane … and that may cause a motorist to take risks they may not take because of the frustration.”

Senator Michal Baumgartner has said left-lane camping is “worse in Washington state than other states.”

“People will sit in the left lane … and they just won’t move,” he previously said. “You’re forced to pass on the right and then the person speeds up. Easy solution: Get over. If you’re not passing you should not be in the left lane.”

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