SEATTLE – Washington state troopers in King County pulled over 223 drivers last month who camped out in the freeway passing lane, breaking a law that not many drivers know about. Of those, 199 were let off with warnings.
The Washington State Patrol is putting higher emphasis on keeping slower traffic in the right lane and out of the left general purpose lane, which is the designated passing lane.
Many of those who were pulled over didn't know it was against the law, the state patrol said. Troopers told them to stay out of the left lane if traveling below freeway speeds and not to travel continuously in the left lane for no reason. Violators could be fined $124.
One of the concerns for enforcing the law is aggressive drivers who get frustrated at the slower traffic in front of them and, as a result, dart from lane to lane to get by other cars.
The HOV lane does not count as the so-called "fast lane." However, that is not the case on those freeways that have HOV lanes that are not enforced 24 hours a day, such as Interstate 405, Interstate 90 east of I-405 and State Route 167. Those HOV lanes are only enforced 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. At all other times, the HOV lane then becomes the designated passing lane.
"When HOV lanes are open to all traffic, they should be treated like a regular left-side freeway lane. Left-side freeway lanes are normally reserved for passing, so are only to be used to pass," WSP spokesman Dan Coon told KING 5 last month.