Slowpoke

The State of Minnesota recently passed a bill that will go into effect Aug. 1, allowing law enforcement to fine slow drivers in the left lane. (Daily News File Photo)

Whether commuting to work or trying to get home, slow drivers in the left lane can be a headache. As of Aug. 1, slow drivers in the left lane who refuse to move over to let traffic pass will be fined.

In the last days of this year’s special session, the “Slowpoke” bill was passed in conjunction with the Transportation Bill in the hopes of freeing up traffic congestion in Minnesota.

“This an efficient way to help traffic move more fluidly,” said Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, who worked on the bill with Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer and often travels to Minneapolis and back, finding slow drivers in the left lane to be frustrating.

Jasinski also said the bill will mostly affect the Greater Minnesota area with the freeway traffic coming to and from Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Sgt. Troy Christianson with the Minnesota State Patrol said the bill will help decrease crashes and road rage incidents.

“Switching lanes increases crashes,” Christianson said as he described how the bill will enforce people staying in the right lane during a backup instead of jostling to gain ground which can cause accidents.

He also reiterated traffic laws that state that vehicles may not exceed the speed limit to pass another vehicle on a four-lane road, and on a two-lane road, a vehicle may only go 65 miles per hour to pass another vehicle.

“Moving to the right lane is a common courtesy,” Christianson said, “and now because of the new law, people can become educated and we can enforce the law.”

How the law works

If a person is driving in the left lane and someone is behind them, the slower driver is required to move to the right lane if possible as is stated in the “Keep Right” traffic law in all 50 states.

According to Jasinski, the “Slowpoke” bill, allowing a person who breaks the “Keep Right” traffic law to be fined, is already enacted in 13 or 14 states.

Each state with the bill fines a different amount. In Minnesota, a “slowpoke” will be fined $50 in addition to the $75 surcharge that all states have.

According to the bill, a person is exempt from the new law:

• when the right half of the roadway is closed to traffic due to construction or repair

•when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle parked or stopped on the roadway

• when approaching a road maintenance or construction vehicle parked or stopped on the roadway

• when preparing to turn left at an intersection or into a private road or driveway

• when a specific lane is designated and posted for a specific type of traffic

• when preparing to exit a controlled-access highway by using an exit on the left side of the road or the vehicle is entering a controlled-access highway by using an on-ramp that enters on the left side of the road.

To view the bill visit revisor.mn.gov and search “SF620.”

Reporter Renata Erickson can be reached at 507-333-3129. Follow her on Twitter @FDNrenata.

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