Acting Captain Rob Huss
Government and Media Relations
(360) 596-4010 – office
(360) 596-4015 – fax

*** For Immediate Release***

Date: May 16, 2012
Contact: Trooper Ryan Tanner
Phone: (360) 449-7960
Cell: (360) 772-3500
Twitter: @wastatepatrol

Towing a Trailer? Using the Left Lane? Which Speed Limit? Know the Rules

With the upcoming summer travel season fast approaching, the Washington State Patrol wants to remind drivers who are towing a travel trailer or boat on the highway that they need stay out of the left lane and obey posted speed limits.

Washington State’s Keep Right Law requires all vehicles stay to the right except to pass, and the left lane is used primarily as a passing lane when there are two or more lanes moving in the same direction. All vehicles towing trailers or vehicles over 10,000 pounds are prohibited from using the left lane when there are three or more lanes moving in the same direction.

“We understand it can be frustrating for drivers when you have other motorists camped out in the left lane,” said WSP Captain Ron Rupke, District 5 commander. “But this also doesn’t mean motorists can drive in an aggressive manner or use the left lane to speed.”

Slower moving vehicles traveling in the left lane create unsafe conditions which can include:

Troopers often stop drivers for continuously driving in the left lane and the motorists often state, “I didn’t realize it was against the law.”    

Allowing faster moving traffic to pass is always the best choice.  Frustrated drivers that travel in an aggressive manner often choose to weave in and out of cars that travel “too slow” by their standards.  Remember that if a driver chooses to exceed the speed limit in the left lane it is much easier for troopers to stop them for the violation if the slower moving vehicles are not in the left lane. 

The law for left lane travel (RCW 46.61.100 – Keep right except for passing) states 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 left lane does not including high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.  The fine for failure to keep right except for passing is $124.

When there are three or more lanes moving in the same direction, additional restrictions are placed upon all vehicles towing trailers or vehicles over 10,000 pounds.  These vehicles are prohibited from using the left lane except to prepare for a left turn at an intersection or exit ramp.  These restrictions do not apply to a vehicle using an HOV lane.  The HOV lane is not considered the left-hand lane of a roadway.  The fine for illegal use of the left lane is $124.

On certain stretches of interstate freeways and state highways, speed limits are posted for passenger cars and trucks.  The word “trucks” on signs giving notice to maximum speed limits means vehicles over 10,000 pounds and all vehicles in combination.  This restriction applies to all vehicles towing a trailer regardless of the size of vehicle or trailer (RCW 46.61.410).  Fines for speeding are based on miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

For more information, see the Washington State Patrol’s YouTube video series “Good to Know—Keep Right”.