State police write tickets for left-lane lollygaggers
By Mike Riopell
SPRINGFIELD -- Interstate travelers often slow down because they're scared of being caught speeding by lurking Illinois state troopers.
But they also should be careful that their pokey driving doesn't hold up urgent traffic in the left lane. That's illegal, too.
State police have cited 289 drivers holding up left-lane traffic on interstates since it became illegal in 2004, according to state police. They gave tickets to 100 left-lane lollygaggers last year.
State law says drivers can only use the left lane for passing. That is, unless a circumstance like bad weather, congestion or other road conditions make driving in the right lane unrealistic.
Illinois State Police spokesman Rick Hector says it's a simple judgment call for troopers to decide when slow drivers clogging the fast lane should get tickets.
"If you can get over, and you don't, you're violating the law," he said. "Most of the time, it's pretty blatant."
Hector said motorists may have forgotten it's illegal. After all, many focus on avoiding speeding tickets, not rebukes for going too slow.
He said officers have discretion to give warnings instead of tickets, but not knowing the law won't necessarily get scofflaws out of a fine.
State Sen. Dan Rutherford sponsored the left lane law in the state legislature in 2003. He said not leaving the lane open could delay emergency vehicles.
But some voiced resistance to the idea, saying that someone driving the speed limit in the left lane shouldn't be forced to move for a speeder. Still, Rutherford said it's safest just to move over.
"It's not your job to be the enforcer of the law," the Chenoa Republican said.
But he didn't have an opinion on whether 100 tickets last year was too many or too few.
"The intent was never to find people to give tickets," he said.