Lingering in the left lane is illegal, problematic and hard to enforce

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's definitely frustrating being stuck behind a driver lingering for too long in the left lane, but what a lot of people don't know is that driver's lingering is also illegal.

“It seems like people either disobey or are misinformed,” said Sgt. Collin Stosberg with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Missouri and Kansas both have statutes that make it illegal to linger in the left lane whenever there are two or more lanes of a highway; in Kansas, the law is only enforceable outside of corporate city limits

“Motorists need to be reminded to drive in the right-hand lane unless they’re passing or are overtaking another vehicle," Stosberg said.

Troopers in Missouri have issued more than 4,000 citations in the last two years for left-lane offenders, according to data from MSHP. Stosberg said part of the problem is that the law is hard to enforce.

“When they see our patrol cars, often it corrects whatever bad driving behavior they were exhibiting,” he said.

At the same time, Stosberg said left lane violations can lead to bigger problems.

“Over the course of my 21-year-career, I’ve seen it lead to violence, assaults, traffic crashes, property damage and even murder,” Stosberg said.

If you find yourself behind a left lane offender, Stosberg said it’s best to take the high road and back off.

“The worst thing you could do is tailgate or follow too close or hunk your horn,” Stosberg said. "Those are just some of the actions I've seen in my career that can lead to bigger problems.”

You can be ticketed for violating the law. In Missouri, fines and cost could be as high as $97. In Kansas, you can be fined $60.

To learn more about passing or left lane laws in your state, click here.