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The law's clear: You must let drivers pass
Before sharing readers' responses on Sunday, a look at the laws applying to left-lane hoggers

Date published: 2/9/2006

By ROB HEDELT

JUDGING BY responses to my recent column on the topic, there's precious little middle ground on the subject of left-lane huggers.

Readers on one side share contempt for drivers who hang in the left lane of divided highways.

On the other side are those who say some local roads are so crowded that the only way to make left turns is to get to the left and stay there--for miles.

The column generating the range of opinions stemmed from people I've noticed lately who block traffic on State Route 3 west of Fredericksburg.

Specifically, I focused on drivers who get into the left, westbound lane of State Route 3 near Central Park, and stay all the way to Wilderness Corner.

I'll share a wide selection of readers' opinions on the subject on Sunday.

But first, it's informative to get some clarification on the issue from the agency that enforces traffic law, the Virginia State Police.

Sgt. F.L. Tyler, a public information officer with the state police office in Culpeper, said the following section of state code applies to left-lane hangers:

"It shall be unlawful to fail to give way to overtaking traffic when driving a motor vehicle to the left and abreast of another motor vehicle on a divided highway."

It continues: "On audible or light signal, the driver of the overtaken vehicle shall move to the right to allow the overtaking vehicle to pass as soon as the overtaken vehicle can safely do so."

In other words, said Tyler, if you're in the left lane of a divided highway and going down the road, even with a vehicle to your right, the law requires that you give way and let a vehicle behind you pass.

Specifically, he said, if you're in that situation and a vehicle behind you signals its intention to pass, by either honking a horn or flashing its lights, you are required to move to the right as soon as it's safe, and allow the signaling vehicle to pass.

Failure to do so is a violation of the law, he said.


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