State law for 15 years has designated interstate left lanes primarily as passing lanes, but Illinois State Police said troopers this year will use unmarked vehicles to aggressively try to catch those lingering in the left lane and hand out $120 tickets.
Illinois State Police on Jan. 3 took to Facebook to caution motorists with the hashtag “#LeftLaneLollygaggersBeware.” The post included a link to a WCIA-TV broadcast on the plans to heighten enforcement of left lane abuse.
“One of the tactics we’re going to use this year is to use covert vehicles and that way we can do special details,” Illinois State Trooper Tracy Lillard told WCIA-TV. “The motoring public doesn’t know which vehicles we’re in, so we can radio in to the squad cars up ahead to pull over those particular vehicles.”
Troopers are enforcing a state traffic statute that took effect in 2004. The law basically says to stay out of the left lane on interstate highways “except when overtaking and passing another vehicle.”
It also allows exceptions for road conditions, left-lane exit ramps, traffic congestion, merging and other laws such as the mandate to move over for a disabled vehicle or when police have a driver stopped on the right shoulder – as in when they are issuing a driver a $120 ticket for violating the left-lane law. Drivers are allowed to stay in the left lane if there are no other cars behind them in the left lane.
Troopers will also target drivers who tailgate as a way to get slower drivers back into the right lane. They said left-lane lingering causes road rage incidents and accidents, which were the reasons the law was initially introduced in addition to aggressive passing in the right lane.
Illinois’ law only applies to interstate and controlled access highways, which generally have ramps and no traffic signals. It is not illegal to drive in the left lane on county or state highways with intersections and stop lights, according to the law.
State police will also continue to target their list of high-risk driving behaviors called the “Fatal Four,” which includes impaired driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and distracted driving. While state authorities are prepared to combat more left lane misuse, the agency does not categorize the practice as a “high-risk” driving behavior.