9 Investigates

Too slow in the fast lane: The Florida law that's rarely enforced

Most of us see it every day:  Drivers going too slow in the left lane, yet refusing to let you pass.

It’s illegal, yet almost never enforced. So what's the point of the law, anyway?

9 Investigates reporter Christopher Heath is hitting the road to see why it's so hard to stop lazy left-lane drivers.

The Florida statutes refer to it as “impeding the flow of traffic” but most drivers have another name for it that cannot uttered in polite conversation nor written in this public forum.  Suffice it to say, nobody like getting stuck behind that one car going slow in the left lane.

“If you are in the far-most left lane, you cannot remain there if a vehicle is trying to overtake you,” says Master Deputy Gregory Rittger of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office citing state statute.  “If there is traffic passing you on your right, out your passenger side, that’s a problem.”

Failure to move over, or impeding the flow of traffic, can result in a  $121 citation, however, the ticket is very rarely written.  In fact according to records obtained by Nine Investigates, only 381 tickets have been issued for impeding the flow of traffic in Orange County in the last five years.

“It's not a very common one, for the most part it’s more of an educational stop,” says Deputy Rittger.

While the stop may not result in a ticket every time, the OCSO says it is still on the lookout for slow drivers in the left lane.  The office points out that not only is it more dangerous to pass on the right, the left lane driver that backs up traffic is also creating congestion which can increase the chances of an accident.

Slow drivers also contribute to road rage.

A 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered, “nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year.”  The report also revealed that, “approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.”

“It is a very high frustration issue among drivers so anything that adds to that frustration can be dangerous,” says Deputy Rittger who reminds drivers to move over, let faster traffic pass.