“So if I'm driving in the left lane at 5 miles per hour over the speed limit, I'm already breaking the law by speeding, but if I don't pull over right away to let someone else pass, I'm breaking a second law? That makes no sense.”

“So if I’m driving in the left lane at 5 miles per hour over the speed limit, I’m already breaking the law by speeding, but if I don’t pull over right away to let someone else pass, I’m breaking a second law? That makes no sense.”

The comment quoted above was typical of several that popped up in reader comments across a wide swath of media outlets as they reported the details on Minnesota’s new left-lane, so-called “slow-poke” law that took effect Aug. 1.

That comment and so many more people questioning the apparent minutiae in regard to the new
law are wasting their breath. They’re making something that is not complicated unnecessarily complicated.

We won’t be as harsh as people who abide by the “KISS” method: “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” but we will say it’s not difficult to keep the new left-lane slow-poke law simple: If you’re on a four-lane highway (two lanes in direction), don’t drive in the left lane unless you’re passing someone.

How difficult and convoluted is that to do?

This law isn’t that big of a deal around these parts, anyway. Seriously, how often when you’re driving to Grand Forks or Bemidji on U.S. Highway 2 are you going to encounter a slow-poke who insists on driving in the left lane and in the process seriously chaps your hide? This is rural Minnesota, so you just make sure the road around you is clear – it probably is – and navigate your way as best you can around the left-lane slow-poke.

But on I-94 as you make your way to the Twin Cities...that’s where this new law, if it’s followed by motorists and at least sporadically enforced by law enforcement, could really improve the driving experience for those who know that the left lane is supposed to be for passing only.

If you’re pulled over and ticketed, you’re facing fines and fees totaling $125, so one would think if you’re ticketed once and in the process have the law explained to you by the officer who pulled you over, you will no longer drive slow and hog the left lane.

The law’s language states that a motorist will only be deemed in violation if his or her slow-poke driving in the left lane is creating a public safety hazard.

It’s that language in the new legislation that is most spot-on, because serial left-lane slow-pokes do in fact create a public safety hazard when busy highways like I-94 become more congested as they near large metro areas such as the Twin Cities.

Motorists stuck behind them are at first frustrated and then become angry. They tailgate. They drive aggressively. They try to squeeze into spots they wouldn’t otherwise. They accelerate enthusiastically, then have to brake hard. Some of them, they even border on road rage. All because someone either doesn’t know the rules of the road, or someone knows the rules of the road but simply thinks those rules don’t apply to them. The decision to drive in that fashion causes a negative chain reaction with impacted motorists nearby, and what you have right there is a public safety hazard, because the risk of a crash is amped up significantly.

This law is simple: Stay out of the left lane if you aren’t passing another vehicle. Do that, and the chances of everyone arriving safely and happily at their destination increase.