Ask a Trooper: Drivers should remain in right lane unless passing or turningQ: Just what is the enforced speed limit in the fast lane? It used to be less confusing when the posted limit was enforced the same in all lanes.
By: Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, Minnesota State Patrol
Q: I read Sgt. Mowers’ answer to the speeding and tailgating question on April 7 in the Duluth News Tribune. In the first part of his answer he states that speeding and tailgating are forms of bullying and are dangerous. But, in the last paragraph he seems to promote this type of driving, speeding and tailgating in the fast lane by saying get out of their way, even if you are driving the posted speed limit. Just what is the enforced speed limit in the fast lane? It used to be less confusing when the posted limit was enforced the same in all lanes.
A: Thanks for asking for a clarification. Please be sure that I am definitely not promoting “that type of driving” whatsoever. In Minnesota, we don’t have a law (like some states do) that says you can’t drive in the left (or fast lane) of a multi-lane road when not passing or turning off. Instead, we have a law that basically says that slower traffic has to keep to the right. That should not be confusing at all. For many years now, I have been telling people to drive the speed limit, or to the conditions. I have never said or even suggested that there was an “enforced” speed limit of any kind on any road or highway different than the regular posted speed limit. Drive the speed limit or to the conditions.
When it comes to just driving in that left (or fast) lane, don’t do it unless you are passing another vehicle or turning off up ahead soon. There are about 8,500 police officers in Minnesota and probably about 500 agencies (just guessing). They all have their own policies and ideas about what speeds they enforce on any given roadway or in any speed zone in particular based on current conditions or circumstances. No one could possibly answer your question about “enforced” speeds, because there is no specific answer. That is a separate issue than just driving in that left lane blocking traffic, which is a form of aggressive driving. The vast majority of our head-on collisions (that occur on multi-laned highways) occur in the left (fast) lane, so if for no other reason, stay driving in the right lane (unless you are passing or are going to turn off soon up ahead) and you can practically eliminate your chances for a head-on collision as well. Again, thanks for asking and giving me a chance to clarify.
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.