No, it is not legal to drive and stay in the left lane. Florida Statute § 316.081 requires motorists in the State of Florida to drive in the right-most lane except when actively passing. Although Floridians do not seem to know that they are not supposed to cruise in the left lane, you are only supposed to be in the left lane when actively passing another vehicle in the right lane. In other words, you are supposed to be cruising in the right, change lanes into the left lane to pass the vehicle that is driving slower than you, pass that slower vehicle, and then get back into the right lane and cruise along in the right lane. Basically, it means that slower vehicles in the left lane must yield to faster vehicles in the left lane.
Believe it or not, it is actually far more dangerous for vehicles to stay in the left lane and force cars to drive serpentine and weave in-and-out of vehicles moving slower. It is also better for all traffic as the faster vehicle typically starts getting frustrated and will start tailgating or flashing headlights in order to get the slower vehicle out of the way.
Sgt. Steve Gaskins from the Florida Highway Patrol recognizes that slower drivers in the left lane cause problems, but he also says that speeding drivers are a problem, too. According to Monique Welch of the Tampa Bay Times, Sgt Gaskins said: ‘Some drive too fast, and some drive too slowly, but you’ve got one driver going too fast, making improper lane changes. If drivers would drive with caution and patience, and follow the law, we wouldn’t have the issues we have.’
Clearly, driving too slow in the left lane increases frustration, but the Highway Patrol issued 42,821 traffic citations under Florida Statute § 316.081 from 2014 to 2019 (roughly 8,500 tickets annually).
Legislatures have tried to combat the issue of cruising in the right lane but opted not to make the law tougher out of fear of law enforcement profiling or abusing the statute. Florida Department of Transportation instead opted to display dynamic message signs (ones on the message boards) on the roads of Florida stating signs to drivers: ‘Slower traffic keep right – Minimum fine $121’ or ‘Slower traffic keep right – it’s the law’ or ‘Keep right – Let others pass on the left.’
If you have been injured in a Tampa car accident, call Tampa Injury Attorney Martin Hernandez of Martin Hernandez PA at 813.755.9500.