Local police agencies, the Utah Department of Transportation, and the Utah Highway Patrol are teaming up for a month-long sweep of lawbreaking drivers on Utah freeways, both to clamp down on speeders and to inform drivers of Utah’s ill-understood ‘impedance’ law.
In the state of Utah, it is a violation to drive slowly in the left-hand lane of a multi-lane highway if it impedes faster traffic—even if driving at or above the speed limit. Impeding traffic reduces traffic flow and can lead to traffic jams and road rage.
According to a joint press release early Monday, troopers will be on the lookout throughout the month for both speeders and impeders. “Officers will be deployed throughout the month to educate and inform Utah’s drivers that road laws are just that, the law, and that they make the roads safer for everybody.”
“Basically, we just ding everybody we catch driving in the left lane,” said Sgt. Duane Ontiveros of the Utah Highway Patrol. “If you’re not going 15 over, you’re probably impeding the guy tailgating you, and we are going to pull you over and cite you. But if you are going 15 over, now we’re definitely pulling you over for that.”
According to Sgt. Ontiveros, troopers can’t possibly pull over every violating car, so will be focusing on certain groups such as ‘hot chicks’, cars with out-of-state plates, and ‘hippie granola types’ driving Priuses or other hybrids.
“Those tree-huggers are the absolute worst. They all drive down the highway either at 55 or 95—there’s no in-between with them. And when you pull them over, especially if they’re impeding, they complain about the rule and then they complain about getting a ticket. I wasn’t even going to give them one, but hey buddy your bellyaching is paying for our UHP Christmas party this year.”
“One time though I saw a Tesla flying past Point of the Mountain. I clocked it at 102 but it was just so amazing looking that I couldn’t bring myself to pull the guy over. It was like almost a religious experience.”
Drivers have mixed feelings about the ‘impeding’ law. While some support the new rule, others prefer the state stick to enforcing speed limits.
“I’ve always felt it my right and my duty as a sovereign citizen to encourage others to follow the posted speed limit”, says Carl Christiansen of Provo. “It just give me such a sense of pride and well-doing when I keep some maniac from barreling down the highway at a hundred miles an hour because I’m taking up the left lane and going 65. The only other time in my life I’ve felt such a sense of satisfaction was when I worked at the BYU Honor Code Office.”
“It’s the first I ever heard of this new impeding law”, as he polished the rear bumper of his 2010 Impala, which had recently been damaged in a freeway collision, and had been replaced a month before that because of another freeway collision.
“It just seems stupid that because I am helping to enforce a law, they say I’m breaking another one. I’m just doing my part to keep the streets safe!”
The Highway Patrol encourages drivers to stop speeders not by driving slowly in the fast lane, but by texting 1-800-SPEED-NO with a very detailed description of the offending vehicle. A spokesman for UHP also said that in February officers will be focusing on enforcement of the “Hands Free Driving” law.