Bill would crack down on drivers caught lingering in left lane

DES MOINES — A bill ready for debate in the Iowa Senate Transportation Committee sends a message to drivers who linger in the left hand lane of highways with four or six lanes of traffic.

Senator Mike Klemish, the committee’s chairman, says the left hand lane is for passing other vehicles. “We feel that if we can make folks aware of the time constraint of being in that lane that they’ll kind of self-correct,” Klemish says.

After July 1st of 2025, someone could be fined $135 for staying in the left hand lane too long, but until then, the bill calls for law enforcement to issue warnings for the behavior. Klemish, who is from Spillville, says as he drove to Des Moines on Monday, he encountered two vehicles on US Highway 20 that stayed in the left lane too long.  “One was left lane ‘camping’ for a good 10 miles,” Klemish said. “It slows traffic, increases hazards and creates concerns.”

In 2019 and 2020, Iowa lawmakers discussed but did not pass bills to penalize drivers who loiter in the left lane.

MOST states have laws saying drivers should generally stay in the right hand lane and use the left lane for passing. However, sustained driving in the left lane carries a $120 fine in Illinois and in Minnesota it’s $125. Drivers in Missouri can be charged with improper passing and charged a fine of just over $80.