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Slower traffic should keep right under the law. But how often does that happen?

A reader suggests the state construct “Slower Traffic Stay Right” signs. The Doc explores state law and its exceptions.

It is a universal pet peeve: a car or truck that cannot keep up with the flow of traffic.

You’re traveling on the interstate on cruise control — maybe you’re speeding, maybe you’re not — and then BOOM, you’re forced to hit the brakes because another car is in the left lane driving too slowly.

Typically, that car is driving the speed limit or slightly below it, and refuses to move to the right lane to allow vehicles to pass.

Now it’s decision time.

Should you go around and pass in the adjacent lane? If not, do you resort to a close tailgate or flash your lights to teach them a lesson?

Either way, it’s not safe.

Sgt. Steve Gaskins with the Florida Highway Patrol recognizes that slow drivers in the left lane cause problems from time to time, but said that speeding drivers are problematic, too.

“Some drive too fast, and some drive too slow, but you’ve got one driver going too fast, making improper lane changes,” Gaskins said. "If drivers would drive with caution and patience, and follow the law, we wouldn’t have the issues we have.”

But slow drivers aren’t off the hook either.

Florida Statute 316.081 requires motorists to drive in the right-most lane except when passing other vehicles or when an obstruction makes it necessary to drive on the left or the driver is making a left-hand turn.

As it relates to the flow of traffic, this basically means that slower vehicles in the left lane must yield to faster vehicles.

The Highway Patrol reported 42,821 citations written under this statute from 2014 to 2019.

Reader Eric Sigmond said he emailed the Florida Department of Transportation months ago suggesting it put up signs that read “Slower traffic keep right,” but said he hasn’t received a response.

Luckily, the Doc did.

Kris Carson with the transportation department said the agency focuses on public education to make drivers aware of the law and does not use static signs. Instead, they use dynamic message signs on roadways displaying “keep right” messages to drivers.

Kris Carson, the spokeswoman for the DOT, said the agency uses dynamic message signs on the highway rather than static signs to advise drivers to "keep right." [Florida Department of Transporation]

“We display the messages: ‘Slower traffic keep right — Minimum fine $121,' and ‘Slower traffic keep right — It’s the law,' and ‘Keep right — Let others pass on left’ statewide on a regular basis.”

Typically traffic information is displayed on the DMS signs, but the “slower traffic keep right” messages run on 25 percent of the signs all over the district for two hours a day in the non-peak traffic times, according to Carson.

Traffic updates and road closures:

Hernando County:

  • 24-hour lane closures continue through Saturday for U.S. 98 bridge construction of Suncoast Parkway 2, a half-mile on each side of Suncoast Parkway (State Road 589)
  • Intermittent lane closures continue through Friday for State Road 50 (Cortez Boulevard) widening from Windmere Road/Bronson Boulevard to U.S. 301 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hillsborough County:

  • Lane closures through Friday for Interstate 275 operational improvements from west of State Road 60 (Exit 39) to Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Interstate 75 northbound rest area reconstruction at mile marker 238. Rest area is closed until spring 2021
  • Nightly northbound lane closures through Friday for I-75 repaving from Manatee County Line to north of County Road 672 (Big Bend Road) from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Intermittent lane closures for U.S. 41 repaving from Bullfrog Creek to Denver Street through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • U.S. 92 (Hillsborough Avenue) repaving and drainage improvements from Nebraska Avenue to N 15th Street cause 24-hour lane closures through Saturday
  • Nebraska Avenue drainage installation from Giddens Avenue to south Hillsborough Avenue causes 24-hour lane closures through Saturday
  • U.S. 301 curve improvements at Mango Road cause lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • SR 60 (Courtney Campbell Causeway) highway lighting maintenance from McMullen Booth Road to Rocky Point Drive causes nightly lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Expect lane closures on SR 60 under I-275 through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • SR 60 (Kennedy Boulevard) traffic signal upgrades at Armenia Avenue and Brevard Avenue cause nightly lane closures through Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • SR 582 (Fowler Avenue) median improvements at 12th Street cause lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • CR 580 (Sam Allen Road) widening from east of Paul Buchman Highway (SR 39A) to Wilder Road causes lane closures with flagging operations through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Lane closures on CR 587 (West Shore Boulevard) at I-275 through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • CR 672 (Big Bend Road) bridge replacement from Dickman Road to Wyandotte Road causes 24-hour lane closures through Saturday
  • CR 672 (Big Bend Road) westbound turn-lane extension at I-75 causes nightly lane closures through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Pasco County:

  • Lanes may be closed daily through Friday between 9 and 3:30 p.m. on northbound Dale Mabry Highway from W County Line Road (Pasco-Hillsborough County Line) to Walmart Way (outside lane)
  • I-75 (Diverging Diamond Interchange) from just north of SR 56 (Exit 275) to I-275 (Exit 274). Southbound single-lane closure through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • I-75 median crossovers to the north and south of State Road 52 (mile marker 287 and mile marker 283.5) cause nightly lane closures through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • U.S. 41 (Land O’ Lakes Boulevard) repaving from Ehren Cutoff to Tower Road/Carricker Road causes lane closures through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • SR 54 widening from Curley Road to Morris Bridge Road causes intermittent nightly lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
  • SR 54 repaving from Old Millpond Drive to Little Road causes lane closures through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • SR 54 median improvements at Merchant Avenue causes lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • SR 56 (Diverging Diamond Interchange) entrance ramp onto southbound I-75 causes lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
  • SR 56 (Diverging Diamond Interchange) at I-75 causes lane closures through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Pinellas County:

  • The Dunedin Arts and Crafts Festival causes lane closures this weekend on Main Street from Broadway to Milwaukee Avenue, Highland Avenue from Grant Street to Virginia Street, Douglas Avenue from Grant Street to Scotland Street, Virginia Avenue from Douglas Avenue to Main Street from 4 a.m. Saturday through 8 p.m. Sunday
  • Lane closures with flagging operations continue for State Road 699 (Gulf Boulevard) drainage improvements from Second Avenue to Central Avenue through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m
  • Alt U.S. 19 (Bay Pines Boulevard) bridge repairs over Long Bayou bring eastbound-only lane closures Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • SR 688, SR 586 and SR 580 intersection lighting improvements cause intermittent lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various locations:
    • SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) between Hamlin Boulevard in Largo and Feather Sound Drive in St. Petersburg
    • SR 586 (Curlew Road) between Alt 19/Bayshore in Dunedin and Tampa Road in Oldsmar
  • Gateway Expressway (new tolled roadway system) updates:
    • Lane closures through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on I-275 from south of Gandy Boulevard (Exit 28) to Fourth Street N (Exit 32), I-275 northbound Exit 30 ramp to westbound State Road 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) and westbound 118th Avenue (County Road 296)
    • Lane closures through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on U.S. 19 Frontage Roads from 110th Avenue N to 126th Avenue N, on the SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) entrance ramp to the Bayside Bridge, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) to 49th Street N, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from 28th Street N to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, and CR 611 / 49th Street from 145th Avenue to Bayside Bridge
    • Lane closures through Saturday on 118th Avenue North from U.S. 19 to 34th Street North from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Monique Welch is a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times, and the voice behind Dr. Delay. Send your traffic concerns, questions and pictures of roadway troubles you spot in your travels around the Tampa Bay area to docdelay@tampabay.com. Follow @AskDrDelay.

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