Rules to remember on freeways

The arrival of another holiday season means interstates and other multi-lane highways will be busy.

The Wisconsin State Patrol Law of the Month for December reminds freeway drivers that signs asking “Slower Traffic to Keep Right” provide more than just a suggestion – it’s the law.

For example, Wisconsin law 346.59 prohibits drivers from traveling “at a speed so slow as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” Violations can result in a $175 citation.

“Our concern is drivers who monopolize the passing lane on freeways, because it greatly increases the potential for tailgating, crashes and road rage incidents,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Capt. Ryan Chaffee of the Northeast Region-Fond du Lac Post. “When motorists linger in the passing lane for any reason - such as an illadvised attempt to slow down traffic - they’re making an illegal and potentially dangerous decision. Unless you need to legally pass another vehicle, it’s best to remain in the right lane and let law enforcement deal with potential speeders.”

Other laws and safety issues impacting freeway travelers include:

Move over a lane if possible or slow down when approaching a stopped law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, highway maintenance or utility vehicle that has its warning lights flashing. The goal of the state’s Move Over Law (346.072) is to provide a “safety zone” for roadside workers. Violations can result in a $263 fine.

Median crossovers are for authorized vehicles only - using them to turn around is dangerous and illegal. When a vehicle slows to turn onto a crossover, it can result in serious rear-end crashes or cause other drivers to take evasive action. The only safe and legal option to turn around on a freeway is to proceed to the next interchange and use the off/on ramps. Illegally crossing a divided highway (346.15) can also result in a fine of up to $263.

As a matter of public safety and courtesy, freeway drivers should try to accommodate traffic merging from a ramp. While merging vehicles are required to yield, freeway drivers are encouraged to shift over a lane if possible or adjust their speed slightly to accommodate merging traffic.

“We want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable holiday season,” Chaffee said. “That requires all motorists to buckle-up, obey traffic laws, and be patient and alert.”

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