LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. -- We've all experienced this: when a tractor-trailer hogs the left lane on an interstate keeping you from passing.
"I think it is an accident waiting to happen. I think if they're going to pass, that's fine," said Paul Gaudet of Eagle Rock.
Newswatch 16 took a drive along Interstate 81 in Luzerne County. We were only on the road for a short time and found several examples of tractor-trailers hogging the left lane.
It's not just drivers who are concerned about this; other truck drivers are, too.
"They shouldn't be in the left lane at all," said truck driver Joh Ackland. "I see it all the time. I try to let them know, but they don't care."
Newswatch 16 did a story on left lane hogs earlier this year but still had more questions, like what are state agencies doing to keep this problem from happening?
PennDOT places signs along the interstate to try to keep traffic flowing. You'll see signs that say, "no trucks, buses, trailers in left lane."
"There are certain times where we will have a sign up that says, 'trucks use right lane.' What that does is restrict the truck only to the right lane. Other times, there will be a sign that says, 'all vehicles stay right except to pass.' That, obviously, applies to trucks and cars because it's talking about all vehicles," said PennDOT official James May.
May says that in an area like ours, with many hills, trucks hogging the left lane can cause serious congestion issues.
"What we were finding, like down in the Hazleton area, down on I-81 southbound especially, would be one truck going 35 miles an hour down the road and then another truck would be passing it at like 40 miles an hour and it would be backing up the traffic for miles and miles and the truck driver would say, 'Hey, I'm following the sign that says keep right unless to pass." So in that instance, we'd put a sign up that was a little bit stronger that says all trucks must stay in the right lane," May explained.
After talking with PennDOT's spokesperson, Newswatch 16 wanted to learn more about the enforcement of left lane laws so we spoke with state police.
"Pennsylvania Vehicle Code 3301 states that all vehicles drive on the right side of the roadway except for when passing on the left side," said Trooper Anthony Petroski.
We contacted Pennsylvania State Police headquarters in Harrisburg and learned that in this year in Luzerne County alone, state police have given out 48 left lane citations. That's quite a jump from last year when there were only four left lane citations in Luzerne County and from 2016 when they were nine.
The headquarters spokesperson told Newswatch 16 there is no way to pinpoint why there was such a drastic increase in citations from 2017 to this year, but he did say enforcement priorities and manpower changes could be factors.
"We pull people over for any kind of violation whether they think it's serious or not," Trooper Petroski said.
State troopers stress that all vehicles, not just trucks, are supposed to use the left lane only if they're passing.
"They can be charged with section 3111a which is obedience to traffic control devices which is a $150 fine plus court costs.
Truck driver Jon Ackland has only been on the job about a month, but he has an important message for all truck drivers on the road.
"Let's say the speed limit is 70 out here and they're doing 55 in the left lane, then, yeah, get out of the left lane. Let the cars go by."