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Joplin Left Lane Ordinance

It's not a well known or a well abided city ordinance- it's illegal for Joplin drivers to drive in the left hand lane of a roadway.
JOPLIN, MO --- Many people we spoke with were surprised the law existed in city limits.

Alyce Alford was driving on Main Street late one night when she saw the flashing lights in her rear view mirror.

"It was the first ticket I ever got," says driver Alyce Alford.

An officer cited the teen for improper lane use, which means she failed to stay in one lane.
The officer also told her about a law she had no idea existed. It's illegal to drive in the left lane. The officer did not cite her for it, just advised Alford about the statute.

"I asked him what the policy is for driving in the left hand lane and he said just from now on to treat the City of Joplin streets like you were on the highway at all times," says Alford.

According to city ordinance, the left hand lane of any roadway is only intended for passing cars.

"Everyone I tell says really? that's a thing," says Alford.

Many people  we spoke with were also surprised.

"I never knew that I've been driving for what, 15 years," says driver Whitney Wimer.

"I drive a lot in the left lane to get around slower traffic," says driver Bernadett Boothe.

"I do remember hearing about it, I don't normally see people following it so I probably haven't been the best at following it myself," says driver Novella Webster.

"Traffic laws are designed for a system that way you know what the other vehicle should be doing and what the expectations are for that system. It's whenever that system get out of sync that accidents occur," says Sergeant Rusty Rives with the Joplin Police Department.

The ordinance isn't heavily enforced. Only one person has been cited for driving in the left hand lane this calendar year. It was issued to a drunk driver in August 2012.

"That revolves around discretion. For a lot of people it's an education point. Many people don't know they can't do that," says Rives.

It's a lesson learned for Alyce. One she wants to share with others.

"It's nice I can make people aware of it," says Alford.

This ordinance doesn't just apply in Joplin. Drivers are required to stay in the right-hand lane under Missouri state statute. For a look at this city ordinance and other Joplin traffic laws click here.


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