Oklahoma drivers, though used to favoring the right lane on the highway, will now be required to remain there unless they have a justifiable reason to make a move to the left.

THE ISSUE: Road rage and safety issues have spurred a deeper look into the state's left lane law.

LOCAL IMPACT: As of today, Oklahoma state law requires that highway travelers must use the left lane only for passing or for safety measures — or face a $235 fine.

Oklahoma drivers, though used to favoring the right lane on the highway, will now be required to remain there unless they have a justifiable reason to make a move to the left.

For years, the Left Lane Law for multilane roads has been such that those traveling in the left lane could do so as long as the normal flow of traffic wasn't being impeded.

As of today, an updated version of the older state law is now in effect.

The newest version reads that the left lane is to be used for passing — simply driving in the left lane is no longer acceptable.

The state legislature passed the new version of the statute in May.

For drivers questioning whether using the left lane for passing is the only legal action allowed, there are still concessions made for particular situations, including the potential of merging traffic, executing a left turn and moving over for stopped or emergency vehicles.

“... this paragraph shall not prohibit driving in the left lane when traffic condition, flow, or road configuration, such as the potential of merging traffic, required the use of the left lane to maintain safe traffic conditions,” the new law reads.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) Trooper Dwight Durant said vehicles in the left lane will be required to move to the right if another vehicle comes up from behind, allowing the faster-moving vehicle to pass.

“We’re going to take into consideration congested traffic and metropolitan areas,” Durant said. “We’re mainly concerned with the long stretches in the rural areas.”

OHP Capt. Paul Timmons said though the law has generally been on the books for a long time this year's adjustments are bringing the state more in line with many across the nation.

He said this new update to the law mainly focuses on those who habitually drive in the left lane for no justifiable reason.

“It causes a problem,” he said. “It's probably one of the major causes of road rage when someone just stays in the left lane and refuses to move over.”

Durant said public safety is a big reason behind changes to the law.

Emergency responders will have an easier time getting to the scene of an accident because that lane will be clear, he said.

Timmons said it's going to take a lot of common sense and good judgment by Troopers to determine who is loitering in the passing lane and who isn't.

Timmons added just because drivers are going the speed limit, it doesn't make it okay to stay in that lane.

Durant said highways are typically the roads eyed for the left lane issue.

“If there is a left-turn access, or you can get onto a multilane road from the left, those are not the roads we're concerned about,” he said.

Fines for violating the new left lane law are about $235.