Utahns could use a refresher on these traffic laws, highway patrol sergeant says

Oct 30, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2023, 9:34 am

hov lane is pictured, the highway patrol gets a lot of strange questions about utah traffic laws...

A person travels in the HOV lane on I-15 in Lehi on Thursday, July 12, 2018. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

Editorial note: This article has been changed to reflect that riding in the back of a pickup truck is not illegal in Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — As we approach winter driving conditions, the Utah Highway Patrol is asking all drivers to brush up on the state’s traffic laws, especially the ones Utahns tend to forget.

Impeding traffic while in the left lanes on the freeway, proper use of cell phones while driving and whether it’s required to have your registration card in the vehicle, are all questions answered on the Utah Department of Safety website.

While a lot of the traffic law questions make sense, some of them leave you scratching your head.

UHP Sergeant Cameron Roden said he’s had to pull people over for an interesting HOV lane violation. 

“People see the dotted lines in the HOV lane and even though they’re a single occupant, they think they can use that dotted line area to pass, that’s not a passing zone, or you can pass that left lane loafer or anything like that.”

Speeders in the left lane

Roden said the number one question the UHP gets asked is about speeders in the left lane.

“People being in the left lane and that they’re clogging up traffic when there’s more than one lane traveling in the same direction and there’s cars coming up behind, the person is required to move over and yield to that traffic that is coming up behind.”

Even if you’re driving the speed limit, Roden said it’s best to move over and, “Let them go down the road and get that speeding ticket.”

Speeding isn’t just an issue in the left lane, of course.

HOV confusion

Roden said a lot of people also have questions about speeders in the HOV lane.

The HOV’s rules are different than the left lane’s rules. The HOV lane has two solid lines that drivers can’t cross.

“So if you’ve got traffic coming up behind you, you’re not required to move over because that would be a violation for you to cross those double white lines and allow them to pass.”

He said the best thing to do is get over as soon as there’s a dotted white line and let those drivers pass.

There is an exception for crossing the double white line in the HOV lane though.

“The move-over law does require as they’re approaching an officer, whether they’d be on the shoulder or they’re blocking lanes, to slow down, reduce their speeds and if they’re able to, move over into an adjoining lane.”

Roden said that people get nervous when they see law enforcement on the side of the road or coming up behind them in the HOV lane.

“A lot of times people get nervous saying ‘Okay, what do I do? I’m required by law to move over for law enforcement but I can’t cross that double white line.’ In those times, it is okay and the law does allow you to cross that double white line.”

Turn signals and distance

Utahns are often accused of changing lanes without using their turn signals. Roden said the law governing how long you have to use a blinker was recently changed.

“It used to be three seconds, they’ve moved that to two seconds. So you have to be able to signal for two seconds before changing lanes or making that lateral movement. Two seconds isn’t a long time but a lot of times people don’t wait to signal til the very last second until they’re usually moving over already.”

He said speeding is the number one violation troopers see, but a lot of crashes are actually caused by following too close. Roden said the faster you’re going, the more time you need between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Play it safe, get off at the next exit

Many of us have probably seen a driver cut across that painted triangle at an on or off-ramp. That triangle is a gore area, and you shouldn’t be crossing it. 

“Most of the time, what we see is they’re late to take their exit… So they shoot across that little triangle between the ramp and main flow to try to make their exit. That has caused crashes.”

A driver crossing the gore area nearly hit Roden himself, he said.

So rather than crossing the gore area, Roden said to go to the next exit, turn around and come back.


Crossing between lanes already proves to be hard for some drivers. So how should Utahns handle merging?

Roden said that you should follow Utah’s zipper merge law.

“As you’re getting two lanes that are merging together, every other vehicle is supposed to work in that zipper fashion whereas one from the main flow goes and then one from the on-ramp goes,” and so on, Roden said.

“Very much like a zipper where those two lanes are going to become one.”

Follow Utah traffic laws, use common sense

One of the weirdest questions troopers get? Do I have to wear shoes while driving in Utah? Roden said no – but driving without something on your feet is not a good idea. Another bad idea is riding in the back of a pickup truck.

He said some other rules you would think are common sense include:

  • no open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle, and
  • all passengers are required to wear seat belts.


Related reading: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

KSL Traffic

memorial day traffic...

Adam Small

Times and places to avoid in Utah ahead of Memorial Day weekend traffic

UDOT is reminding Utahns to plan ahead for Memorial Day traffic. UDOT pointed out areas that are likely to see delays.

32 minutes ago

Chelsea Laycock speaks at a 100 Deadliest Days event at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City. Her son...

Adam Small

A Utah mother’s plea as the 100 Deadliest Days begin

Chelsea Laycock said not a day goes by when her son, serving time in a Gunnison prison, doesn't wish he'd done things differently.

20 hours ago

The intersection of 2300 E. Canyon Road in Spanish Fork where two teen girls where seriously hurt a...

Brianna Chavez, KSLTV.com

Plans in place to add traffic signal to Spanish Fork intersection where two girls were hit

UDOT and Spanish Fork officials anticipate construction for a new traffic signal will begin in a few months at an intersection where two girls were left critically injured.

2 days ago

One person died after being struck by a northbound Green Line TRAX train at 1700 South....

Emma Keddington

One person dead after being hit by a TRAX train, bus bridge in place

One person has died after a TRAX incident Monday night.

3 days ago

A semitruck driver missing in Deer Creek Reservoir....

Adam Small, Emma Keddington

Truck driver found dead after crashing into Deer Creek Reservoir is identified

A semi truck driver was killed when he lost control of the truck he was driving, sending the truck into Deer Creek Reservoir.

3 days ago

map of proposed Utah County Projects...

Adam Small

UDOT receives nearly $1.4 billion for Utah County freeway-related projects

Nearly $1.4 billion in funding has been approved by the state for multiple Utah County projects due to population growth.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Utahns could use a refresher on these traffic laws, highway patrol sergeant says