Driving south to DeRidder from Leesville on Highway 171, or vice versa, can be dangerous, between changing speed limits, logging trucks, and vehicles needing to get across to the other side of the highway.

Most people are aware of these dangers and drive accordingly. However, there is one common traffic law that is largely ignored– the left lane is for passing.

"It's a fairly new law," DeRidder Patrol Sergeant Josh Stanford said. "Sometimes it takes a few year for people to catch on. A lot of drivers don't have time to sit down in July and go over the new laws that take place on August 1. A lot of drivers just don't have the knowledge."

The problems that stem from cruising in the left lane are ones that can be fatal for drivers and people who not even on the roads.

"The other day, I was responding to a crash on I-10, and it took me substantially longer to get to the crash because cars were stacked up, hanging out in the left lane," said Highway Patrol Sergeant James Anderson.

For years, it was a "courtesy" to stay out of the left lane unless the driver was passing, and in 2009, it became a law in Louisiana with the revised statute 32:71. The penalty for breaking the law can be a fine over $100 or even jail time.

"The Louisiana Legislature required the DOT to erect signs showing people what they way is," Anderson said. "The signs are there. My experience is, when I pull these people over, first of all, a disproportionate amount of them don't have a driver's license. Beyond that, people have indicated to me that they think it's a 'stupid' law."

On Highway 171, drivers will go into the left lane to turn on the opposite side of the highway, and if cars are cruising in the left lane, can force a backup of vehicles, leading someone who is using the lane correctly into a dangerous situation.

"If people will use that left lane as a passing lane and the right lane as a travel lane, it helps the highway stay open and moving safely," DeRidder Police Chief John Gott said. "You don't have people travel side-by-side and trying to figure out how to get around each other. If there looks like someone is trying to get around me, get over and let them get around me so the roads don't get congested. That's when accidents happen.

"The main thing is to be observant and to think about the other driver, who may not be thinking about you.”

One of the biggest issues with driving in the left lane is "road rage" from a speedier vehicle trying to get around another driver.

"People end up in other unsafe driving behaviors of a result of people not getting out of the left lane such as tailgating and even passing on the shoulder," Anderson said. "Road rage is something else it promotes. We've had more than one road rage incident prompted because of someone driving in the left lane."