Florida bill would revise left lane law

November 21, 2023

Keith Goble


A Florida state lawmaker is renewing his pursuit of a revised left lane rule for all highway users in the state.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the National Motorists Association say that blocking the left lane, whether intentional or not, results in reduced road safety and efficiency.

Existing Florida left lane rule

State law prohibits travelers from driving too slow in the left lane of a multilane highway if they “reasonably should know” they are being overtaken by another vehicle. Drivers traveling the speed limit also are required to yield to vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit.

Violators face fines of at least $75. Florida licensed drivers also face up to three points being added to their license.

All large truck traffic is prohibited from traveling in the far left or inside travel lanes along rural stretches of interstate with at least three lanes in one direction. The rule does not apply to tour buses and recreational vehicles.

Truck lane restrictions are in place along certain sections of Interstates 4, 75 and 95, as well as the Florida Turnpike.

Violators face minimum fines of $121.

The Florida Department of Transportation says “truck lane restrictions improve safety by reducing weaving maneuvers during passing to prevent truck conflicts and crashes with vehicles.”

OOIDA says that truck drivers are first-hand observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws, and, while perhaps not intended, restricting trucks from certain lanes poses serious challenges for truckers and jeopardizes the safety of the traveling public.

Left lane restriction revisited

Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, has filed a bill for consideration during the 2024 regular session that would restrict drivers from hanging out in the left lane.

He introduced a nearly identical bill during the 2023 session. The effort advanced from one committee but did not get to the Senate floor for consideration.

The Florida Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles encourages drivers to travel in the right lane. At the time, however, the agency shared concerns the left lane bill could cause confusion for drivers regarding the state’s move-over law. The existing rule requires drivers to move over or slow down upon the approach of first responders and towing vehicles parked along the roadside.

The rule has since been amended to extend protection to any disabled vehicle that is stopped and is displaying hazard lights, emergency flares or emergency signage. Enforcement of the rule change is scheduled to begin Jan. 1.

Perry’s latest version of the left lane legislation would forbid any vehicle from continuous operation in the far left-hand lane of roadways posted at least 65 mph unless overtaking and passing another vehicle or preparing to turn left.

A provision in the bill clarifies if the far-left lane is a high-occupancy vehicle lane, the lane immediately to the right of such lane or left-turn lane would be considered the furthermost left-hand lane.

Exceptions to the lane restriction would be made for emergency vehicles and vehicles engaged in highway maintenance or construction.

Perry’s bill, SB258, will start in the Senate Transportation Committee. LL

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