Florida bills to revise left lane rule advance from committees

January 19, 2024

Keith Goble


Two Florida bills on the move at the statehouse would revise left lane rules for all highway users in the state.

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

Florida’s existing left lane rule

Florida law already covers left lane use. Statute prohibits traveling in the furthermost left-hand lane “if the driver knows, or reasonably should know” that he or she is being overtaken in that lane by a driver traveling at a higher rate of speed.

The rule applies to all travelers, even if they are driving the posted speed limit when the overtaking vehicle attempts to pass.

Violators face a base fine of $60. Additional fees and surcharges increase the total penalty up to $158. Florida licensed drivers also face having up to three points assessed to their license.

Truck lane use restrictions

Large trucks are prohibited from traveling in the far left or inside travel lane 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 have been in place along certain sections of interstate and the Florida Turnpike for decades.

Violators face minimum $121 fines, and three points being assessed to a CDL.

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

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

State lawmakers want to further limit left lane use

Identical bills in each chamber would restrict all travelers from hanging out in the left lane on the state’s fastest highways. Both bills have received initial approval in committee.

The House Infrastructure Strategies Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday, Jan. 16, to advance the bill to limit left lane use. The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously a week ago to do the same.

HB317 would forbid any vehicle from continuous operation in the far left-hand lane of roadways with a posted speed at least 65 mph. Exceptions to the rule would be made for actions that include overtaking and passing another vehicle or preparing to turn left.

Sponsored by Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Fort Myers, the bill includes a provision that 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 the furthermost left-hand lane.

The left lane restriction would not apply to emergency vehicles and vehicles engaged in highway maintenance or construction.

“This bill is about a more safe and efficient flow of traffic on our high-speed highways. It simply provides that the left lane is for passing only with some commonsense exceptions,” Persons-Mulicka testified.

Her bill does not affect existing left-lane statute on highways posted below 65 mph.

“For our interstate highways, or any major highways, that’s at that faster speed; we are clarifying the law in saying the left lane is a passing lane,” she said.

In the Senate, an identical bill is also on the move.

Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said his bill – SB258 – is intended to help keep traffic moving and to keep roadways safe.

“It is illegal to pass on the right-hand side, and that is for safety reasons,” he said. “If you look at the data from the highway patrol, in the last five years there were 17,404 accidents that were a direct result of passing on the right-hand side.” LL

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