Four states address left lane use

January 21, 2022

Keith Goble

|

Travel in the left lane is a topic of concern for professional drivers and others traveling on highways. Legislators around the country could consider bills in the coming months that are intended to address the continuing safety concern.

Four states took action a year ago to limit travel for all vehicles in left lanes.

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.

Florida

New for 2022, two Florida bills address the issue of left lane use.

Since 2014, Florida law prohibits travelers from driving too slowly in the left lane of a multilane highway if they “reasonably should know” they are begin overtaken by another vehicle. Drivers traveling the speed limit also are required to yield to vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit.

Violators face $161 fines. Florida licensed drivers also face up to three points being added to their license.

Bills in both statehouse chambers would revise the state’s left lane rule.

Specifically, the identical House and Senate bills would prohibit left lane use unless overtaking and passing another vehicle, or preparing to turn left on roadways with two or more lanes in the same direction with a speed limit at least 65 mph.

Most notably, the specification about driving speed would be eliminated.

The bills are H647 and S960.

Iowa

An Iowa bill that can be carried forward from the 2021 regular session covers travel in the left lane.

State law already mandates slower traffic to stay to the right. Violators face $50 fines.

Sponsored by Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, the bill targets drivers who hang out in the left lane. Specifically, HF494 specifies that drivers who “reasonably should know” another vehicle is attempting to overtake the vehicle would face escalating fines for failure to merge right.

The bill would authorize $135 fines for simply failing to move right. If inaction results in serious injury, violators would face $500 fines and/or a 90-day driving suspension. Incidents that result in death could carry a $1,000 fine and/or loss of driving privileges for 180 days.

Worthan, who has a family trucking business, has said the left lane rule change would benefit professional drivers. He previously said he has experienced drivers of all vehicle types create a rolling roadblock by not making their pass and getting back into the right lane in a reasonable amount of time.

Maryland

One Maryland bill would revise the state’s left lane use rule.

State law requires all vehicles traveling at least 10 mph below the posted speed to stay to the right.

Sponsored by Delegate Neil Parrott, R-Washington, HB222 would require drivers traveling slower than the “general speed” of traffic on rural interstates to stay right.

The House Environment and Transportation Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill Feb. 3.

West Virginia

Two West Virginia House bills seek to prohibit vehicles from driving slowly in the far left lane.

State law specifies that vehicles stay to the right except to overtake and pass another vehicle in the same direction.

Sponsored by Delegate Steve Westfall, R-Jackson, the bills are similarly worded to go one step further. Drivers would be prohibited from traveling slow in the far left lane of a roadway or interstate for more than one and one-half mile without completing a passing maneuver of another vehicle.

First-time offenders would face fines up to $100. Subsequent violations would result in escalating fine amounts. Certain exceptions would apply.

HB2222 and HB4026 are in the House Judiciary Committee. LL

More state trends

Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of many trends among statehouses across the U.S. Here are some recent articles by him.

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.