Four states moving forward with left lane law revisions

March 17, 2020

Keith Goble

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Concern about left lane use is a constant area of focus from state to state. Legislators around the country are taking strides to address the issue.

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.

In Tennessee, a bill headed to the governor’s desk is touted to extend the state’s left lane use rule to benefit commercial drivers.

State law prohibits drivers from hanging out in the far left lane on interstates and highways with three or more lanes in each direction. Violators face $50 fines.

The House and Senate voted unanimously to advance a bill to revise the rule to apply on roads with two or more lanes.

Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, said he introduced HB618 at the request of truck drivers to protect truck drivers.

“This bill simply makes Tennessee’s highways safer for the men and women who get up every morning and go to work driving a truck on our highways,” Windle said during House floor discussion. “It’s the very least we can do to try to make it safer for the professionals that haul our food, fuel, and other things for our families.”

Arizona 

An Arizona House-approved bill is intended to make sure beginning drivers are clear about left lane travel in the state.

Arizona law specifies that travelers driving slower than the speed of traffic must stay in the right lane except to pass. Offenders face fines up to $250.

The bill, HB2590, would require the Arizona Department of Transportation to include left-lane restrictions in any education and examination material.

A requirement for signs to be posted to alert travelers about the state’s left lane rule was removed from the bill.

“The signage would have come at a cost of $200,000, so we decided to drop that and just go out and educate the public,” Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, said during a recent committee meeting.

The bill awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

Oklahoma

An effort halfway through the Oklahoma Legislature attempts to clarify the state’s left lane rule.

The state limits left lane use on roadways with at least two lanes of traffic in the same direction. State law specifies that drivers are required to stay to the right unless passing or preparing to turn left, or for safety measures.

House lawmakers voted unanimously to advance a bill to revise wording to specify that vehicles would be in violation of the law when traveling on highways.

HB4047 now moves to the Senate.

South Carolina

One bill moving through the South Carolina House is intended to further discourage slowpokes hanging out in the far left-hand lane of highways.

South Carolina law requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Exceptions to the lane rule are made for situations that include preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle.

Violators face fines of up to $100.

Advocates say the deterrent is not enough to discourage the behavior.

H4835 would double the fine amount to $200 and attach a two-point violation for improper driving in the left lane.

An exception would be made for commercial driver’s license holders. Violators would face $50 fines and no points would be assessed against his or her driving record.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation would also be responsible for posting signs along interstates to alert travelers of the law.

An estimated 128 signs would be installed along the state’s interstates at a cost of $24,000, according to a fiscal impact statement.

The bill awaits further consideration in the chamber.

The Senate has voted to advance a similar bill.

S9 would permit travel in the left lane solely for overtaking or passing another vehicle.

Fine amounts for car and truck drivers found in violation was amended on the Senate floor from $100 to $25. Additionally, violators would get warning tickets for the first 90 days.

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 other articles by him.

Keith Goble

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.