Left lane law revisions stall in three statehouses

April 6, 2020

Keith Goble

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Concern about lane use is a constant area of focus from state to state. Legislators around the country have taken strides to address the issue but changes to work schedules due to coronavirus have put the efforts in limbo.

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.

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 signage 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, but the Legislature is postponed until at least April 13. The scheduled adjournment for the regular session is April 28.

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.

The Legislature took a one-week break due to COVID-19 concerns. The regular session reconvened on Monday, April 6.

The bill could be taken up for consideration in the Senate Public Safety Committee.

South Carolina

One bill moving through the South Carolina House is intended to further discourage slower traffic in the far left 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.

The bill is in the House Judiciary Committee.

The South Carolina Legislature suspended the regular session on March 20. Legislators are scheduled to return on April 8.

More on state left lane legislation

Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, is following efforts at statehouses across the U.S. to address left lane use. Here are some recent articles on the issue:

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.