Officials in five states focus on left lane use
April 9, 2019
Lane use continues to draw discussion at statehouses around the country. Below is a roundup of some notable efforts 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.
One bill moving through the House would amend the state’s left lane use rule.
Alabama law already prohibits drivers from hanging out in the far-left lane.
HB212 would revise the rule to clarify while traveling on an interstate it is against the law to stay left more than one-half mile without completely passing another vehicle. Certain exceptions would apply.
Warning citations would be issued for the first 60 days.
Left lane use has the attention of multiple Iowa state legislators.
State law already mandates slower traffic to stay to the right.
The Senate Transportation Committee has voted to advance a bill that targets drivers who hang out in the left lane. Specifically, SF389 would specify that drivers who “reasonably should know” another vehicle is attempting to overtake the vehicle would face escalating fines for failure to merge right.
Simply failing to move right could result in a $100 fine. 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.
SF389 awaits additional consideration in the Senate.
The House version is HF481.
Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, has said the left lane rule change would benefit professional drivers. He says 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.
Across the state line in Minnesota, one Senate bill on the move would penalize slowpokes in the far left lane of highways.
Minnesota law already requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Violators faces $50 fines.
Sponsored by Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, SF620 would set the fine at a minimum of $100.
“We’ve all been stuck behind slow moving drivers hogging the left lane, even though that lane is only supposed to be used for passing,” Jasinki said in prepared remarks. “Our commutes are already hard enough, it’s time to ease some stress by adding Minnesota to the list of states that penalizes left-lane drivers.”
The bill awaits further consideration in the House.
A rule already exists in Delaware to prohibit driving in the left lane below the posted speed.
Noting that slower traffic in the passing lane continues to generate complaints, a Senate measure approved by both statehouse chambers requests the State Police and state Department of Transportation look into the issue of slower traffic in the left lane. Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 requests the agencies to offer recommendations to address the issue.
Recommendations could include additional restrictions on left lane use and additional or different signs.
In nearby Massachusetts, a bill in the Joint Committee on Transportation is intended to avoid potential road hazards caused by vehicles traveling on a spare tire.
Sponsored by Rep. Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk, H3056 would prohibit vehicles operating on a spare tire from driving in the passing lane.