Officials in seven states focus on left-lane use

February 1, 2019

Keith Goble

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Left-lane use is a constant area of focus from state to state. Legislators around the country continue 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.

West Virginia

Two lawmakers have introduced bills to address left-lane use.

Sponsored by Rep. Gary Howell, R-Mineral, the first bill would limit continuous operation in the left lane of multilane highways. Specifically, HB2355 would make it illegal to operate a vehicle in the far left-hand lane while other traffic is attempting to pass.

“This has to be one of the biggest complaints we hear from motorists,” Howell said in prepared remarks. “It’s time we crack down on these nuisance drivers.”

Impeding the flow of traffic would carry a maximum $100 fine. Subsequent offenses would result in up to $200 fines.

The bill is in the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee.

A second bill would boost fines for impeding traffic in the left lane.

Sponsored by Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, SB458 would raise fines for first offenders to as much as $250. Repeat offenders would face fines up to $350.

The bill is in the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Clements is the committee chairman.

West Virginia is one of at least a half dozen states so far this year to pursue action to change left-lane use rules.

Connecticut

Two bills in the Joint Committee on Transportation are intended to keep clear the far left lane of the state’s busiest highways.

Connecticut law already 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.

Sponsored by Rep. Kurt Vail, R-Stafford, HB5061 would further limit left-lane use for motorists and truck drivers. Specifically, the bill would prohibit staying in the far left lane on any state highway.

Exceptions listed under current law would continue to apply.

A similar House version is HB5557.

Delaware

In nearby Delaware a rule already exists 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 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.

Senators voted unanimously to advance the resolution to the House, where it awaits final approval.

South Carolina

One state lawmaker is trying again to further discourage slowpokes hanging out in the far left-hand lane of highways.

South Carolina law already 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.

Sen. Ross Turner, R-Greenville, does not believe the deterrent is enough to discourage the behavior. He has introduced legislation that would raise the fine for violators of the keep-right law.

Specifically, the fine for driving less than the speed of normal traffic in the passing lane of a multilane highway would increase to as much as $200. Warnings would be issued to violators for the first 90 days.

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

This year’s version, S200, is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Mississippi

The Senate Highways and Transportation Committee has voted to advance a bill that covers travelers who drive slowly in the far left lane of multilane highways.

The Magnolia State requires vehicles driving slower than the normal speed of traffic to stay in the right lane of multilane highways. Vehicles are allowed to merge left to overtake and pass slower traffic.

Sponsored by Sen. Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, SB2383 would permit police to ticket drivers solely for continuous operation in the left lane when it impedes the flow of traffic.

Oklahoma

One Senate bill attempts to clarify the state’s left lane rule.

The Sooner State limits left-lane use on highways 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.

Sponsored by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, SB640 would revise wording to specify that vehicles would be in violation of the law if impeding the flow traffic.

The bill awaits assignment to committee in the regular session that begins Monday, Feb. 4.

Arizona

A House bill would require signs posted to alert travelers about the state’s left-lane use rule.

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.

HB2535 would require the Arizona Department of Transportation to erect signs every 50 miles on rural highways notifying the driving public of the state’s left-lane use law.

The signs would be posted during regular maintenance of other highway signs. The deadline for posing signs is Sept. 1, 2022.

Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, has said signs already are posted on roadways that include Interstate 17 alerting truck drivers to left-lane restrictions.

The bill awaits assignment to committee.

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.

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