States approve rule changes for left lane use

May 7, 2021

Keith Goble

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Changes pursued in multiple statehouses address left lane use for motorists and truck drivers.

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.

Oklahoma

A new law in Oklahoma is intended to clarify the state’s left lane rule.

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

Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed into law a bill to revise wording to specify that vehicles would be in violation of the law when traveling on highways. HB2054 states that county roads that are not part of the interstate or turnpike system are to be excluded.

The new rule takes effect Nov. 1.

South Carolina

The left lane rule in South Carolina could soon be revised.

State 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.

There are no penalties attached to the law.

House and Senate lawmakers agree change is needed because the current deterrent is not enough to discourage the behavior.

The two chambers this year unanimously approved a bill to cover concern about left lane use on state roadways. The versions, however, differed on multiple points.

As a result, a conference committee met recently to amend the House and Senate versions to reach a consensus on how to move forward on the issue.

The final version would apply the left lane rule to situations on highways with at least two lanes when a vehicle is traveling behind a slower-moving vehicle. Fines would be limited to $25.

The prior House-approved version called for violators to face $200 fines and the possibility for motorists in violation of the rule to spend up to 30 days behind bars. The maximum fine for commercial drivers could not exceed $50.

Senators backed a version that allowed fines up to $25.

The version approved by conference committee members specifies that commercial vehicle drivers would be exempt from the rule when they are unable to move into the right lane safely due to other vehicles overtaking or passing the truck on the right.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation would be required to post signage along highways to alert travelers of the law.

Senators voted 44-1 Thursday to approve the bill, H3011. The next stop is the House floor. If approved there, the bill would move to the governor’s desk.

Maryland

In Maryland, the General Assembly came up short of adopting a revision to 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. Violators face up to $500 fines and up to three points added to their driver’s license.

Sponsored by Delegate Neil Parrott, R-Washington, HB964 would require drivers traveling slower than the “general speed” of traffic on rural interstates to stay right.

A sign requirement to alert travelers of the rule is included in the bill.

Parrott said there would be no penalties for violators. He says the sign requirement is more significant for creating a safer interstate system in Maryland.

“By having the signage, we are going to encourage people to drive in a more safe and courteous manner,” Parrott testified to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

The House-approved bill did not get a vote on the Senate floor before the legislature adjourned the regular session, effectively killing the bill. 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.

PrePass

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.