Should Drivers Moving Vehicles Slowly in the Left Lane on a Highway Be Ticketed?
Y ou have just rented a car after being a passenger on a flight for several hours; and you just want to get to your hotel room or home — only to have some driver poking along in his or her car in the left lane on a highway and refusing to pull over to the right to allow you to pass.
Should that driver receive a citation from the highway patrol for moving slowly in the left lane?
162 lawmakers in the state of Georgia had voted on Thursday, March 6, 2014 to pass a bill known as HR 459 — also known as the “slow-poke” bill — while only nine lawmakers voted against it — and the bill officially became law on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
The official summary of the bill is “to be entitled an Act to amend Article 9 of Chapter 6 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to speed restrictions, so as to modify provisions relating to impeding traffic flow and minimum speed in left-hand lanes; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date and applicability; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”
In other words, if you are traveling in a vehicle in the left lane of a highway and a car speeds up behind you, you would be required to move to the right to allow the car behind you to pass — even if it is speeding and you are traveling at the legal speed limit…
…and if law enforcement personnel witness you refusing to pull over to allow the car behind you to pass, you could be issued a citation for failing to allow the car behind you to pass — despite the fact that there is already a law which states that the left lane of a roadway should only be used for passing slower vehicles. This is to reduce incidents of “road rage” and mitigate the dangers of aggressive driving.
If the car behind you is traveling faster than the posted speed limit, the driver of that vehicle could also be ticketed for speeding.
That law has been put to the test, according to this article and video from WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta: “In just over nine months, the Georgia State Patrol has written 269 ‘Slow Poke Law’ violations, mostly in the metro area.”
Legislators in Alabama passed a similar law, which went into effect in March of this year, according to this article written by Lowell McGill of The Atmore Advance. “I asked a friend in the highway department how drivers are responding and he told me, ‘There are still defiant drivers who are too stubborn to pull over.’ ‘But, hopefully fines will change the minds of some,’ he said.”
A similar law — which could carry a fine of up to $200.00 — is being proposed in North Carolina, according to this article written by Stephanie Maxwell of WSOC-TV Channel 9 News in Charlotte; while lawmakers in Washington state are considering proposing a bill for a similar law as well, according to this article written by Austin Stanley of KEPR-TV News in Pasco.
I have no immediate access to data which suggests that this law has improved mobility on the highways and avoided potential traffic congestion. I just know that I like to arrive at my destination as quickly, easily, safely and legally as I can…
…but I have seen signs on highways around the United States which state that the left lane is to be used for passing purposes only; and that is typically the rule in many jurisdictions — so although many motorists claim that they did not know that that law exists in Georgia, they should still not be using the left lane unless they are passing another vehicle.
What are your thoughts about law enforcement officers fining drivers for moving slowly in the left lane and not allowing vehicles behind them to pass — even if they are speeding?
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.