Tired of slowpokes hanging out in the left lane when you’re trying to pass? Three N.C. Senate Republicans share your frustrations and want to take action.
Senate Bill 303, filed Thursday, would issue a $200 fine to drivers caught driving below the speed limit or “impeding the flow of traffic” in the left lane of a highway – unless the driver is actively passing another car or preparing to turn left.
The bill defines “impeding the flow of traffic” as a situation when “the person knows or reasonably should know that he or she is being overtaken from the rear by a vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed.” The fines would only apply to highways that are “controlled access or partially controlled access,” such as interstates and other freeways.
“The left lane is not for cruising, it’s for passing,” said Sen. Jeff Tarte, a Mecklenburg County Republican who sponsored the bill. “The basic driver behind this was our law enforcement. It impedes and promulgates congestion on the roads and it actually contributes to road rage.”
Drivers faced with a slow car in the left lane often use other lanes to pass, and Tarte said that can cause accidents. He says the practice has gotten “out of hand,” and that he encounters slow left-lane drivers on his trips between Charlotte and Raleigh.
“I could ticket 50 people on every trip,” he said, adding that he thinks the bill won’t have troubling getting support in the legislature. “There are so many legislators commuting every week that experience it.”
The proposal is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom McInnis of Rockingham and Jim Davis of Macon County.
North Carolina already requires slower vehicles to keep right, but the law doesn’t spell out specific penalties. If the bill passes, the state would join at least five other states that have recently cracked down on poor form in passing lanes, according to PBS Newshour.