Georgia’s “Slow-Poke” Bill Goes After Left-Lane Sitters

Georgia Goes After Left-Lane Hogs with New Bill

One week after approving a new confederate license plate, the state of Georgia has responded with something all drivers can unite behind: a real effort to fine people sitting in the left lane. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would modify the state’s current highway laws and label left-lane lollygagging as a misdemeanor. Specifically, the bill would require all drivers in the left lane, whether they are driving at the speed limit or not, to move over for any faster vehicle. That means Georgians would actually need to check their mirrors and “should reasonably know that he or she is being overtaken in such lane from the rear by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed.”

A violation would not apply to situations involving heavy traffic, poor weather, vehicles approaching left-lane tolls and exits, or for emergency vehicles and highway crews doing work. A similar law that would set fines of at least $75 failed to pass in 2010.

While every state has a similar law on the books restricting left lane usage, the language varies. Some mandate that no cars be in the left lane unless a driver is performing a passing maneuver, while many others mandate that slower drivers should move over only if they’re going slower than traffic. But when it comes to enforcement, just a handful of states are serious about moving oblivious drivers to the right.

Two months after approving the nation’s highest speed limit, Texas state troopers began a left lane crackdown in November with fines of up to $500. In August, a New Jersey law went into effect that doubled the minimum left lane fine to $100 after police issued more than 4200 tickets in 2012. In Colorado, where the speed limit on many highways is 75 mph, a left lane violation can cost drivers up to three points on their license and $106.

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Most police and traffic officials recognize the value of clearing the left lane for passing. Emergency vehicles have a clear shot, traffic flows freer, and faster drivers—whether they’re above the speed limit or not—are less apt to tailgate, abruptly change lanes, or otherwise become aggressive and cause accidents. But most police officers never issue a citation, because sitting on the roadside with a radar gun is much easier and, often, more lucrative for the state. Go to places where drivers are more educated and aware of their surroundings—Germany being a prime example—and the seas part when you’re going faster. That’s the America we’d like to drive across.

About Clifford Atiyeh