Raleigh, N.C. — The state House could vote Thursday on whether to require left-lane drivers to move over if faster traffic is behind them.
House Bill 827 would make it an infraction for a driver to fail to move to the right, even if she or he is doing the legal speed limit, if other drivers are backed up behind him or her. No points would be deducted from the driver's license, but there would be a $200 fine.
Sponsor Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, said the proposal was suggested by the State Highway Patrol, which said tight clusters of cars backed up behind left-lane drivers and people trying to pass on the right cause more wrecks than speeders do,
"Only five states have no left-lane legislation," Hall said. "It's a public safety issue."
Co-sponsor Rep. John Hardister, R-Guilford, said he often encounters left-lane back-ups as he drives back and forth between Raleigh and his home district.
"It functions as a moving roadblock," Hardister said. "I’ve seen that happen where you have cars 20, 30 rows deep, and it’s dangerous."
Rep. David Rogers, R-Rutherford, questioned how Hardister was catching up to traffic clusters if he wasn't speeding.
"Sometimes, people go 5 mph over the speed limit. I move with the flow of the traffic," Hardister said. "Cars will get in the left lane and not quite go the speed limit."
But Rogers argued that the proposal would subject "lawful little grandma and grandpa" to being pulled over and fined for failing to get out of the way of an aggressive speeder.
"You’re following the law, doing the maximum speed allowed by law, (but) your new law would say you’re breaking the law if you don’t get out of the speeder’s way," Rogers said. "You’re making the very careful, law-abiding driver the lawbreaker."
"We are not trying to chase your grandma," Hall replied. "That aggressive driver is also going to get a ticket. They’re going to get a much worse ticket."
Hall also said that the proposal includes an 18-month period for public education before the penalties would take effect.
Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said some left-lane drivers may not be going as fast as they think: "Speedometers are not always precise."
The bill passed the House Judiciary I Committee with strong support after having passed the House Transportation Committee unanimously.
Its future in the Senate is uncertain, however. The Senate Transportation Committee earlier rejected an identical bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, so Senate leaders may refuse to consider it.