House set to vote on passing lane law

Posted June 14

— 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.


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  • Henry Cooper Jun 15, 1:47 p.m.
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    That is so misleading to take just part of section 3. The rest reads...

    "You cannot pass safely unless you can see far enough ahead to ensure that you can get back to the original lane of travel before you meet oncoming traffic. "

    So that is on a two lane road with no median not a multi-lane highway The section before addresses that in terms of "changing lanes" on a multi-lane highway.

    I am not condoning the speeding but I don't think we need people intentionally holding these folks up making them more impatient. It is only the LEO's job to correct that and we have all seen the moves made when an impatient driver wants thru. It is a lot more dangerous at times than it already is because someone is gonna tech them a lesson. That is a lot of what is going on if we are honest about it.

  • Larry Fellers Jun 15, 1:29 p.m.
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    Gives speeders another reason to break the law, watch out for more accidents...

  • Robert Swiger Sr. Jun 15, 1:21 p.m.
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    Glad to see it.

  • Edward Anderson Jun 15, 12:43 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    3. Blow the horn to signal the driver ahead.
    The horn signal places the driver of the vehicle you are passing under a legal
    obligation to help you pass."

    When was the last time you or anyone you know blew your horn to signal passing? So, if I'm blazing along a 4-lane highway and want to get around all the slow drivers, all I have to do is toot my horn and the other drivers are obliged to help me pass? KULE!

  • John Smith Jun 15, 12:22 p.m.
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    BS law. Directly from the NC Driver's Handbook, p.50 "When you are moving slower than the posted speed limit on a multi-lane highway, drive in the extreme right lane unless you are passing, turning left or avoiding an obstruction."
    Now, I do naturally stay in the right hand lane unless I am passing or my exit is coming up on the left side....but there is a bad interpretation of the highway system that people think the left hand land is strictly for passing. Both lanes of travel carry the same speed limit, so what part of LIMIT don't you understand? Like the handbook says...slower than posted speed limit keep right.

  • Teddy Fowler Jun 15, 11:11 a.m.
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    Common sense!! Do not drive in the left lane unless you are driving the same speed as everybody else in that lane... if you can move over then you should move over to keep it clear and available. It is just plain old common courtesy.

  • Janet Ghumri Jun 15, 11:02 a.m.
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    1) the terminology is important here, 'driving' lane and 'passing' lane.
    2) the same posted speed limit applies to all lanes.
    3) the passive aggressive (road rage) drivers who refuse to move out of the way should be dealt with, to reduce the dangers of drivers passing on the right at high speeds.
    If this new law saves lives, I'm all for it, but we know that drivers tap their brakes when they pass an officers car, I'm wondering about how they will determine who to pull over when we're all in the driving lane, purring along at limit +5?

  • Henry Cooper Jun 15, 8:56 a.m.
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    The current laws for three lane highways are all they are enforcing. You are not supposed to ride in the left lane on a three lane highway, you are to be in the middle for thru traffic.

    The bill is directed at the inside most lane next to the median regardless of the number so on a three lane highway riding in the middle is fine and actually what thru traffic is supposed to use on a three lane highway.

    This is not a new law really it is a fine for something that already exists you have seen the signs that read "Slower Traffic Keep Right".

    NC Drivers handbook.... Check page 50.... This is nothing new...


  • Tom Marthers Jun 15, 8:55 a.m.
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    It's common sense to MOVE over if someone is behind you, tailgating you to move to the right lane, even if you are doing the speed limit. Were paying people to actually discuss this, Wow.

  • Tom Marthers Jun 15, 8:55 a.m.
    user avatar

    It's common sense to MOVE over if someone is behind you, tailgating you to move to the right lane, even if you are doing the speed limit. Were paying people to actually discuss this, Wow.