Passing lane bill fails to yield in Senate
Posted 12:42 p.m. Wednesday
Updated 12:58 p.m. Wednesday
Raleigh, N.C. — A Senate committee hit the brakes Wednesday on a bill that would have created a $200 fine for impeding traffic in the left lane of a limited-access highway.
Senate Bill 303 sponsor Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, said North Carolina is one of only five states that doesn't have some type of provision requiring left-lane drivers to move over when other drivers are seeking to pass them.
Tarte told the Senate Transportation Committee that his proposal is a hybrid of laws in Florida and Georgia.
"It's a safety issue, first and foremost," he said, noting that it would reduce passing on the right, congestion and road rage generated by left-lane drivers "trying to enforce the law with their own vehicles."
"It's not any individual motorist's responsibility to enforce the speed limit of another driver," he added.
The fine for a violation would not have included any license points, but members of the committee still couldn't go along with it as written.
Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, said he was pulled over once in West Virginia by a trooper for "impeding traffic" because he was going 55 in a posted 55-mph work zone, but 11 people behind him wanted to pass him.
"I was holding up traffic," Rabon conceded, "but traffic shouldn't have been going over 55."
Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, argued that a driver doing 74 in a 65-mph zone could get a left-lane yield ticket for not getting out of the way of drivers who want to go even faster.
"I would hate to think that I would be the one getting the ticket when somebody behind me is going faster than me," agreed Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes, adding that current law already allows officers to stop a vehicle for impeding traffic. "Why it's not being enforced, I can't tell you."
The measure failed almost unanimously on a voice vote, which means the measure is dead for the session. However, a companion bill remains alive in the House.