Slow drivers in left lane could face new penalty

Posted April 13

— As many North Carolinians hit the highways for the Easter holiday weekend, state lawmakers are thinking about ways to make those trips smoother and safer.

Lawmakers have filed several bills this year relating to travel and traffic on state highways, such as one that would levy a hefty fine for people who tie up the passing lane.

House Bill 827 would impose a $200 penalty for drivers who drive in the left lane on a highway and won't move over, even when cars are lined up behind them waiting to pass. Drivers who do that could be charged with a new infraction called "impeding the steady flow of traffic," even if they're traveling at the speed limit.

Another proposal, House Bill 856, would make road rage an aggravating factor in criminal cases. If someone is convicted of assault, he or she would face harsher penalties if the victim is the driver or passenger of another vehicle or bicycle – or a pedestrian – and the incident happens on a roadway.

A third measure, House Bill 831, would ban drivers from using a handheld phone or other communications device while operating a car – only hands-free devices would be permitted. The measure makes exceptions for emergency calls, as well as navigation units mounted on the dashboard and smartwatches, as long as the driver is just checking the time. Violators could be fined $50.

The proposal is named after Brian Garlock, a Charlotte high school student who died in an accident in 2008 after being distracted by his phone. Similar bills filed in past sessions have not received a vote.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Rodney Hill Apr 18, 2017
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Or they could just follow the rules of the road and drive in the right lane. If you're impeding traffic (regardless of your speed or the other driver's speeds) you should get a ticket. Why is this so difficult to understand?

    From my experience in ~80,000mi of driving per year in 30 or so states...the person cruising in the left lane is rarely speeding. But it doesn't matter, it creates a very dangerous (and unnecessary) situation when you have dozens of cars traveling at ~100ft/s.

  • bclark1258 Apr 18, 2017

    View quoted thread

  • D. Aaron Hill Apr 17, 2017
    user avatar

    Finally! Drive like you have a purpose and somewhere to be.

  • Tom Marthers Apr 17, 2017
    user avatar

    I think this is a waste, they don't enforce the txting law enough, so people do it. Agreed most slow drivers are on cell phone, texting or the elderly. Like someone said, I sometimes drive in the left lane because the road is smoother, but I only do that if the road is rough on the right lane, so it is not a norm for me to ride in the left. However, I move over if I see a car coming up behind me. I usually go over about 5 mph, I don't want to get a ticket, etc... But I stay in the Right lane most of the time. It is actually dangerous to get in the left land in early mornings going to work, and in the evening, I see people passing me by, I know they are going 15-20 mph over the limit, which is a safety concern.

  • Ken Ackerman Apr 17, 2017
    user avatar

    If I'm driving 82 in a 65 and I'm passing people then I'm not moving to the right until it's clear. If you want to go 100+ mph then maybe you should get a helicopter.

    Many seem to think that the left lane is the fast lane even on city streets. I've had people act ugly because I wouldn't move to the right even through I needed to turn left at the next intersection, which oddly enough is where they got the chance to inform me of their displeasure.

    People just need to calm down. My biggest objection to adamant second amendment fans is road rage shootings. I know of two cases in the last year where innocent toddlers were killed because the driver did "something" that irritated another driver. In both cases the shooting driver said, "I didn't know there was a kid in the car".

    Now I get just as irritated as anyone if there's a car in the left lane going 5 below the limit or varying their speed dramatically but creating another law they won't follow won't change their behavior.

  • Marshall Autry Apr 15, 2017
    user avatar


  • Pierre Tong Apr 15, 2017
    user avatar

    I'm curious how the ticket will be handled in court when someone gets one for "impeding traffic" but is also traveling at the speed limit. Technically there is nothing they can legally do because they are going at the fastest legal speed.

  • Paul Edwards Apr 14, 2017
    user avatar

    First thing people, cut the danged cruise control off when in traffic. No one drives the same speed as your car is set. Second, stay out of the far left lane unless you drive faster than the speed limit. LEO's will handle that. Pick a lane and stay in it. Changing lanes at 70mph causes most of the crashes.

  • Richard Hertz Apr 14, 2017
    user avatar

    Some states have a law in effect, left lane is for passing only!!! I wish NC would do the same. Enough of these drivers that drive under the speed limit and think that they are doing the highway patrol a service! If I speed, I'll pay the price, but you as a driver need to stay out of the left lane unless you're passing someone.

  • Kiara Babel Apr 14, 2017
    user avatar

    Good. Some people do it just to be you know what, But like most of the driving laws it will be rarely Enforced, i travel in the right lane at the speed limit and vehicles fly pass me hardly ever seeing anyone stopped.