Driving bills are on the legislative table

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 10, 2017

Motorists may want to keep an eye on two bills being considered by the Senate.

Both bills, MS House Bill 511 and MS House Bill 539, if passed, could mean additional fines if the amendments they establish to current laws are violated.

HB511 establishes fines to motor vehicle operators that stay in the left lane indefinitely. This habit can be frustrating for motorists that abide by the current law, which states that slower traffic must utilize the right lane.

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As the law states, the left lane is to be used for passing slower vehicles only. The only exceptions listed in the law include when the right lane is closed, the right lane is in disrepair or when a vehicle is exiting from the left lane.

Instances of road rage have been attributed to vehicles staying in the left lane, preventing faster moving traffic from passing.

The second bill, HB539, if passed would mandate that all passengers in a vehicle, including those in the back seat, would be required to wear a seatbelt.

Research has shown that when everyone in a vehicle is wearing

a seatbelt, instances of injury or death are decreased. Educational videos depict what occurs during an accident when just one passenger does not wear a seatbelt and an accident involving a rollover occurs. The passenger not wearing a seatbelt becomes a projectile inside the cabin, striking all other passengers that are strapped in.

While these bills are common sense and, if obeyed, would make traveling in a vehicle much less frustrating and safer, but there are issues.

First, our state has a shortage of highway patrol troopers, meaning that the laws would be seldom enforced. Second, if they were enforced, the fines are so small, $25 for the seatbelt violation and up to $50 for the lane violation, that drivers would not be dissuaded from breaking these laws any more than they are now.

Even if the laws are passed, it will always be up to motorists to be considerate of other drivers and keep to the right when driving slower than the rest of traffic, and keep the safety of passengers and themselves in mind by reminding passengers to buckle up.

About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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