Pass the left lane bill, but don’t expect change

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 13, 2018

For the second time in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature, our state’s lawmakers are trying to enforce the rule of the road that states, “the left lane of a two lane highway or interstate is for passing only.”

It’s outlined briefly in our state’s driving manual. On page 54 of the manual concerning interstate highway driving it clearly states, “Use the proper lane at all times. The left lane is considered the ‘fast lane,’ and is to be used by through traffic.”

But time after time we all encounter that all too common driver who feels they are going just fast enough to warrant their permanent occupation of the “fast lane.”

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Fortunately here in South Mississippi, the roads are not too heavily occupied most of the time, which allows those motorists in more of a hurry to pass that slower driver who refuses to move over to the right lane. Lawmakers have taken notice of this prevalent issue.

Last year, the Legislature considered House Bill 511, which for one reason or another died in committee. This year, House Bill 80 aims to accomplish what 511 would have done had it become law. Both bills read nearly the same; their goal is to persuade all motorists to use the right lane when they are driving down a two or more lane road and save the left lane for passing. I support our senators and representatives in their effort to make the roads a less stressful place, but there’s an issue.

First, use of the left lane for passing only is already a rule of the road; passing a law will do little to entice those to follow what’s already in place. Second, while a small monetary penalty is outlined the bill ($5 to $50), I fear it would be enforced far too rarely to make a real impact. While I do hope the bill makes it all the way to the Governor’s desk this session, and becomes law, this is honestly something we could change with simple friendly reminders to those in the wrong lane.