Alabama legislature passes bill to crack down on slow left lane drivers
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Tuesday passed a bill making it a misdemeanor to drive in the leftmost lane on an interstate for more than 1.5 miles without passing another vehicle, with exceptions.
HB 212, sponsored by Rep. Phillip Pettus (R-Killen) and entitled the “Anti-Road Rage Act,” would be effective on the first day of the third month after it becomes law. Law enforcement officers would only be able to issue warning citations to violating drivers in the first 60 days following the law’s effective date.
The bill previously passed the House and now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.
Exceptions allowed by the bill are as follows:
- When traffic conditions or congestion make it necessary to operate a vehicle in the leftmost lane.
- When inclement weather, obstructions or hazards make it necessary to operate a vehicle in the leftmost lane.
- When compliance with a law, rule, ordinance or traffic control device makes it necessary to operate a vehicle
in the leftmost lane.
- When exiting a roadway to the left.
- When paying a toll or user fee at a toll collection facility.
- If the vehicle is an authorized emergency vehicle operated in the course of duty.
- If the vehicle is operated or used in the course of highway maintenance or construction.
An amendment added to the bill before it passed the House further specifies that vehicles traveling through construction zones are exempt.
During House debate on the bill, Pettus explained that current law already mandates that slower drivers move to the right but this bill would clarify that mandate and add specificity. He said Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) would put up signs on the interstate advising drivers that the left-hand lane is for passing only and include the proposed law’s 1.5-mile distance parameter. ALDOT is also poised to spend $25,000 on public service announcements if the legislation is signed into law.
Pettus is a retired state trooper and spoke from his experience with enforcing interstate traffic laws and seeing accidents caused by slow left-hand lane drivers.
“It’s a big problem in Alabama. It slows traffic down,” Pettus said, advising his bill would speed the flow of interstate travel and commerce.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn