House passes bill to combat slow left lane drivers in Alabama
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday 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.
The vote was 61-24.
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.
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 further specified that vehicles traveling through construction zones are exempt.
During 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 ALDOT would put up signs on the interstate advising drivers that the left-hand lane is for passing only and include the new law’s 1.5-mile distance parameter. ALDOT is also poised to spend $25,000 on public service announcements about the law if it goes into effect.
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.
A few members of the House raised concerns that enforcement of the 1.5-mile restriction would be hard, as a law enforcement officer would have to be traveling close behind a violating vehicle for at least that distance before initiating a traffic stop.
Rule 32 was invoked by the House during its debate, meaning only members physically in the chamber at the time of the final vote could have their vote counted.
The bill can now be taken up by the Senate.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn