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Bill Could Make Driving In Passing Lane Illegal

Legislation has been introduced in the state Senate to make driving in the passing lane without actually passing another vehicle illegal.

S.6675A has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, was introduced in late August. It would create a violation of the state Vehicle and Traffic Law if a driver is in the passing lane of an interstate highway without passing or overtaking a vehicle for more than 1.5 miles. A first-time violation would result in a $50 find with subsequent violations resulting in a $100 ticket.

“‘Coasting’ in the passing lane along an interstate highway poses a safety risk to other vehicles, disrupts the flow of traffic and can lead to road rage,” Griffo wrote in his legislative justification. “This bill would encourage individuals to occupy the left lane only when passing or overtaking another vehicle or to comply with the state’s Move Over law. In doing so, traffic will be allowed to move more efficiently and safely.”

Wyoming, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, New Jersey, Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Virginia, Minnesota and Illinois have laws mandating drivers remain in the right lane unless they are passing a slower vehicle. An April 2019 report by WTOP in Virginia noted there had been 1,951 citations filed across the state for failing to drive on the right half of the highway except when overtaking and passing another vehicle between July 1, 2017, and April 3, 2018.

Another 14,815 people were cited in the same time frame under a broader section of the law that requires any vehicle traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right except when passing a vehicle or preparing for a left turn.

Minnesota’s left lane law took effect Aug. 1. The newspaper reported the state has had a requirement on its books that slow-moving drivers use the right lane and allow other vehicles to pass, but that requirement is now codified in state law. It has a $50 fine and court costs. Minnesota’s law does not alter the state’s move over law, which requires moving over a lane if possible to provide room for emergency vehicles and police.

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