Effort to clear Florida's left lanes heads to governor

| 4/20/2005

An effort intended to keep most drivers out of Florida’s fast lanes is headed to Gov. Jeb Bush.

House lawmakers voted 113-4 April 14 to give the measure their final approval. The Senate approved the bill 28-10 a week earlier.

Rep. Ken Sorensen, R-Key Largo, said he sponsored the bill – HB157 – to combat aggressive driving on the state’s multilane highways by reducing the number of drivers in the far left-hand lane.

Dubbed the “Road Rage Reduction Act,” it would give law enforcement more authority to ticket drivers who block traffic, even if they are driving the speed limit.

Opponents say the bill is “code for increasing speed limits” and supports the actions of speeding drivers rubbing up behind slower drivers. Supporters say the measure would avert dangerous situations where frustrated motorists stuck behind a slower-moving vehicle try to pass on the right.

Those who lag in the left lane could be ticketed and fined $60 with four points against their driver’s licenses.

The law would not apply when there are no other vehicles in the left lane.

Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said the effort’s intent is simple.

“We’re trying to figure out a way to increase traffic flow and prevent citizens from accidents and road rage,” he told the Sun-Sentinel.

Supporters nixed an effort to add a provision to the bill that would have permitted law enforcement to pull over drivers for not buckling up. Currently, officers can issue seat-belt citations to drivers only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation.

Florida is one of 28 states without a primary seat-belt law. Twenty-one states allow police to pull over drivers solely for not wearing their seat belts. New Hampshire is the only state without a mandatory seat-belt law.