Left-lane restrictions come up short in South Carolina

| 6/20/2005

Motorists in South Carolina can continue to poke along in the far left lane of multilane highways in the state, thanks to a veto from the governor.

With a 50-59 vote, the state’s House failed to override Gov. Mark Sanford’s veto of a law intended to combat aggressive driving on interstates in the state by prohibiting drivers from lingering in the left lane. The Senate tried to override the veto by voting 36-6, a margin well beyond the two-thirds majority required to override.

The bill, passed in the final days of the session that ended earlier this month, called for reserving the left lane for passing only.

Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, the bill’s sponsor, said left-lane drivers force others to pass them on the right, causing accidents and frustration.

“It’s the No. 1 cause of road rage in South Carolina,” he told the Greenville News.

The governor defended his veto and said, “I personally sympathize with the feelings that motivated this legislation,” but I vetoed it because of the severity of the penalties.

Drivers found in violation could have faced a $150 fine with two points added to their driver’s licenses.

“This is a strong consequence … in light of another bill recently delivered to me that would set the fine for failing to wear a seat belt at only $25,” Sanford wrote in his veto message.

The rule would not have applied when there were no other vehicles in the left lane. Also, drivers would have been exempt if they were in the left lane to turn or exit, or if traffic wouldn’t allow them to merge back to the right.

Peeler told The Charleston Post and Courier he’d try again next year.