Bill to clear Florida's left lanes dies

| Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A bill intended to keep most drivers out of fast lanes on Florida highways died. This is the second year in a row the effort has been defeated.

The Florida Legislature approved a bill last year intended to combat aggressive driving on the state’s multilane highways by reducing the number of drivers in the far left-hand lane. But Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed the effort saying it would punish people driving the speed limit for not getting out of the way of speeders.

Dubbed the “Road Rage Reduction Act,” it called for giving law enforcement more authority to ticket drivers who block traffic, even if they are driving the speed limit. A failure to stay to the right would be included as one of the offenses that make up “aggressive careless driving.”

The bill was changed this year when it was introduced in the House of Representatives to address some of the governor’s concerns, The Miami Herald reported. However, it wasn’t enough to make a difference. This year’s version – HB1395 – won approval in a House committee but was not taken up for consideration by the full chamber before the session ended.

The revised measure would have prohibited travelers from driving in the left lane of a multi-lane highway if they were about to be overtaken by another vehicle. The old version would have allowed law enforcement to issue citations to drivers who used the left lane for anything other than passing.

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

The bill also changed, from two to three, the number of driving offenses that must be committed at one time to constitute “aggressive careless driving,” The Herald reported.

Violators would have faced a $100 fine in addition to any other fines. Repeat offenders would have faced as much as a $500 fine and a mandatory court appearance.

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