Louisiana House OKs bill to limit left-lane use

| 5/26/2009

The Louisiana House approved a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to ticket drivers who hold up traffic by lingering in the left lane. If signed into law, the Pelican State would be at least the third state this year to make changes to its lane use rule.

Louisiana law already prohibits vehicles from using the left lane if they are moving at less than the normal speed of traffic. But Rep. Reed Henderson, D-Chalmette, said it is difficult for the State Police to enforce the rule.

Intent on stopping “rolling roadblocks,” House lawmakers voted 75-15 to advance to the Senate a bill that would make the left lane off limits for cars and trucks except for passing. Exceptions would be made for preparing to turn at an intersection or when the right lane is congested.

“People are traveling in the left lane, which is clogging our highways up tremendously and I like to be able to get rid of clots just like we have in the arteries of our bodies. We have the same thing in the arteries of our economy, which is the highways,” Henderson told lawmakers during a recent committee hearing on the bill.

Owner-operator and OOIDA member Chuck Guintard of Lake Charles, LA, said he doesn’t believe the left lane issue needs to be revised. However, he notices the biggest abusers of the existing rule on left lane use are motorists from outside the state.

“In Louisiana we have a bunch of casinos. Anybody riding in that left lane and not going the speed limit always has a Texas license plate. It’s like when they cross the river to come over they forget how to drive,” Guintard told Land Line.

Guintard said the same holds true in other states.

“I don’t know what it is. They get out of their comfort zone, and they forget how to operate a vehicle,” he said.

The bill – HB855 – is in the Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee.

At least 20 states have similar left-lane restriction rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This year, Oklahoma and Kansas have enacted laws to limit left-lane use. In the Sooner State, the new rule allows law enforcement officers to crack down on slowpokes who clog traffic by driving in the left lanes of multilane roadways. It takes effect Nov. 1.

A similar rule change recently was signed into law in neighboring Kansas. The new law there limits use of the left lane for passing only. It applies only to highways outside city limits.