Mississippi bills out to clear left lane, rest areas

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, January 12, 2011

State law now requires vehicles driving slower than the normal speed of traffic to drive in the right-hand lane of multilane highways. Vehicles are allowed to merge left to overtake and pass slower moving traffic.

Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, has offered a bill that would keep more drivers to the right when traveling through Mississippi. Truckers and other drivers traveling below the posted speed limit on multilane highways would be required to stay to the right and yield to faster-moving vehicles. No fine amount is specified in the bill.

Exceptions would be made for vehicles in the left lane to overtake and pass another slow-moving vehicle.

Supporters say limiting the left lane for passing only would result in improved traffic flow, reducing the number of drivers who impede traffic.

Rep. Steven Horne, R-Meridian, is the sponsor of a separate bill intended to keep vehicles from using the same spot for more than three hours.

The bill would require MDOT to adopt and enforce rules and regulations to help ensure the safe operation, access and use of rest areas and facilities in the state. For instance, the agency would be responsible for designating approved parking spaces and restricting how long vehicles, including trucks, can use those spaces and facilities.

The state DOT would be responsible for posting signage at rest areas and facilities to notify travelers of the rules and regulations.

Currently, there are five welcome centers and five rest areas open for business. According to the state DOT, the Interstate 20 welcome center at Vicksburg is due to reopen in April. The Interstate 55 rest area near Hernando and I-20 rest area near Forrest and Morton are due to be available for travelers by the fall.

The rest area bill – HB119 – and left-lane use bill – HB115 – are in the House Transportation Committee. The deadline to advance bills from committee to their chamber floor is Feb. 1.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Mississippi, click here.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.