Utah bills cover left lane use, runaway ramps

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/6/2013

Traffic and road safety efforts are among the issues getting attention at the Utah Legislature.

A Senate bill would limit left-lane use on highways in the state.

Utah 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.

Sen. Pete Knudson, R-Brigham City, introduced a bill to apply to all vehicles traveling through Utah, regardless of speed. Truckers and other drivers traveling on multilane roadways couldn’t stay in the far left lane.

Exceptions would be made for vehicles in the left lane to overtake and pass another vehicle. SB220 specifies that any vehicle traveling in the left lane that is overtaken and passed by at least two vehicles to the right would be in violation.

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

Knudson’s bill awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee.

The House voted unanimously to advance a bill to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk that would limit use of a runaway ramp for emergencies only. Blocking access to ramps by “stopping, standing or parking” in the pathway would also be prohibited. Senate lawmakers already approved SB123 by unanimous consent.

Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, acknowledged it’s a commonsense bill but said the protection is needed.

“It’s necessary to make sure the highway patrol has the ability to encourage people to move along and not block these very important safety ramps,” Van Tassell told Senate lawmakers during floor discussion.

Another bill on its way to the governor’s desk would authorize left turns on red at certain new intersections.

The Senate voted unanimously to endorse a bill that would post signage to permit traffic to turn left on a red arrow at new “diverging diamond” freeway interchanges. House lawmakers already approved HB272 on a 72-1 vote.

The new diverging diamond interchange design is intended to improve traffic flow and reduce idle time.

The authorization would be limited to situations when traffic is clear and signage authorizes such action.

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

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