Oregon, Arkansas pursue left-lane use limits

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/18/2013

State lawmakers in multiple states are considering bills to keep most drivers out of the fast lane.

An Oregon bill would make the left lane off limits for everything except passing.

Truckers already are prohibited from using the far left lane but Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, thinks that limits should be in place for all vehicles that may impede traffic.

“We need to give the Oregon State Police more enforcement authority to make sure that traffic flows smoothly and safely,” Burdick testified to the Senate Business and Transportation Committee.

Supporters, including OOIDA and the National Motorists Association, say that blocking the left lane, whether intentional or not, results in reduced road safety and efficiency.

Oregon State Police Captain Ted Phillips told lawmakers that some “negative driving behavior occurs when drivers get frustrated with someone in the left lane.”

“If the left lane is used exclusively for passing, the roads will be safe and all drivers will be less frustrated,” Burdick said.

The lane use rule under review in Oregon wouldn’t apply in congested traffic.

In Arkansas, a similar effort is being pursued. State law now requires drivers to merge right only when another vehicle is trying to pass.

A House bill would make lane use off limits for anything other than passing.

Lawmakers in Georgia and Utah failed to approve efforts to limit left-lane use on highways. A related effort in Florida was withdrawn from consideration.

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.

The bill sought to apply the rule to all vehicles traveling through Utah, regardless of speed. Specifically, any vehicle traveling in the left lane that’s overtaken and passed by at least two vehicles to the right would have been in violation.

In Georgia, a similar effort failed to meet a deadline to advance. It included a list of 10 exceptions for using the fast lane.

Editor’s Note: You are welcome to share your thoughts with us about this story. Comments may be sent to state_legislative_editor@ooida.com.

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