Oklahoma bills would boost speeds, limit left lane use, help cops issue tickets

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A handful of bills at the Oklahoma statehouse would limit lane use, simplify issuance of citations, and authorize faster speeds for all vehicles on certain roadways.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill that would make the far left lane of multilane highways off limits for anything other than passing another vehicle.

Oklahoma law now requires vehicles driving slower than the normal flow of traffic to stay to the right on multilane highways. Vehicles are allowed to merge left to overtake and pass slower moving traffic.

Sponsored by Sen. Larry Boggs, R-Red Oak, SB1517 would apply to all vehicles, regardless of speed. Truckers and other drivers traveling on multilane roadways couldn’t stay in the far left lane.

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

The bill would also require signage to be posted on interstates alerting travelers to the left lane rule.

SB1517 awaits further consideration in the Senate.

Another bill in the Senate Transportation Committee would boost turnpike speeds by 5 mph.

The Sooner State now authorizes 75 mph travel for truckers and others on the turnpike system and rural interstates. Speeds on multilane divided highways are set at 70 mph while 65 mph speeds are allowed on smaller highways.

Sponsored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, SB1459 would authorize cars and trucks to drive 80 mph.

Advocates say the speed change could improve safety on roads because the disparity in vehicle speeds would be reduced.

On the House side, Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, offered a bill that would increase speed limits on four-lane divided highways and super two-lane highways from 70 to 75 mph.

HB2610 is in the House Public Safety Committee.

One more bill would make it easier for police to issue tickets.

Sen. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, introduced a bill that would allow police officers to issue electronic citations for such offenses as traffic, misdemeanor and municipal ordinance violations.

McAffrey said the rule would better protect officers by keeping them out of harm’s way.

“Routine traffic stops are one of the most dangerous times for officers to become injured because they don’t know what kind of situation or individual they’re approaching,” McAffrey said in a news release. “By allowing them to submit electronic citations, they’d no longer have to leave the safety of their car.”

A $5 fee would be added to speeding tickets and other traffic citations to help cover the program’s expenses.

SB1872 is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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