South Carolina bills cover truck lane ban, speed traps

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/16/2017

Truckers traveling along South Carolina interstates could soon face new restrictions on their use of the far left-hand lane.

South Carolina law already requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Exceptions to the lane rule are made for situations that include preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle.

A bill in the House Education and Public Works Committee would limit circumstances when commercial vehicles could use the left lane.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Crosby, R-Charleston, H3244 would require large trucks to move to the right when another vehicle is behind them. However, trucks could use the left lane while overtaking and passing other vehicles.

Other exceptions would include situations when traffic conditions, weather and congestion make it impractical to stay right.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation would be responsible for posting signage to alert truck drivers about the lane restriction.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that truckers are first-hand observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws, and while perhaps not intended, efforts to restrict trucks from certain lanes pose serious challenges for truckers and jeopardize the safety of the traveling public.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, has said that truckers contribute a significant amount of money to federal, state and local transportation accounts and they have every right to use any available lane.

He adds that the state’s existing keep-right law is an appropriate policy to ensure safety and maximize capacity.

A separate House bill covers concern about speed traps in the state.

Rep. Jimmy Bales, D-Richland, is renewing his effort at the statehouse to prohibit municipal speeding ordinances that do not follow the state’s uniform traffic code.

Bales initially brought up the issue in 2014 following a state attorney general opinion that said speeding ordinances in the tiny Clarendon County town of Turbeville and others like it are invalid.

According to reports, Turbeville Police enforce the town’s own speeding law that does not adhere to state code. As a result, fines in the town with a population of about 800 that is located off U.S. Highway 378 can exceed citation amounts authorized by the state by several hundred dollars.

Recent town financial statements also show that 75 percent of the hamlet’s $1.4 million budget was raised via traffic fines.

A civil suit filed a year ago against the town originally called Puddin’ Swamp calls for the ticketing practice to end and for fines to be repaid.

Bales’ bill, H3459, would adopt a rule that local governments are forbidden from enacting provisions that conflict with the state’s uniform traffic code.

The bill is in the House Judiciary Committee.

One more bill in the House Education and Public Works Committee covers a separate ticketing policy.

H3276 outlaws driving without a well-functioning speedometer. People cited for driving a vehicle up to 20 mph in excess of the posted speed limit would receive a separate $25 ticket for failure to maintain a well-functioning speedometer.

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

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