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A passing act

ROAD RAGE REDUCTION ACT: The Florida House passed the bill Tuesday with the intention of keeping traffic moving.

By ALISA ULFERTS, Times Staff Writer
Published April 6, 2005

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They're the motorists who pull into the left-hand lane and stay there, angering other drivers.

The Road Rage Reduction Act, passed Tuesday by the Florida House, is intended to keep traffic moving and hold tempers in check.

The bill, which the Senate could take up today, generally prohibits highway motorists from driving in the left-hand lane unless they are passing.

That means, critics say, motorists could be ticketed for obeying the speed limit.

But supporters say the bill is needed because some drivers won't budge from the left-hand lane. They impede traffic and encourage other motorists to dart between lanes, leading to accidents, said Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, who sponsored the Senate measure (SB 732).

"If you have an accident at 75 mph, people are going to die," Bennett said Tuesday.

The legislation has strong support from the Police Benevolent Association, the Florida Highway Patrol and Florida sheriffs.

"I think it's going to fly through here," Bennett said, predicting overwhelming approval.

The House version (HB 157) passed the House on Tuesday, 109-4. House sponsor Ken Sorensen, R-Key Largo, said the bill will make the streets a kinder, safer place to drive.

"It will return us to a time of good courtesy," said Sorensen.

But Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, one of four lawmakers who voted against it, said the bill encourages speeding and punishes people who follow the speed limit.

Drivers who fail to comply could face a $60 fine and four points against their license.

In at least 21 states, slower traffic is expected to keep right, except for emergency vehicles, which are permitted to exceed the posted speed limit, but only when their lights and sirens are on.

In some states, laws specify "keep right except to pass."

Illinois passed a law two years ago imposing a $75 fine on drivers who slowpoked in the left lane. And Colorado's "Keep Right Except to Pass" law took effect last July.

Florida isn't the only state considering road rage bills this year. Indiana, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania lawmakers have proposed bills that run the gamut from making certain road rage incidents a felony to establishing a toll-free hotline for drivers to report road rage.

"This is going to help us in the fact that a lot of aggressive driving road rage we see is where there's slower traffic in the left lane and faster cars approach from the rear and pass on the right and cause a crash," said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Larry Coggins Jr.

Many times, the slower driver will decide, "I'll show them," and drives even slower instead of getting out of the left lane, he said.

The faster driver then passes on the right, cutting off other motorists, or tries to pass on the left in the median, losing control.

Coggins disputes opponents who say that the bill would punish people for maintaining the speed limit.

No one wins when a crash happens, he said.

"Don't put yourself in that position to get rear-ended. You can get yourself hurt or killed," he said. "Be part of the solution, not part of the problem."

Times staff writers Saundra Amrhein and Steve Bousquet and researcher Kitty Bennett contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.
 

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I think this is awesome, as I can't stand arrogant SOBs who camp out in the left lanes doing the speed limit or less, oftentimes causing traffic to pile up and become very congested behind them... (sorry grandpa, but I CAN'T STAND your stories about how you do this all the way down from DC and back)

Plus, I believe that this will actually help police catch the morons doing like 100mph, by allowing them to focus more on the leftmost lanes and track speeders more easily.
 

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Call me a cynic but I completely agree with Brickell.

Look, law enforcement is lax and there is little attempts to enforce road laws. You occasionally see people busted for drunk driving or reckless driving but there are mahy cases where drunks are getting away scott free, reckless drivers aren't caught, people without licenses are driving without concern and driving becomes more of a hazard because of all this.

the lane thing doesn't really help highways seeing there are multiple lanes to jump across. How do you enforce this law on 6 or 8 lane stretches of road? Hell, how do you enfoce this period when polic eofficers tend to not care about traffic situations as is?

This is as empty a gesture as the bullet train turned out to be because the legislature did not enforce the will of the people. It's as empty a gesture as the School Class Size ammendment because the goernment hates the ammendment. Local law enforcement simply won't care after a few days/ weeks with this law in effect.
 

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This is Fantastic! I am usually a pretty happy-go-lucky person, until I get on the road. We have way too many people on the interstate that drive slow as hell in the left lane. Makes me want to pull my hair out.
I always wondered why the cops didn't ticket these slow pokes. Hopefully they will start!
 

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What the law actually says (at least according to an angry letter I saw printed in the miami herald) is that it bans driving in the left lane for any reason other than passing. Which would effectively remove one lane from every highway in the state and would not be too good for our traffic situation.
 

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dave8721 said:
What the law actually says (at least according to an angry letter I saw printed in the miami herald) is that it bans driving in the left lane for any reason other than passing. Which would effectively remove one lane from every highway in the state and would not be too good for our traffic situation.

Generally, anyone driving in the left lane IS passing the rest fo traffic. That is, except for what gandpa grunt get sover there and leaves his cruise 5mph below the speed limit to "teach us a lesson".
 

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Oh, I don't drive like that in the left lane. But aside from the fact that my post was an attempt at humor (which you missed), while I disaprove of driving slowly in the left lane, I perceive that the clamorous complaints about slow left-lane drivers belies a spirit of entitlement to speed.
 

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Times are indeed dark in that we don't enforce the laws we have, while constantly adding new ones.

Good tip about tire inflation. Maybe we should pass a law requiring proper inflation levels. We could increase taxes to pay for tire-check plazas which would be situated every 25 miles or so. Of course each of these plaza would have a Nathan's and a Dunkin Donuts. And also those machines which make the wax dinosaurs.
 
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