Left-lane ‘pass only’ bill passes House

Proposed law would mandate penalties for non-passing drivers in the left lane of a highway.

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A proposed law would mandate penalties for non-passing drivers in the left lane of a highway.

It passed the House Tuesday 33-26.

From the Register-Guard:

Left-lane dawdlers or “hoggers” are a well-known cause of irritation for some motorists. Ten other states, including Washington, have therefore explicitly limited the left lane to “pass only.” A similar bill was introduced in the Oregon Legislature in 2013, but it failed to advance. Rep. Ken Helm, a Beaverton Democrat, said HB 3414 would make roads safer by reducing road rage incidents. It also would make it less likely for drivers to try to dangerously pass on the right.

“A lot of Oregonians are frustrated with those folks who are so clueless or inconsiderate” that they slow traffic by staying in the left lane, Helm said.

Washington state has a similar law already on the books and 14,000 citations were written last year, Helm said.

A Washington legislator is aiming to take that law a step further. Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) proposed an “aggravated left-lane driving” law that would penalize slow drivers relative to how much under the speed limit at which they are traveling.

From the Spokesman-Review:

Motorists already can get a $124 ticket for driving continuously in the left lane of a highway when it impedes the flow of traffic. Left lanes are supposed to be used for passing, moving aside for merging traffic, or preparing to make a left turn.

Baumgartner’s bill would add $27 for driving 1-5 mph under the speed limit, up to $67 for driving 16-20 mph under the limit. The bill got a hearing Thursday in the Senate Transportation Committee but hasn’t been sent to a budget committee for further consideration. Although the deadline for new bills has passed, this one involves fines so can be labeled “necessary to implement the budget,” making it eligible for consideration.