Move over: House panel advances bill to better block left lane road hogs
Driving on Mac Arthur causeway heading to Miami Beach on a cloudy day. Southern Florida, USA

Driving on Mac Arthur causeway heading to Miami Beach on a cloud
Some exceptions would apply.

To the delight of Florida motorists miffed at slowpokes hogging the left lane, legislation mostly restricting its use on highways for passing is speeding ahead.

Members of the House Transportation and Modal Subcommittee voted 16-0 for a bill (HB 317) that would create clearer rules against continuous left lane driving on thoroughfares with speed limits of 65 mph or more.

“This bill provides for a more safe and efficient flow of traffic and gives law enforcement clear standards about the use of the left lane,” said Fort Myers Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, the bill’s sponsor.

By improperly using the left lane, she said, drivers are creating “a dangerous situation where (they) unnecessarily camp out in the left lane, (leading) to blocking traffic flow, less predictability, more encounters, more passing maneuvers and more opportunities for accidents.”

HB 317 and its identical Senate companion (SB 258) by Gainesville Sen. Keith Perry come with some exceptions.

Naturally, the measure only applies to highways, roads and streets with two or more lanes going in the same direction. Drivers could still use the left lane to exit, turn or if directed to do so by law enforcement personnel or traffic control devices.

It also does not apply to authorized emergency vehicles or vehicles engaged in highway maintenance or construction. In cases where the leftmost lane is marked for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) use, the restriction would apply to the lane directly to the right of it.

HB 317 and SB 258 are substantively similar to measures Persons-Mulicka and Perry carried during the 2023 Session. Perry’s bill died before reaching a Senate floor vote. Persons-Mulicka’s bill was added to another measure that ultimately failed to pass.

According to MIT, every U.S. state has a law regarding proper lane usage, though they differ in specifics. Florida Statutes provide that motorists should drive in the right lane to keep from obstructing traffic and creating dangerous driving conditions, including right-lane passing and weaving from lane to lane.

But left-lane driving isn’t expressly prohibited. HB 317 and SB 258 would change that by making it a noncriminal traffic infraction punishable as a moving violation. “The statutory base fine is $60, but with additional fees and surcharges, the total penalty may be up to $158,” a House staff analysis said.

Staff noted the fine already applies to improper left lane usage under current statutes.

Perry called the existing law “ambiguous” when discussing his bill last Session.

“This makes it a little bit more clear,” he said, because the current law “is not working and it’s hard to enforce.”

HB 317 will next go to the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee, after which it will head for a floor vote. SB 258 awaits a hearing before the first of two committees to which it was assigned.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


7 comments

  • Clif Curry

    December 7, 2023 at 4:45 pm

    Punish the lane crawlers!

    • Julia

      December 7, 2023 at 5:06 pm

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  • rick whitaker

    December 7, 2023 at 4:53 pm

    clif, are you the famous singer clifford curry?

  • Richard C. Russell

    December 7, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    This bill is anti old people! Seriously,, there needs to be a law to get the slow pokes out of the passing lane!

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 8, 2023 at 7:36 am

    As if! As long as we drive, some bodies can’t follow ! Just human. But we should at least try for the common good!

  • Dont Say FLA

    December 8, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    Meanwhile Georgia continues the opposite policy with their “Super Speeder” fine of $200 additional dollars assessed upon anyone busted for driving 85mph, even in a 70mph zone where you’d need to be going 85mph to attract the attentions of an officer. When every ticked on the freeway is a “super speeder,” it’s hardly super speeding like when the silly law was created based on the ancient and outdate 55mph speed limit. Thanks to Republican Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia for that nonsense, and for every Republican Governor since Sonny for keeping the counterproductive, dangerous law on the books.

  • Andy

    December 12, 2023 at 10:44 pm

    Thank you for this one, and it needs to be enforced!

Comments are closed.


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