Just when you thought my blog posts were headed in a more docile direction, I was made aware of a new law making its way through several state legislatures, including my home state. It’s time for us to go back into the governmental waters and investigate this.
Some states have recently passed legislation that requires drivers to yield the left lane of 4-lane (or higher) highways to faster traffic. This “slow poke” law means that if you are caught cruising in the left lane while not passing another vehicle, you can be pulled over and ticketed. Considering that I am constantly driving faster than the speed limit (I’m one of those rare drivers willing to admit this), it would seem that I, and other lead-footed drivers, would be all in favor of such a law. After all, if people would just move over and get out of my way, then I could arrive at my destination with my blood pressure still intact. Right?
Yet, I think this is one of the dumbest ideas that state legislatures have ever conceived. Oh, let me count the ways….
First, laws which regulate highway traffic already exist. In my home state, and even in many in which I travel, I have seen signs along interstates admonishing slower drivers to stay in the right lane except to pass a slower vehicle. So if the law already exists in some manner, there is no need to pass another one that says the same thing. If the matter has become a problem, police officers can ticket drivers. The word will spread quickly.
Second, the Georgia Highway Patrol gave nearly 300 tickets for this infraction the first year after the law was passed. This makes me wonder, how many people chose to fight this in the court system? If even ten percent of those ticketed appeared in court, that is nearly thirty more cases that the court system had to field last year. Doesn’t the court system have more important matters to handle? Divorce, child custody, dead beat dads, robbery, vandalism, and more come to mind, all of which would be handled in an inferior court.
Third, this is a very subjective law. When a police officer pulls a driver over, most often he has only witnessed the vehicle for a few moments. How can he possibly know how fast every vehicle around was moving, who was passing, who was doing the speed limit, who was speeding, or other pertinent matters? It’s a different matter if the trooper witnesses a driver staying in the left lane for a few miles, but that is not what happens most often.
Furthermore, if car A is cruising in the left lane and is overcome by car B, who is traveling at 10 miles an hour over the speed limit, to whom should the ticket be given? Car A is where he shouldn’t be, but isn’t the more dangerous vehicle car B? What if car A doesn’t want to pull over because he sees another vehicle on the right shoulder up ahead and believes he should stay in the left lane to protect that driver? What if the driver of car A is actually willing to increase his speed but can’t due to traffic ahead of him that has not pulled over? These are all subjective situations in which the driver of a vehicle must base his decision on those things which he sees from his angle at that moment. How can any of this be regulated?
Finally, the last thing in the world we need is yet another law that invades our lives. Government overreach is not limited to the federal government. I can list many examples of an overreaching government at the state, local, and municipal levels. However, we can’t, nor should we, try to legislate courtesy, morality, or common sense. You should move out of the left lane when you see a fast approaching car in your rear-view mirror, not because you can get ticketed, but because it makes sense and is polite.
Perhaps rather than passing yet another ridiculous law, lawmakers could remove some of those laws that make it harder for parents to teach their children to practice good manners and appropriate behavior. Then they might just grow up to be courteous drivers who need no overreaching laws. Just a thought!