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Florida lawmaker wants to crack down on slow left-lane drivers

State law would make it easier for police to ticket drivers who coast in the left lane.
 
A proposed Florida law would make it easier for police to ticket drivers for coasting in the left lane.
A proposed Florida law would make it easier for police to ticket drivers for coasting in the left lane. [ courtesy Florida Highway Patrol ]
Published March 16, 2023|Updated March 16, 2023

TALLAHASSEE — We’ve all seen them: the drivers who cruise in the left lane on the highway, too often driving below the speed limit.

Now a Florida lawmaker wants to alleviate this nuisance by making it easier for police to ticket errant drivers.

Currently, state law says motorists in the left lane on a highway have to move over if they know, or reasonably should know, that they are being overtaken by a faster driver.

But that’s difficult for police to enforce and confusing for motorists, said Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Fort Myers.

House Bill 421, which she’s sponsoring, would change the law to say that motorists are forbidden from being in the left lane unless they’re passing another vehicle.

States across the country are moving to language that says that the left lane is for passing only, she said.

“If we have more predictable traffic flow, we don’t have the weaving in and out, we don’t have the gridlock,” Persons-Mulicka told lawmakers Wednesday. “That’s less chances for accidents and less chances for incidences of road rage.”

The bill passed its first committee unanimously on Wednesday.

The rule would only apply on roads or highways with at least 65 mph speed limits, and it would not apply to carpool lanes or left-side exit lanes.

The penalty for sitting in the left lane would remain a noncriminal traffic infraction with a fine of up to $158.

Drivers are rarely cited for staying in the left lane. The Florida Highway Patrol issued 207 tickets for this infraction in 2022 and 183 the year before, state records show.

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