(News-Press) -- A new state law effective today makes it a $60 fine to drive 10 mphbelow the posted speed limit in the left lane on major Florida roadways.
"Ifyou're going to ride in the left lane and stay in that lane, you needto go the speed limit," said Bobby Interian of Naples, who stopped forfuel at the Pilot Travel Center on Luckett Road off I-75 Sunday.
The left lane violation is one of a number of new road rules and other laws that became active today.
Other new laws activated today include revising state law to mirror federallaw banning truckers and other commercial vehicle operators from textingwhile driving or talking on cell phones unless they use a wirelessdevice. The bill makes texting a primary offense for truckers, whichmeans they can be pulled over for committing the offense.
A similar law that affects passenger vehicle drivers goes into effect Oct. 1.
Additionally,drivers may now provide law enforcement their proof of insurance via amobile device, in lieu of a paper identification card.
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Theleft-lane provision stipulates drivers on any road with four lanes maynot drive more than 10 mph slower than the posted speed limit in theleft lane if they know they are being overtaken.
Drivers preparing for a left turn at an intersection or who are overtaking another vehicle are not affected by the law.
Interiansaid that the left lane is for people who are going at the top speedallowed on the freeway and those traveling slower should not blocktraffic.
"I go thespeed limit, sometimes a bit faster, and I stay in the middle lane andpeople are always passing me," he said. " If you want to be in that(left) lane and hold up traffic you should get a ticket."
Roberto Anderson of Fort Myers, fueling up at the Race Trac station on Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., agreed.
"If you are going to go under the speed limit there's no reason to go in the left lane," he said.
JeffFrost, public affairs officer for the FHP in Tallahassee, said there isno official grace period for the new law before officers begin issuingcitations.
Frost said issuing citations will be up to the individual officers.
"That's the way it is with any violation," he said. "It is the officer's discretion."
Frostsaid issuing of the citation will depend on several factors includingif there is another faster driver coming up on the slower left lane carand if the slower driver knows or has a reasonable chance to know thereis a faster vehicle approaching.
"It isn't automatic," he said, noting officers would have to see the offending vehicle moving at a measured speed.
In city areas the issue likely won't be as big as along limited access-type highways.
ShellyFlynn, public information officer for the Fort Myers Police Department,said the FMPD just doesn't see it as in issue with inner city driving.
"It'sreally more for interstate traffic," she said. However, she said FMPDofficers have been instructed in the new law and will be aware ofviolators.
Tony Schall, public information officer for the Lee County Sheriff's Office, said deputies would be watching for violators.
Theminimum speed limit on all national highways is 50 mph when the postedspeed limit is 70 mph, according to the Highway Patrol.
But,Frost said, if you are in the left lane, then you must be traveling 61mph or more to avoid being cited and incurring a $60 fine and threepoints on your license.
Drivers going from 50 to 70 mph in the right lane will not be cited, he said.
Asfor the new rules on electronic proof of insurance, Frost said drivershanding over a mobile device like an smart phone or tablet assume allresponsibility for the device.
Additionally, he said, officers will have the right to look only at the insurance information and nothing else on the device.
"It does not constitute access to any other information on the device," Frost said.
WalterQuarles, a trucker getting fuel at the Pilot stop Sunday, said the newlaw regarding texting and cell phone use by commercial truck drivers wasa good idea.
"Youshouldn't be texting anyway," he said. "A lot of companies don't likeyou to use your cell. You shouldn't do it, but sometimes you have tocall in to the dispatcher."
Quarles said his company prefers him to pull over before using a cell phone or texting.
"Fortunately, I have a hands free set," he said.
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