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Left lane drivers could face penalty if this Florida bill becomes law

Supporters of the bill point to statistics that show drivers having to slow down and change lanes is more dangerous than speeding.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Florida lawmaker is introducing a new bill that would make it illegal to drive continuously in the left lane unless you’re passing other traffic.

Right now, you’re supposed to move over for faster traffic, but the new law would make the left lane off limits for anything other than passing.

No doubt, most of us have been frustrated by it when a driver is in the left lane, moving slow, and not getting over to the right, and Florida is one of more than two dozen states that already have laws urging left lane drivers to move over.

But if House Bill 421 were to become law, the Sunshine State would join just eight others where cruising in the left lane is illegal except when passing slower traffic.

One of those states is Massachusetts, which is where Marcel Dery’s from. He and his wife were driving on I-75 Thursday.

“It takes getting used to, because you would like to keep going as fast as you can in the left-hand lane,” Dery said, “But you have to be aware that if you’re not pulled over there’s a chance that the police will pull you over.”

Proponents point to statistics that show drivers having to slow down and change lanes is more dangerous than speeding.

U.S. Department of Transportation research shows the strongest predictor of an accident happening is the relative change from the average traffic speed, and a car going 5 mph slower than surrounding traffic has a greater chance of causing an accident than a car going 5 mph faster.

But opponents say Florida roads are already too congested and taking away a whole lane of traffic is asking for trouble.

“Um, road rage, and more congestion,” said commuter Tammy Febus. “More people frustrated.”

“It’s a good idea,” Tom Conner said. “I just don’t think it’ll work because you’ve got so many people that are driving in the left lane better so fast you’re just gonna have a continuous flow of traffic anyway.”

According to the text of the bill, drivers would need to keep to the right side of the road on a street or highway that has two or more lanes and a speed limit of at least 65 miles an hour.

A similar idea did not make it through the last legislative session, but the sponsor of the bill says they’ve made some slight changes that might give it a better chance this year.

If it were to pass, the new law would be a non-criminal traffic infraction taking effect Jan. 1, 2024.

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