For many of us, there is nothing more annoying than some jack-wagon who insists on puttering along in the express lane of the freeway, blocking any hope you might have of getting up to the actual speed limit. Indiana state representative David Ober decided to do something about this issue after being stuck behind one of these numbskulls one afternoon, and sure enough, Indiana has just agreed to launch a war on anyone dawdling in the left lane.
This new law carries a $500 fine when it goes into effect this July, as all cars traveling in the fast lane will have to yield to anyone barreling down behind them. It doesn’t matter what speed the car is going, if a driver has issues keeping up with traffic and yielding to more confident drivers they will be ticketed.
As Indiana joins a dozen or so other states in an effort to keep us all up to speed, we are seeing both praise and backlash from drivers. Supporters say these laws will help prevent road rage and promote safety. Just look to Germany’s Autobahn and you will see how well a high-speed, courteous driving system works on a large scale. National Motorists Association Vice President, John Bowman, says his organization is all for this kind of structure, and that he proudly rallies for increasing our speed limits while restricting the use of speed cameras. “When you allow faster traffic to pass on the left, you cut down on the conflicts between vehicles,” he says.
But not everyone shares Mr. Bowman’s opinion on the matter, and many feel that these laws will only encourage people to drive all the more recklessly. There also is the issue with semis, which often have issues passing one another (especially when on an incline) so truckers are disgruntled that they may be ticketed for attempting an overtake in the wrong state. And then there is the topic of the quality of vehicles allowed on our roadways. It seems like every time we hit the interstate there is some clunker plodding along in front of us with its muffler haphazardly hanging off and its two front tires shaking violently. Somehow these cars are allowed on our roads, and they are the last thing we want to see driving at higher speeds.
The Washington Post reports that this law is so extreme that drivers who are speeding can even get a ticket for slowing down traffic, which has left many wondering how fair this new mandate will be come July. State Senator Karen Tallian highlighted this point when she argued “You can be driving down the road at 70 miles per hour, doing the speed limit, and some joker comes up behind you doing 90 and you’re the one who gets the ticket?” And while pulling people over for this offense is up to an officer’s discretion, many cops admit they would sooner pull over a tailgater or an aggressive swerver sooner than they would a lane hog.
This whole mess began back when Congress thankfully repealed the National Maximum Speed Law in 1995, allowing states to set their own speed limits and absolving the 55 mile per hour maximum limit that had been in place for decades. Representative Ober of Indiana made a point: “What’s more dangerous than a speeder on the highway than someone who weaves, or someone who has to come to a dramatic stop.” He also argued that keeping the left lane open may cut down on swerving and tailgating, which are common reactions by frustrated drivers stuck behind a slow driver.
According to the Washington Post’s report Ober’s petition was based upon a law that Georgia began enforcing recently, and he believes that drivers will be more mindful of their driving habits when the threat of a ticket hangs over their heads. The southern state has indeed seen a decrease in traffic related clogging according to the report, so the system is working, but officers are not always keen on the idea of pulling someone over for hogging the left lane, and many of them would sooner just flash their lights at a driver than ticket them.
Sgt. Kevin Pope of the Georgia State Patrol estimates that he’s issued warnings to about 25 cars in the past year. “I’ve just been trying to educate people” he said. “Once you explain it to them, they’re like, “Yeah that makes sense.’'” And nothing reminds people that they need to get the hell over quite like a $500 “slowing ticket.”
Check out Autos Cheat Sheet on Facebook