Slowpokes in left lane face fines under Georgia bill

ATLANTA --- Legislation to fine poky lane hogs is speeding along with a firm push from the House on Monday after a quick debate.


The House voted 129-29 in just seven minutes to pass and send to the Senate a bill that would set a minimum fine of $75 for any motorist driving less than the speed limit in the left lane who refuses to pull to the right when a faster vehicle approaches.

Rep. Mark Butler, R-Carrollton, said when he introduced House Bill 1047 it was to address a common complaint of drivers.

"I don't think I'm alone in saying this, but there are so many times when you're alone on a four-land road, and people will get over in the left-hand lane, which by law is supposed to be used for passing, and will just sit there and use it as their own personal drive-out lane, and they may be going 50 miles per hour. It's slowing down traffic," he said. "It's frustrating."

Hogging the left lane at slower speeds is already against the law, but state officials say they don't track tickets in a way that allows them to report how many are written for it each year.

Neither the existing law nor Butler's bill would affect drivers who are maintaining the speed limit. Butler said he wouldn't encourage anyone to exceed the speed limit.

Bob Dallas, the director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, describes the bill as helpful to officers in enforcing lane discipline.

"Driving in the correct lanes, at the correct speeds, has the possible effect of reducing crashes and increasing the vehicle-carrying capacity of our highways," he said.

The AAA Auto Club South sees a benefit, spokeswoman Jessica Brady said.

"Granted, it may seem odd to fine people for driving too slow, but it could help avoid some dangers," she said.

"As long as they're not allowing speeders to speed and get away with it, in the same respect they are not allowing someone to go well below the speed limit."

The measure needs a vote by the Senate and the governor's signature to take effect July 1.

Crossover day moved back

State lawmakers are again stopping the clock on the legislative calendar to give them more time to agree on a budget and move a crush of bills through committee. The Senate and House each voted Monday to move Crossover Day -- the deadline for a bill to pass at least one chamber -- to Friday. It had been set for Thursday.

-- Associated Press