If a bill working its way through the Georgia General Assembly becomes law, motorists might at least think twice
before clogging the passing lane.
House Bill 459, which has cleared the House and this week sits before the Senate Public Safety Committee, would make it a traffic offense to loiter in the left lane. Drivers who refuse to pull out of the lane to allow faster traffic to proceed could be charged with a misdemeanor citation.
“Keep right except to pass.” That simple five-word message appears in bold lettering on white rectangular signs posted throughout the state’s multilane highway system. Sadly, it’s a directive too many discourteous motorists can’t be bothered to follow.
If passed, the law will not be an immediate panacea for passing-lane impoliteness. But it could gradually nudge drivers toward compliance through increased public awareness, similar to how seat belt laws promoted more drivers to buckle up in the 1980s and ’90s.
Let’s face it: Left-lane loiterers slow the flow of traffic, impede emergency vehicles and inspire road rage.
Drivers might insist they should not have to move out of the left lane if they are traveling the speed limit. But they’re missing the intent of the law – to promote courteous driving.
If the motorist trying to pass you wants to travel faster than the posted speed limit, that’s their business, not yours.
“You need to make every effort to let (vehicles) pass,” Richmond County Sheriff’s Lt. Ramone Lamkin said. ”You never know what’s going on. It could be an emergency.”
Rep. Bill Hitchens, a Rincon Republican and a former head of the Georgia State Patrol, is sponsoring the bill. He compared the legislation to golf course etiquette, whereby slower players allow faster groups to play through.
“This is the good manners your mother should have taught you,” Hitchens said.
Or your driving instructor. Courtesy is a vanishing art among motorists, and it’s past time for it to reappear.