- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2023

Florida state lawmakers are considering a ban on driving in the leftmost lane except when overtaking and passing other vehicles or exiting the highway.

Existing state law requires drivers to exit the left lane if they know or reasonably should know that another driver coming up behind them is going to overtake them.

The bill’s author, state Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, Fort Myers Republican, said the existing law is hard to enforce and confusing for motorists, and her bill would lessen weaving in and out of lanes and improve traffic flow.

“If we have more predictable traffic flow, we don’t have the weaving in and out, we don’t have the gridlock. That’s less chances for accidents and less chances for incidences of road rage,” Ms. Persons-Mulicka told fellow lawmakers in Tallahassee.

The bill, which is known as HB421, has passed the first reading by the Florida House Transportation and Modals Subcommittee.

The proposed restrictions would only apply to roads with two or more lanes with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour or higher. On roads with high occupancy vehicle lanes, left turn lanes, or left lane highway exits, the leftmost lane as defined by the bill would instead be the lane directly to the right of the aforementioned special lanes.

An exception to the rule is made for emergency and maintenance vehicles. For regular drivers, a violation would be considered a noncriminal traffic infraction and would count as a moving violation. A fine of up to $158 would also be levied.

Law enforcement officials have criticized the current move-over law, saying that drivers often ignore it.

“They say, ‘Well, you know what? If I’m driving the speed limit, I shouldn’t have to move anywhere.’ Well, that’s not what the law says.  The law says regardless of their speed if another car comes up, you’re supposed to move over and let that person pass. It’s not only the courteous thing to do, but it’s the law,” Tampa Bay Police Department Officer Roy Paz told WTVT-TV in Tampa.

The companion bill, SB 464, was introduced in the Florida Senate by Sen. Warren “Keith” Perry, a Republican from north central Florida.

The House bill has one more stop in committee before reaching a floor vote. The Senate bill has to undergo three steps before reaching a floor vote, according to Florida Politics.

If the bill makes it through the House and is signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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