There Should be a Law for That …

Written by Gregory Monte.

Do we really need more laws to try to control driver behavior?

Stay Right, Pass Left

Many states prohibit drivers from remaining in the left lane of a highway after they pass a slower driver.  I wrote a blog on this topic back in June called “A Traffic Ticket for Traveling in the Left Lane?where I pointed out that the duty to keep right unless passing is the rule in almost ½ of US States:

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

As I noted, the problem with these laws is that they are too vague – they don’t specify exactly how long you can remain in the left lane before you are required to pull back to the right.  This will be clear if you read the wording of the sections below:

Pennsylvania Title 75, Section 3313(d) – “… all vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lanes when available for traffic except when … overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.”

California Vehicle Code Section 21650 – “… a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway, except … When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.”

New York Article 25, Section 1120 – “a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway except … When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.”

New York to the Rescue?

Well, New York intends to clarify this vagueness with Senate Bill S6675A:

“Section 2 amends Section 1122 of the vehicle and traffic law by preventing a vehicle from being driven in a passing lane of an interstate highway without passing or overtaking a vehicle for more than one and one half miles.”

So, what is the big deal?  Shouldn’t I be happy that New York is taking the time to make the distance travelled straightforward?

I suppose, but think about what this will mean in practice.  The police are now going to have to waste their time and resources tailing drivers rather than doing real police work.  Its bad enough that cops are spending time on the side of the road trying to catch otherwise law-abiding people speeding.  At least in that case you could (possibly) argue that they might (potentially) be saving lives by slowing traffic down … speed kills, right?

But now you want them to waste gas by actually following cars?

Maybe while they are at it, New York should modify Section 1163(b) of its VAT Law:

“A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.”

Why not specify that the penalty is increased for every 10 feet a driver signals closer to the intersection.  That way cops can raise some real revenue – I mean, really protect motorists …

Cop: “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

Motorist: “No, officer, I don’t”

Cop: “Well, you were supposed to signal 100 feet before the turn and you didn’t signal until you were easily 82 feet away.”

Motorist: “Really?”

Cop: “Yes, and that is going to cost you bigly …”


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