Delegate introduces bill to target slow drivers in left lane

By Chris Dickerson | Jan 16, 2019

CHARLESTON – A House of Delegates member has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to continuously drive in the left lane of a highway.

Gary Howell (R-Mineral) introduced the bill Jan. 16. Howell, who is chairman of the House Committee on Government Organization, said slow drivers in the left lane who keep other traffic from passing is a common frustration for West Virginia drivers.

“This has to be one of the biggest complaints we hear from motorists: why is it that some people just can’t seem to get out of the left lane when other people are trying to pass?” Howell said. “It’s time we crack down on these nuisance drivers.”

House Bill 2355 would make it a misdemeanor to continuously operate a vehicle in the left lane of a multilane roadway when doing so impedes the flow of other traffic. A first-offense conviction would carry a $100 fine, while each subsequent offense would be a $200 fine.

Howell said the bill is not just a matter of driver convenience, but public safety.

“Many interstate accidents occur while people are attempting to change lanes,” he said. “Forcing people to change lanes to get around a slow driver can pose a safety hazard to innocent motorists.”

Howell said it mostly is out-of-state drivers he sees causing these problems, adding that most West Virginia drivers are taught the left lane is supposed to be used for passing.

Sometimes called the "Slowpoke Law," 13 states currently have laws that fine drivers moving too slow in the left lane. They are Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Virginia.

Howell said he hopes the bill sends a message to motorists to improve courtesy and safety on West Virginia roadways.

“The purpose of this bill is to eliminate a nuisance that has bothered West Virginia drivers for years,” he said. “Hopefully, if we start cracking down on this poor behavior, we can improve the safety and peace of mind for all who use our roads.” 

The bill was referred to the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee. If it passes there, it will go to the Judiciary Committee before coming to the full House of Delegates for a vote.

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