There’s a big part of me that says the so-called “slow-poke bill” makes a lot of sense. For those not in the know, Georgia House Bill 459 otherwise known as the “slow poke bill,” will allow authorities to ticket those who engage in “lurking in the left lane.” Most of us who have been driving a long time know that is has been road etiquette for ages to assume that slower drivers travel in the right lanes and those who drive faster stay in the far left lanes on the Peach State’s highways.
Certainly there are good intentions with HB 459 which makes it a misdemeanor for those who do not get out of the way. Still the bill has a few problems. It’s a bit tough for authorities to enforce. How does a patrol officer accurately and honestly witness a left lane lurker? Sure there are situations where it’s a no-brainer, but in most cases, it will be tough to determine. Heck, it’s tough for city, county police or state patrol to issue tickets for distracted driving let alone determining who is a left lane lurker. Also, if someone is traveling at a high rate of speed in the left lane or any lane isn’t he or she speeding? Just saying – but speeding isn’t the primary issue in this bill. According to a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, “Senators said that they were not trying to encourage speeding. However, as Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, said, ‘often times drivers travel through (the left lane) as if they’re in tourist mode.’”
My own beef with the bill is that it encourages bullying. A perfect example of such behavior is when one is on a road like Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Norcross. When heading north into Peachtree Corners, one may choose to stay in the left lane knowing full well that when passing over Jimmy Carter Boulevard, a stop light is not too far in one’s path. On many occasions, I stay in that left lane doing the speed the limit. In certain situations, there are those who wish to go well over the speed limit urging folks to get out of the way. Aside from the fact that we are going to be at a stoplight less than a mile away, there are a lot of cars in the nearby lanes thus making it difficult to get out of the speeders’ way.
I had a so-called left lane lurker incident occur several years ago. Do not get me wrong: I was no left lane lurker. Believe it or not an elderly man was speeding. Yes, highly unusual no matter where one drives, but this was a tough guy who sported a USO sticker on his car. Obviously at the time the guy was in a hurry weaving in and out of traffic on the way to Peachtree Corners. When he got behind me we were just approaching the fork where Peachtree Industrial Boulevard splits off to the right over to Norcross and Peachtree Parkway splits to the left into Peachtree Corners. We were not only approaching the Holcomb Bridge Road stoplight, but there was construction at the intersections. With very little time and room, I got out of the lane and let him go forward. When we came to a complete stop, he had to sit in the construction traffic while I had the sense to go forth, avoid the construction and turn left onto Holcomb Bridge Road. I smiled and waved at the fella and he returned the gesture with a middle-finger salute. Look, I understood the guy’s frustration. It’s no secret that it’s beyond tough to be in a hurry in this town, but the guy not only bullied me, but scores of others on the road. In these instances, this bill only gives the green light for hurried drivers to take out their aggression on the road.
At the moment, I feel that this is one of those feel-good pieces of legislation that is a hit with constituents. The bill heads to the governor’s desk where he will most likely sign it into law. Still, it’s understandable that there are not only left lane lurkers, but lurkers of all stripes including distracted ones on the road. Indeed they are a pain to deal with on the road, but the jury is out if this bill will make life a little better on the road.