By Lauren Beaubaire
There’s something about getting behind the wheel of a car that seems to bring out the worst in us: Something happens where we all lose our collective sense of empathy, common sense, and any iota of patience we possess. I get it – It’s difficult to reel in the emotions when you always encounter that driver who consciously “forgets” that turn signals exist, or the one who feels traffic lights are simply mere suggestions.
But what about the driver who hogs the left lane cruising along at a snail’s pace? Where you suddenly have to hit your own brakes or attempt to maneuver around them passing in the right lane? This situation is incredibly frustrating and potentially dangerous, and soon, hogging the left lane could become an actual crime here in Minnesota.
Republican State Senator John Jasinski has introduced a new bill that would bring stronger penalties for slow drivers in the left lane. What I didn’t already know, and you may not either, is that driving Granny Grunkles-style in the left lane is currently a petty misdemeanor, punishable by a $125 ticket. However, this new proposal by Senator Jasinski is making some waves as his bill would call for higher fines and possible jail time.
The proposed bill states that a driver “operating a vehicle at less than the speed of traffic under the existing conditions must drive in the right-hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” There would be exceptions of course if you’re passing a vehicle, preparing for a left turn, in a carpool lane, or exiting from the highway on a left exit.
While the initial bill called for left lane slowpokes to potentially be charged with a misdemeanor, the bill did go through some modifications removing the misdemeanor and potential for jail time. The revised version states, “A person who violates this [bill] must pay a fine of not less than $100.” If this bill passes and you’re caught taking your sweet time in the fast lane, you could be slapped with a fine that has a $100 minimum but seemingly no current cap.
Whether you’re on board with this idea or instead think fining slow drivers is far too extreme, Senator Jasinski hopes that this bill will be a low-cost way to help ease traffic congestion, make the roads safer, and prevent road rage.
Jasinski stated, “This will prevent people from passing in the right lane to get around a vehicle like this. I’m not promoting speeding by any means, but I believe it will improve the traffic flow of the interstates around and throughout Minnesota.”
So now the question remains – how exactly will this be enforced? According to the bill proposal it seems that handing out penalties will simply be up to the discretion of the authorities if they notice an exceptionally slow driver in the left lane creating an unsafe situation.
Whether or not this bill officially becomes law, it certainly brings to the forefront the fact that our driving habits could use some work. It’s a good reminder for us to pay attention to the rules of the road, and maybe to even have a little patience and unclench just a little bit in order to make the roads safer for everyone.