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‘Slowpoke’ bill could impose penalties for driving too slowly in the left lane

Have you ever been stuck behind a driver in the left lane who’s going below the speed limit? There’s no law against it in Minnesota, but one state senator hopes to change that.

Senator John Jasinski (R – Faribault) is the chief author of the “Slowpoke” bill, which would impose a minimum $100 fine for those driving too slowly in the left lane.

Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol

“We really don’t see as much [of an issue] in the rural area, but once you get to the metro area, then we start to see where there’s more congestion and faster moving vehicles,” said Sergeant Troy Christianson with the Minnesota State Patrol.

While Sgt. Christianson doesn’t know if slow moving drivers contribute to more crashes on the road, he does think they lead to congestion and road rage. “People get upset when they want to be able to get around a car quickly or if they’re going below the speed limit.”

Minnesota does not have a law that focuses on left-lane traffic flow, according to Sgt. Christianson. It’s just common courtesy that people pass in the left lane and then get back into the right. “It’s what you should do, and it’s what’s recommended.”

But there is a law called “impeding traffic.” That says if a driver is holding up a large group of cars they could be cited for not letting traffic flow. However, if it’s just one or two cars, it’s not an issue.

Other states do have laws in place when it comes to driving in the left-lane; thirteen of which already implement a “Slowpoke” law. They include: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia.

“We’d have to wait and see how many citations were issued, and the benefit of that type of law in Minnesota,” added Sgt. Christianson.

Like any bill, there are exceptions. The “Slowpoke” law would exempt cars about to make a left turn at an intersection or onto a private road, vehicles overtaking and passing another vehicle headed in the same direction, drivers in a specific lane that’s designated and posted for a specific type of traffic, and drivers preparing to exit a controlled access highway by using an exit on the left side of the road.

The “Slowpoke” bill is in the Senate Transportation Committee and scheduled for a hearing at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

If the bill does pass, Sgt. Christianson said it would take about five years to find out the results of the law and its effects to see if it’s positive or negative.

Shannon Rousseau

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