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Politics & Government

Legislation targets drivers hogging the left lane of traffic

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Proposed legislation would make it illegal for drivers to linger in the left lane on parts of First State highways.

Legislation sponsored by State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) would require drivers generally to only use the left lane to pass, turn or exit the highway.

Drivers would have to keep in the right lane or face a fine. Trucks that weigh more than 10,000 pounds would also have to stay in the right lane unless they are passing, turning or taking a ramp. Those provisions would only apply to the section of Route 1 between I-95 at Christiana Mall and Dover Air Force Base.

Townsend said it’s currently illegal to drive below the speed limit in the left lane. But he said people going slower than surrounding cars in the left lane also cause public safety issues.

“And this just tries to really reorient the culture away from the idea that people should be able to be in the left lane no matter what is happening behind them," he said. "That’s just not the way that we believe that best traffic safety works.”

Townsend said drivers shouldn’t speed. But he also acknowledges that people commonly drive a little faster than the posted speed limit. He says people driving the official speed limit in the left lane hampers the flow of traffic.

“It just makes sense to drive on the right, pass on the left and not have a two lane roadway like Route 1 be a kind of hopscotch back and forth of driving,” he said.

Current law says slower drivers shall use the right lane. Townsend’s legislation changes shall to must - which he said makes it a legal obligation.

A first offender would face a $100 fine. It goes to $200 for repeat offenses.

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