‘Slowpoke’ law speeds toward passage

Rep. Dan Howell’s proposed “slowpoke law” (HB1416, as amended) has sped through House committees and awaits a floor vote Monday, reports the Times-Free Press.

Howell said he wants to promote safety and reduce “congestion, driver frustration and road rage” by updating state traffic law. His bill says motorists may not drive in the passing lane on interstates or divided highways with at least three lanes except to pass.

Howell said the idea is that motorists in a passing lane cannot impede the flow of traffic. They must move to the right if possible, even if they’re going the speed limit and the vehicles behind them are speeding.

“If you’re in the left lane of a three-lane highway and you’re not there to pass and if you’re impeding the flow of traffic, an officer has the option of writing you a ticket,” Howell said. “This bill does not address speed limits. It addresses the normal flow.”

…The slowpoke law would not apply when traffic volume doesn’t permit a driver to safely merge right or when nasty weather or traffic control devices make it necessary to stay in the passing lane. The same goes for avoiding traffic moving onto the highway from an acceleration or merging lane.

The General Assembly is filled with lawmakers who cope with Tennessee roads and drivers during their weekly commutes to and from the state Capitol in Nashville.

Howell’s bill whizzed through House subcommittees and full committees.

“I’ll have to say I’ve had tremendous interest from my colleagues,” he said. “Everyone who stops me in the hall and talks to me says, ‘I love that bill.’ And that’s on both sides of the aisle.”

“Officially, we have deferred on the bill,” Col. Tracy Trott of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told House Transportation Subcommittee members last month. “We really don’t have any concerns about it. We see that congestion is a problem on our interstates. More people are choosing to drive in the left lane without passing vehicles.”

Trott said he experiences that in his travels, too.