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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

House wants passing lane clear

Written April 24th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
The bill would not apply when traffic is congested, as it was on this day.

The bill would not apply when traffic is congested, as it was on this day.

In the spirit of passing laws for the hell of it, whether they do any good or not, which is the prevailing spirit this legislative session, the Oregon House has approved a bill to try to keep drivers from hogging the left lane on our highways, mostly meaning the freeways.

This is House Bill 3414, cosponsored by Sen. Ginny Burdick. The Portland Democrat has tried to pass similar legislation before, and this time she is halfway there. On April 21 the bill cleared the House on a vote of 33-26. Most Democrats voted yes, most Republicans no.

The bill says that on multi-lane highways with posted speeds of 45 mph and greater, it’s an offense punishable by up to a $1,000 fine to drive in the left lane except when passing or preparing to pass, or to make a left turn, or to make room for traffic entering the road from the right (plus some other exceptions).

If this becomes law, you know the effect it’s going to have: A few more drivers are going to get tickets, and that’s about all. The reasons people now stay in the left lane for longer than they should are not going to go away. The main one is not being able to get back in the passing lane once you have left it. Another is that sometimes, the pavement is bumpier in the right lane, having been hammered by heavy trucks more than the left.

And sometimes it’s just easier and — we hope — safer to stay in one lane rather than scooting back and forth. If you keep an eye on the mirror and make way for anything coming up fast from behind, what’s the harm? Yes, it’s aggravating to be stuck for a few seconds behind some guy driving 64 mph in the fast lane. But when this happens, how likely is a cop to be on hand to pull him over and enforce this law?

The House has passed the bill, but maybe the Senate will have better sense. That’s a big maybe. One bill that really would help move traffic along, Sen. Floyd Prozanski’s SB 459 to raise the freeway speed limit to 70 mph, has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee, which has scheduled no action on it yet and where it may get stuck. (hh)



8 responses to “House wants passing lane clear”

  1. Ted Salmons says:

    I think that’s a great idea. Maybe after that they can pass laws against rape, hiring illegal aliens, murder, texting/making phone calls while driving and identity theft. Then the state will really be safer. Wait, let me think. I believe laws against those actions already exist. Well, they’ve worked out so well I can see why these political hacks think a piece of paper well stop these dimwits from driving like that.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    I guess we can only hope that common sense prevails.
    This has got to be one of the stupidest laws ever proposed in this state!
    At least we have the cable barriers to keep the carnage in the same direction of travel.

  3. James Carrick says:

    One of my pet peeves………left lane hogs!

    “Yes, it’s aggravating to be stuck for a few seconds behind some guy driving 64 mph in the fast lane.” Well Hasso, if it was only a few seconds your point would be valid. It’s OFTEN a few MILES! With 8-10 cars stacked up behind the ignorant offender! (often bearing Washington plates in my experience).

    It is already against the law to impede traffic and there are signs that tell us to use the right lane for passing and directing slow traffic to the right lane so I must agree that passing this law will have little or no real effect. And the cops? It’s been years since they have had a strong presence on I-5 and I’ve been driving the length of Oregon regularly since the mid 70’s. Occasionally they try to catch a few speeders but I never see them pulling people over for being left lane hogs, or much of anything else. Radar makes speeding easy to prove, keeping cops out of the courtroom because violators don’t contest the tickets they get.

    I often wonder if some of the drivers I see have a death wish. More likely they’re just oblivious to their situation…or distracted. People need to be aware of their surroundings and other drivers at all times. That means checking your mirrors several times a minute. And the ONE thing these left lane hogs often do is force people behind them to drive alongside semi trucks and trailers for extended periods, often placing them in the trucker’s blind spot and that is a DANGEROUS place to be hanging (or hung) out. When you move left to pass a truck….PASS IT like you stole what you’re driving….not like you are admiring the scenery.

    If passing Burdick’s law raises awareness and leads (somehow) to better safety then maybe that’s all we can expect. And maybe it’s also keeping Burdick from her anti-gun activity to some degree and I have no problem with that result either.

    • James Carrick says:

      “….signs that tell us to use the right lane for passing….”

      Oooops, meant to say LEFT lane(s) for passing……..

  4. Shawn Dawson says:

    I am in agreement with you Hasso. Folks who misuse the left lane are an annoyance. But this does not rise the level of needing a new law to deal with them. When this failed last year, I hoped that would be the end of it. I am disappointed to see it back and gaining more traction this year.

    We do not need more laws to deal with this. Passing the law will not magically make folks obey with without enforcement. And I expect if there was a desire that it could already be enforced with existing regulations.

    This would be a bad law.

  5. Jim Engel says:

    So, who is to be the judge if I’m going to pass or just cruising along? How many would I be allowed to pass in one effort? As it is now it’s crowded in all lanes from Portland to Eugene most days. So we’re supposed to form one long line to the right & play a game of leap frog in an effort to move ahead?

    And the thought is being considered to raise the speed limit to 70!! As it is now if you’re not doing 65+ you get left behind by other traffic.Not to mention trucks lumbering by. It would cause more fuel use so maybe there would be more $$ for road work??!! JE

  6. Gary Richards says:

    I don’t know that such a law would be a “bad” law – but is it really necessary? Enforce what we have on the books first, then if that doesn’t work then up the ante! Too many maroons out there thinking that because they are going 65 that they don’t have to pull over if somebody comes up behind them – it’s as if they think they are personal representatives of the State Police there to make sure nobody speeds.

  7. Bill Kapaun says:

    Does the state even have the power to dictate how the lanes are used on a FEDERAL highway?
    I can see setting speed limits lower in populated/congested areas as needed, but I would think the Feds have some limitations of what the state can do.

 

 
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