COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) — The South Carolina House passed a bill Thursday aimed at getting slower drivers out of the left lane on Interstate highways. The bill would have the DOT put on its digital signs the message that slower vehicles must be in the right lane.
State law already says drivers should stay in the right lane except when passing or when there’s an obstruction in that lane, or when coming upon a police car, fire truck, or ambulance on the right. But Rep. Robert Brown, D-Charleston, sponsor of the bill, says the signs will make sure drivers are aware of the law and make it easier to enforce.
Slow traffic in the left lane is something he deals with often. “Every time I drive from Charleston to Columbia I run into that all the time. And I do get frustrated, but I contain mine because I’m a legislator,” he says, laughing.
But he says the consequences of slow traffic in the left lane are serious. Highway Patrol Sgt. Bob Beres says, “Traffic starts to build up, and then people are impatient and they’re following too closely, and it only takes one vehicle to tap on their brakes, which causes a chain reaction and subsequently sometimes a multi-car collision.”
He says the Highway Patrol does not condone speeding, and while a driver is legally justified in driving in the left lane while going the speed limit, the left lane is supposed to be used for passing. He says last year the Highway Patrol issued 1,150 tickets for drivers not driving the minimum speed or not staying in the right lane.
Rep. Brown says senators might change the bill because there’s uncertainty over whether the DOT’s electronic message boards should be used or whether there should be permanent signs that say slower vehicles must stay in the right lane.