Traffic on I-270

Delegate William Folden has proposed a bill that would force slower drivers to keep the left lane clear on highways with at least three lanes going in the same direction, when the speed limit is at least 55 mph.

ANNAPOLIS — Speed demons, unite.

Well, briefly, then get back to the right.

That was the message during a breezy hearing Thursday in Annapolis. Lawmakers considered a bill from Delegate William Folden, R-District 3B, that would require slowpoke drivers to stay out of the left lane.

The bill seemed popular with the quick-paced House Environment and Transportation Committee. Chairman Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery, reminded committee members that they supported similar bills in years past. In those years, the legislation hit a roadblock in the Senate and ultimately didn’t pass.

Folden’s bill restricts the use of the far left lane of a road, reserving it only for drivers to overtake and pass another vehicle. It would apply to roads in the state with a speed limit of 55 mph or higher, in spans when at least three lanes of traffic are moving in the same direction.

“We’ve all ridden down the roadways ... and you get that vehicle ... that sits in the left lane and seemingly camps out right at or just below the speed limit, bless their heart. But they won’t move over. They won’t yield,” said Folden, a Frederick police officer who commutes to and from Annapolis each day during the 90-day General Assembly session.

He pointed out that keeping the left lane generally clear of traffic also makes driving safer for first responders.

All lanes would be available to drivers when no one is able to move quickly: traffic jams.

Weather or road hazards would also lift the requirement. Carpool lanes would not be affected.

Folden found support for the bill in Montgomery County Police Capt. Tom Didone. In written testimony, Didone broke down elements of traffic engineering that show that reserving the left lane for passing helps move traffic along more smoothly.

Speaking before the committee, he lamented those drivers who park themselves in left lane at a low speed, including one of his own family members.

“It drives me crazy,” Didone said.

He told the committee about watching faster and slower drivers interact in the left lane. One of a few things usually happens, Didone said: The slower car yields and moves over (rarely); the faster car passes on the right; or the faster car “would drive up their butts and try to push them along.”

“That’s a technical term,” Folden interjected.

Delegate William Wivell, R-Washington, said he was disappointed that Folden made the measure an “urban” bill by restricting it just to three-lane roads, when rural two-lane roads are peppered with the same dawdlers.

Folden said he hoped that changing the law on the widest roads first would result in a statewide culture shift from left-lane driving.

After discussions among the committee, Folden said he would be open to consider amendments that would change the proposed ticket to a civil citation.

No one testified against the bill — or honked their horns, if you will — on Thursday.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(37) comments

HappySeller2014

This is an underground grass roots conspiracy to rob all left-handed drivers of their God given inalienable right to drive on the left side of the road! After all, they are the only folks in their right mind! Time for pitchforks and torches.

I have seen bump drafting before.

pfitzgerald

Different speed limits for different lanes? 10 MPH increase per lane then, maybe, this proposal makes sense. Otherwise, it's just an excuse for tailgaters to put the hammer down, flash their lights and blow their horns - and still pass on the right. Better yet, just eliminate speed limits all together. Apparently, some officials don't believe they are effective.

HappySeller2014

Works in Germany. Called the autobahn. No posted speed limits. Trust me, you do not drive slow in the left lane in Germany.

Dwasserba

"drive up their butts and try to push them along” happens when you are going 40 past a school in a 35mph zone. I'm old, it rattles me and I get slower...and slower...the longer it goes on. You are warned.

sue1955

Dwasserba; re your 11:08 A.M. post, I understand. I'm "there," too. I never realized that I would be this way back in my years driving 70S, then (later) 270.

HappySeller2014

Are you and Dwasserba giving MD legislators a new idea? You guys advocating "No OLD drivers" signs in the median down an interstate??? Please, I do not want to pay more in taxes for "OLD person" stickers for my rear license plate next to my month/year regisyration stickers.

BTW, I am OLD too. I pass in the left lane and always pull over to the right when traveling. Us OLD folks need to have manners also.

HappySeller2014

Many of my good friends bump draft. You are warned.

jswalker1963

Hmmm. So person 1 wants person 2 to start following one rule of the road so person 1 can continue to flagrantly violate another. I wonder if person 1 will discontinue another common violation, namely tailgating person 2 when traffic is heavy and there are no opportunities to safely move over in person 2's discretion? Doubtful because person 1 only cares about 1 person.

walter3rd

^^^^This! In my view, speeders that tailgate and try to weave through heavy traffic is a bigger issue than a "slowpoke" in the left lane. I wish there was more enforcement on the interstates around here, especially since most highways around here are congested most of the time. Feels more like Nascar, especially on 270.

KellyAlzan

Its unenforceable, simply because most of MD is over-congested with traffic.

Speed limit on I-270 is 55.

I-270 is 2 lanes from the scale houses to Frederick.

LOL - can you imagine all the commuter traffic on 270 ONLY driving in one lane???? LOL

C'mon folden, you're looking like not too bright right now

Gregkeppley

...."in spans when at least three lanes of traffic are moving in the same direction."
Doesn't apply to your span of road.
And you want to say Golden isn't too bright??

Fredmd21704

ha ha

KellyAlzan

Greg. Keep fighting them fires. See you next week, bud.

Comment deleted.
matts853

Yup. A frequently wrong know it all.

KellyAlzan

Much of 270 has a 55mph.

Comment deleted.
KellyAlzan

Fred - you are Wrong.

Fredmd21704

oh look another common sense bill. People who drive slow in the left lane are a danger to society.

millden123

I have lived in the US for 22 years and have always found driving here so frustrating. I complain constantly to my partner about people who will not move out of the fast lane because that are not only holding up the flow of the traffic but also causing frustration and road rage from people who just want to pass them. This in turn causes people to passing the slower lanes which causes more accidents. In the UK where I am from, you can only pass in the lane going faster than you and then you move back to your lane. If you sit in a lane and hold up the traffic, not only will you be flashed and honked at, but you can also get a ticket. This happens very infrequently as people tend to abide buy the rules as it makes sense and keeps the traffic flowing. I would be delighted if they could fix this problem.

Dwasserba

Imo culturally, we are not as polite and we can't legislate politeness. And others should not "cause" emotions in yourself, if they do, one needs to examine the instance and try to self-impose a better reaction. It's an opporunity to improve oneself sorry I'd write more but I am laughing so hard

walter3rd

I agree with this. However, more often that not "the flow of traffic" on local interstates means 3 lanes of traffic stacked up going roughly the speed limit. For some reason, overly aggressive and impatient drivers tailgate in the left lane, as if an entire lane of traffic should move over just so they can pass.

HappySeller2014

A police officer pulls over a slow moving car...

Cop : "This is a 65 MPH highway, why are you going so slowly?"
Driver: "Officer, I saw a lot of signs saying 22, not 65."

Cop : "Oh, that's not the speed limit, that's the name of the highway you're on!"
Driver : "Oh! Stupid me! Thanks for letting me know, Ill be more careful from now on."

At this point the cop looks into the back seat of the car, where the passengers are shaking and white as ghosts.

Cop : "Excuse me, what's wrong with your friends back there? They're shaking something awful."

Driver: "Oh... That's probably because we just got off of highway 119."

Frayou

This condition frustrates me as well. However, I'm afraid this would be just another law that would rarely be enforced. Similar to the law preventing the use of your cell phone while driving, which you witness drivers doing routinely. Unfortunately, auto insurance companies have acknowledged this fact by recently increasing insurance rate due to an increase of accidental caused by distracted drivers. (Mine increased by $400. I switched insurance company). The same would probably happen as well due to increase accidents due to speeding? Insurance companies never loose money.

CDReid

Excellent! I applaud this proposal, and feel it is a long time coming. And yes, I'm also one of the thousands who get sick and tired of they who feel that the fast/passing lane is their own little personal lane. Pennsylvania has this law and I've seen it respected so I've no doubt that it works. I was living in SC when it was proposed down there and the mentality of the people there was "What, so I'm going to get a ticket now for doing the speed limit?" I don't know if it ever was passed in that state. I also see no reason for a "statewide culture shift" before it's implemented for two lane roads. Pass it for them and three lanes, put up signs like they've done in Pa. informing drivers of the law, and start enforcing it! Slowpokes, get your arses over!

Fredmd21704

they already have this law in Suffolk.

CDReid

I can't seem to find this law for Suffolk, possibly because Suffolk doesn't have any three lane roads. Would you mind giving me a link to it so I could check it out?

Fredmd21704

https://vacode.org/2016/46.2/III/8/1/46.2-804/ and https://vacode.org/2016/46.2/III/8/4/46.2-842/ now i know you know how to use google, but you are welcome.

elmweeks

I love the concept but don't believe it will be enforced. Virginia enacted the law and I've seen no officers on the Greenway (toll road) pulling over the "slugs" driving 64 mph in the left lane, where the speed limit is 65. The situation creates gridlock and sometimes leads to road rage.

Fredmd21704

it doesn't create grid lock on the Greenway, just go around them.

matts853

These left lane squatters also drive me nuts. Either they never look in their rear view mirror or they are trying to make a statement for others to slow down. Check your 6 often and move over for faster drivers, or better yet, just stay out of the left lane. We have places to go people!

jwhamann

Oh my! You might be 10 minutes late to work!!!

Fredmd21704

impending the flow of traffic is actually an offense. but you wouldn't know, you ride a kiddie bike.

CDReid

"Impending" the flow of traffic? And do you think "kiddie bike" was necessary?

jwhamann

I've never been late to work, though. Heck, I've never even been fashionably late.

Fredmd21704

Impeding, spell check issue CDReid, guess you really do not know the driving laws? : https://www.municode.com/library/md/cumberland/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICUCO_CH13MOVETR_ARTIVSTSTPA_S13-100OBFLTR

matts853

That can get a lot of people fired you know. And also disrupt business. Sheesh.

Dwasserba

I was too often ten minutes late walking six blocks to take a subway ("el") then a bus then a streetcar then walking two blocks to where everyone else lived in the vicinity and I was let go inside the six months' trial to get a raise. Turned out it happened twice before me. The bank I went to after that, just blocks away, accepted "excuses" like, "a guy jumped into the tracks" -- which was why I needed to exit to wait for a bus I didn't usually take. Getting your purse snatched meant begging strangers for carfare at a halfway to work location. People who can bike don't know what we go through.

Dwasserba

As a kid, I was often a passenger in a car in which the adult crossed lanes with oncoming traffic while saying, "we'll slow them down.' NYC was memorable because it involved a U turn. I feel fortunate to have survived to be an adult glued to the slow lane. So many in the passing lane driving my speed wear hats. I am slow enough to notice and one day hope to discover the connection.

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