House Bill 177, a piece of legislation under consideration by the Florida House of Representatives, foolishly aims to make it illegal under certain circumstances to obey Florida traffic laws.
Under the legislation, even if one were driving the posted speed limit, a motorist would be legally obligated to move out of the left lane when approached from behind by a driver who’s speeding.
The bill’s sponsors, Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) and Rep. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), argue that slower drivers in the left lane cause road rage and, in turn, aggressive driving, which they hope to address with the proposal.
But their logic seems backward. Their bill not only creates a strange legal loophole, but also caters to drivers who need to learn patience – not develop an increased sense of personal entitlement to public roadways.
According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving is, “likely to increase the risk of a collision and is motivated by impatience, annoyance, hostility and/or an attempt to save time.”
Additionally, nearly one-third of the 84,884 deadly accidents between 2003 and 2007 involved drivers who were speeding, according to the study.
Many already angrily tailgate slower drivers in an attempt to bully them into driving faster. Now that the law could be on their side, they’ll have more motivation and justification to become even angrier at slower drivers.
This proposal indirectly backs speeders in Florida and won’t just cause road rage but more traffic deaths as well.
In reality, regardless of how fast and reckless one drives, there will always be more cars in the way, making it pointless to rush.
Beyond making driving more dangerous, this bill would create an unacceptable scenario where drivers could be ticketed no matter what they do. If they drive above the posted speed limit they could be ticketed or, under the proposal, they’ll be ticketed for not speeding in the left lane if someone behind them is trying to.
This isn’t the first time this type of bill has been proposed. In 2005, former Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed legislation that attempted to make it illegal to not change lanes for speeding motorists.
Bush realized that it’s wrong to penalize someone for obeying the law.
If the bill’s sponsors and supporters don’t like the speed at which they travel, then perhaps they should undertake efforts to increase posted speed limits.
It’s true that slow drivers in the left lane can be frustrating and cause road rage, but it’s not the slow drivers who are the problem. Speeders need to accept that public highways are not their private property, and they have just as much right to the road as those who obey traffic laws.
This irresponsible legislation must be struck down once again.