Bill prohibiting impeding traffic in left lane gets out of subcommittee

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House File 74 is an act relating to the operation of motor vehicles in the left-most lane of certain roadways. It was sponsored by Rep. Gary Worthan and picked up six cosponsors.

The bill has both Republicans and Democrats listed as sponsors.
It would make a scheduled offense for impeding traffic traveling in the left lane on a four-lane road.

Susan Cameron Daemen of the Iowa States Sheriffs’ & Deputies’ Association said the organization supports the bill.

“Anything that just clarifies to folks which lane they should be in, I think that’s a good idea,” she said.

Chandlor Collins of the Iowa Department of Public Safety said that group would like to see language that clarifies the situation in urban areas during rush hour.

The Iowa State Police Association and Iowa State Association of Counties also support the legislation.

Democrat Rep. Ras Smith asked how the law would be enforced. He cited an already existing unwritten rule that addresses this situation among drivers.

“I’m confused about how it’ll be enforced consistently,” Rep. Smith said.

Worthan pointed to semis traveling side by side, one going 66 miles an hour and the other 65 miles an hour. Large trucking firms, he said, are regulating their trucks more often at certain speeds, but there’s always a bit of difference.

“It takes about four miles for a truck to pass,” Rep. Worthan said. “That backs up traffic and so that problem is going to get worse instead of better.”

Daemen said law enforcement has no interest in the bill in order to write tickets.

“They’re interested in this so the roadways can be safer,” she said. “We’ve all been on the interstates, especially Interstate-80, with a lot of truck traffic side by side and someone pushing them. It just makes for a safer roadway.”

Illinois has a law already regarding this situation.

“Unless you’re passing, you’re supposed to be in the right lane,” Daemen said. “I automatically notice a difference when I am in Iowa and when I go to Illinois. For law enforcement it’s more about making the roadway safer.”

Rep. Jon Thorup said people would be surprised how often drivers in the left lane fail to move over for someone else to pass, including law enforcement with lights and sirens.

“It’s amazing how many people don’t look in their rear-view mirror or have their radio so loud,” Thorup said. “Nothing is going to prevent (breaking) any particular rule of the road entirely, but I think this will help.”

Rep. Worthan ended the discussion by talking about visiting his oldest son in Germany around Thanksgiving. They drove on the Autobahn.

“They are serious about if you impede the left lane on the Autobahn,” he said. “It’s about a $200 fine and they are not shy about enforcing it. The traffic moves very well.”

Representatives Worthan and Thorup both signed off the bill while Rep. Smith said he’d like more time to consider.