One of the first lessons anyone is taught in driver's education class about navigating the highways or interstates is that once you complete a pass via the left lane -- or passing lane -- and traffic is clear, you should re-enter the right lane in order to allow traffic to keep moving.
However, if you were to ask most motorists here in Tennessee about their recent experiences on the highways and interstates, there's a good chance that most would tell you that people appear to have forgotten this basic lesson, clogging up the passing lane and impeding the flow of traffic.
As aggravating and inconvenient as this practice of drivers failing to move out of the passing lane can be, it's also dangerous given that it causes more drivers to weave in and out traffic. Indeed, statistics show that these weaving drivers increase the motor vehicle accident rate by up to 8 percent.
In recognition of this problem, state Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) has proposed legislation dubbed the "Slowpoke Law," that, if passed, would essentially give law enforcement officials the right to ticket those individuals who elect to drive in the passing lanes of divided highways and interstates with a minimum of three lanes.
In addition to applying only to thoroughfares with three lanes or more, the law also states that the prohibition against driving in the passing lane does not apply under the following circumstances:
- Traffic levels are heavy enough that a motorist cannot safety re-enter the passing lane
- Inclement weather conditions make it safer to travel in the passing lane
- Traffic control devices mandate driving in the passing lane
- Merging traffic necessitates travel in the passing lane
What's curious about the law is that the idea is to keep the passing lane open, meaning even if a person is driving the speed limit while traveling on the left, they must still move to the right whenever possible to accommodate vehicles traveling even faster.
"This bill does not address speed limits. It addresses the normal flow," said Howell. "It's not the speed on the highway that kills as much the weaving in and out of traffic which is caused by people who impede the flow of traffic,"
It's worth noting that the bill has already garnered considerable support in the House of Representatives, and no opposition (or support) from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which has only indicated that the law wouldn't be the easiest to enforce.
What are your thoughts on the so-called Slowpoke Law? Do you think Tennessee should become the 30th state with such a law on the book? Do you think it will really help reduce motor vehicle accidents and make the roads safer?