Left-lane hogs could soon face fines – officials say aggressive driving, Boca Raton car accidents may result

Two Florida lawmakers are proposing legislation this week that would make hogging the left lane a citable offense, ABC-7 reports.

In a show of bipartisanship, Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) and Rep. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) have co-sponsored House Bill 177 that takes aim at aggressive drivers and motorist who refuse to move over from the passing lane when met by come-from-behind traffic. Ultimately, the goal of the bill is to reduce the risk of serious or fatal Florida car accidents.

State law enforcement officers told WFTV-9 Orlando that slow left lane drivers are the number one cause of road rage, a factor in many Florida car accidents. Bennett said the bill, dubbed the Highway Safety Act, will come with a $143 fine for motorists caught intentionally holding up the flow of traffic by hanging out in the passing lane.

Critics say the bill encourages speeding and targets motorists who are obeying the law. Bennett says it’s meant to crack down on road rage flashpoints by encouraging drivers to “practice a little courtesy” by going with the flow of traffic (instead of working to hold it up). A companion bill – State Bill 244 – is also under consideration by state lawmakers.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that one-third of U.S. car accidents and two-thirds of traffic fatalities nationwide are linked to aggressive driving. According to the GHSA, 14 states (Florida included) have passed aggressive driving laws. With that said, Florida is the only state of the bunch to be prohibited by state statute from enforcing their aggressive driving law. (At least for now.) In Florida, aggressive driver actions include at least two of the following: speeding, unsafe lane changing or passing, failure to signal or yield right-of-way, or disregard of a traffic control device.

According to four-year study on aggressive driving conducted from 2003 to 2007 by the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety, more than 30 percent of fatal car accidents involving “potentially-aggressive driver actions” were tied specifically to speeding. Another 11.4 percent were linked to drivers failing to yield right-of-way. Just over 18 percent were tied to reckless driving, disregard for signals and signs, and improper turning. In all, 119,475 motorists were killed in car accidents believed to be caused by aggressive driving.