Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When driving the speed limit is breaking the law

If, on a highway having more than one lane with vehicles traveling in the same direction, the Texas Department of Transportation or a local authority places a sign that directs slower traffic to travel in a lane other than the farthest left lane, the sign must read "left lane for passing only."
- Texas Transportation Code Sec. 544.011
An operator of a vehicle on a roadway moving more slowly than the normal speed of other vehicles at the time and place under the existing conditions shall drive in the right-hand lane available for vehicles, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, unless the operator is: (1) passing another vehicle; or (2) preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. -- Texas Transportation Code Sec.  545.051(b) 
What better way to create an excuse for pulling motorists over to see who might have been drinking but to enforce a little known, and little observed, traffic statute.

We all know that the left lane is the fast lane. We're all taught to pass to the left. I have been known to drive my car at a speed quite a bit above the one posted on the roadside traveling back and forth to the Dallas area for seminars - but even I move to the right when someone's coming up behind me at warp speed.

So, yes, there are plenty of motorists out there who think for some yet unknown reason that they are more than justified to plod along in the left lane at the speed limit. These tend to be the same people who count the number of items someone takes out of their basket in the express lane and who tattled on their younger siblings when they were growing up.

And, as much as I hate getting behind that person on the freeway, I have a hard time supporting anything that gives the police yet another excuse to pull someone over who isn't doing anything wrong. But, up in Montgomery County (the land the Constitution forgot) and out in Fort Bend County, if you're cruising along in the left lane not passing anyone - you risk getting pulled over and either being issued a warning or being ticketed. And, should you be coming home from a night out with friends after consuming an adult beverage or two, you could find yourself being arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Why else would Warren Diepraam and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office get themselves involved in such an initiative? Hell, if you can't pull 'em over for doing anything illegal - you might as well pull them over for driving the speed limit.

So, as annoying as it may be to be driving behind the guy who thinks he needs to police speeds on the highway, the last thing we need to do is give the police yet another excuse to pull someone over. It's bad enough that we allow DWI stops based on behaviors that during the day wouldn't get a second glance from a police officer. But to allow a DWI stop when the only sin being committed is driving the speed limit in the wrong lane is hardly a good idea.

And what about officers who want to have it both ways? Are the police not going to ticket anyone for speeding if they are passing slower moving vehicles to the left? At the rate things are going, pretty soon up in Montgomery County driving on the highway alone will amount to reasonable suspicion that someone is breaking the law.


Lee said...

A crime is whatever the legislature has been duped into saying it is.

This is the equal of giving Saddam Hussein his own personal Death Star.

Anonymous said...

This law also results in wasting THOUSANDS of miles of Texas highway lanes that will now get how much use ? 1% ?
When the highway is packed, is it REALLY safer to dart around cars looking for a "hole" after you passed someone? I could understand the irritation when the speed limit was 55 back in the 70s/80s but at 70, this is still too slow ??

I drove US 59 from Houston north to I20 for decades where the right lane was consistently so bad it caused suspension damage. I refuse to drive in a lane that damages my vehicle. I do the speed limit & have no problem letting drivers pass me. But I have ZERO sympathy for those running 35 & 40 mph OVER the speed limit and expecting exclusive use of the road.

You cannot LEGALLY pass someone that is already doing the speed limit which means under this law on a 4 lane, you just WASTED 50% of tax dollars for every 4 lane in the state.. Because NO ONE can LEGALLY use it if everyone is already at the speed limit.

I believe it was stupid to have put this law in place. Just for a bunch of whiners. yes WHINERS!

. . .AND is there ANYWHERE in the legislation that exempts high volume metropolitan areas? Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston. There is so much congestion that you already can't move and now you tell me these lanes are also for passing only.

Does this mean the state will be adding one additional lane in EACH direction of EVERY HIGHWAY in the state? I want that lane back !!! We need it for the VOLUME of traffic.