Should it be illegal to drive too slowly in the ‘fast’ lane

Posted at 1:45 PM, Jan 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-09 00:03:37-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - What drives you nuts while driving around Virginia?

Is it:

A) People who text and drive

B) Drivers who won't turn right at red lights

C) Folks who travel in the far left and set cruise control 5 m.p.h UNDER the speed limit

If you chose C, you might be in luck.

A Virginia lawmaker has proposed a bill in the General Assembly to make it against the law to drive under the speed limit while in the far left lane.

House Bill 51 states:

No person shall drive a motor vehicle either (i) at less than the posted maximum speed limit in the left-most lane of any Interstate Highway or (ii) at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

Whenever the Commissioner of Highways or local authorities within their respective jurisdictions determine on the basis of a traffic engineering and traffic investigation that slow speeds on any part of a highway consistently impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, the Commissioner or such local authority may determine and declare a minimum speed limit to be set forth on signs posted on such highway below which no person shall drive a vehicle except when necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

The lawmaker who introduced the bill, Del. Israel O'Quinn (R) - Bristol, is a "strong advocate for Southwest Virginia, according to his website.

O'Quinn told CBS 6's Chelsea Rarrick that drivers who are going too slow in the far left lane is one of the most consistent concerns that he hears from voters in his districts as well as adjoining districts.

"You are trying to pass or get around and it's next to impossible," said Lowa Snell who lives in Caroline County and drives along the Interstates often.

A spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic told CBS 6 that they applaud lawmakers for wanting to address the issue, but have some concerns with the bill.

"If for example, the speed limit is 70, then those traveling in the left lane would be breaking the law at 69 mph and at 71 mph making only driving at precisely 70 mph lawful. It would be hard for anyone to argue that driving at exactly 70 mph at all times when in the left lane is possible due to the changing flow of traffic," said Martha Meade, with AAA Mid-Atlantic.

CBS brought those concerns to Del. O'Quinn.

"I don't know that a State Trooper is going to write you for going one mile under the speed limit for going in the left lane, just like they might not write you for one mile over the speed limit," said Del. O'Quinn.

Interstate 81 runs through O'Quinn's 5th district.

Delegate Israel D. O'Quinn (R - 5th District)

Delegate Israel D. O'Quinn (R - 5th District)

I sent an email to Del. O'Quinn asking him why he filed this bill.

Here's what he said:

CBS 6: Why is there a need for this bill? Did someone come to you with the idea or is that just a pet-peeve of yours?

Del. O'Quinn: It is the most consistent complaint I receive from citizens.  In our region, the terrain can change drastically and many drivers do not take that into account and will be traveling 10-20 miles below the posted speed limit while in the left lane.  It is also evident that it leads to road rage and other unfortunate occurrences.

CBS 6: What other things that you see on the road drive you nuts?  

Del. O'Quinn: This is the most consistent issue I receive feedback on when it comes to our interstate highways.  I try not to legislate out of emotion, thus I don't put in a bill for everything that irritates me as an individual.

CBS 6: What lane do you travel in most often?  

Del. O'Quinn: I only drive in the left lane when I am passing another vehicle. Otherwise, I do not travel in the left lane.

CBS 6: What will it take to get the voters to turn this bill into a law?

Del. O'Quinn: If voters are irritated by folks driving under the speed limit in the left lane, they should contact their Delegate and Senator to urge passage of the bill.

Since you've made it this far down, here is a YouTube video you might remember from a few years ago.

It shows a police officer get behind a car driving slowly in the fast lane. What happens next in the stuff of viral video legend.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the language in this video may not be suitable for all audiences.