Hey Slowpoke, pull over!

I was driving home from work the other day -- heading down US 10 towards Big Lake -- when I pulled up behind a car moving slower than me. I was in the left lane and technically had the right of way. I waited patiently for the driver to notice me and pull into the right lane so I could pass. He/she didn't. I noticed that the back seat was filled with stuff probably obstructing the driver's view. I gave it a little more time for them to notice me and/or move over. When the driver didn't, I pulled into the right lane myself and accelerated to pass. As I did, I turned my head to see who was behind the wheel and observed the driver putting a CD into her car's CD player. It seemed pretty clear to me she was distracted.

We've all been in a situation like that before, and if you're like me you just want to give that slowpoke driver a piece of your mind. Well, Minnesota law may have something to say for us in the very near future.

A "Slowpoke Bill" is currently on the Minnesota Senate floor that would fine slow drivers in the left lane up to $100. While that may sound severe, it's actually a softened blow from the original proposal that would have made the offense a misdemeanor. A look at Minnesota Driving Rules 169.18 reminds us that driving in the right lane is expected with only a few exceptions including overtaking and passing, road construction or repairs, and more than two lanes (read a full list of exceptions here). According to the bill's sponsor Republican Sen. John Jasinski of Faribault, “This will prevent people from passing in the right lane to get around a vehicle like this. I’m not promoting speeding by any means, but I believe it will improve the traffic flow of the interstates around and throughout Minnesota.”

Not everyone's in favor of the bill, though; some see it as a simple matter of stricter law enforcement while others view it as an opportunity to practice patience. “I usually take a deep breath and figure I need more patience, and I use that to help myself,” says Senator Dan Hall of Burnsville.

Obviously, there will be a lot of "I didn't knows" should the bill pass and drivers find themselves pulled over. An awareness campaign has been suggested. This is not it, but still -- consider yourself aware.


 

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