NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF) — Drivers in South Carolina could be fined for holding up traffic in the left lane of state highways. Beginning August 15, South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) can issue $25 citations to drivers who are driving in the far left lane and not trying to pass another vehicle.
“Unless you are overtaking or passing another vehicle, you have to stay in the right lane,” L/Cpl. Tyler Tidwell with SCHP says.
L/Cpl. Tyler Tidwell tells NewsChannel 6 there is no minimum speed troopers will use to gauge if a driver should be cited. Troopers will make their judgements based on if drivers are holding up traffic.
“If individuals are traveling in the left lane and they see that traffic behind them is coming up on them at a faster rate, then what they can do is move over to the right. Once that traffic is passed, they can either stay in the right lane or go back over to the left lane.”
Some drivers see the new law as a welcomed change.
“I like the law because I often see people in the left lane being extraordinarily slow,” Charles Jenkins says. “Anything that slows traffic creates an issue. Then, people have to pass on the right hand side, which is more dangerous than passing on the left.”
“I think it’s going to be super helpful to keep the traffic pace moving,” Andy Morris adds.
However, other drivers, including Andy Morris, argue SCHP should focus its efforts on drivers who are speeding instead of slow drivers.
“It seems kind of crazy that you can get a ticket for going too slow,” Morris says. “I think they should be worried on enforcing speeding too much than people going too slow. As long as you’re keeping up with traffic, I think you’re fine.”
SCHP will not begin issuing tickets right away. Troopers will warn drivers for the first 90 days. The South Carolina Department of Transportation will post new signs and electronic messages along highways reminding drivers of the law. Troopers will begin issuing citations on November 13. However, the violation “will not be included in the offender’s motor vehicle record, included in SLED’s criminal records, or reported to the offender’s motor vehicle insurer,” according to the law.
Exceptions to the law:
(1) when no other vehicle is directly behind the vehicle in the left lane;
(2) when traffic conditions and congestion make it impractical to drive in the right lane;
(3) when snow and other inclement weather conditions make it safer to drive in the left lane;
(4) when obstructions or hazards exist in the right lane;
(5) when, because of highway design, a vehicle must be driven in the left lane when preparing to exit;
(6) to law enforcement vehicles, ambulances, or other emergency vehicles engaged in official duties and vehicles engaged in highway maintenance and construction operations;
(7) when a driver of a tractor-trailer commercial motor vehicle combination is unable to move into the right lane safely due to another vehicle overtaking or passing his vehicle to the right; or
(8) when a driver of a vehicle requiring a commercial motor vehicle license to operate is unable to move into the right lane safely due to a highway grade or another vehicle overtaking or passing his vehicle on the right.