We've all seen it and almost nothing is more infuriating on our roadways; drivers going less than the speed limit and refusing to move to the right and get out of our way.

Flickr User Dougtone
Flickr User Dougtone

It's already against the law if motorists fail to stay right unless passing, but few get tickets for it and the fines aren't that steep anyway.

The State Senate and General Assembly have passed a bill to dramatically increase the penalties.

It's now up to Gov. Chris Christie to sign it into law.

"The bill would increase the fine from between $50 and $200 to between $100 and $300 for the fine," says Assemblyman Gilbert "Whip" Wilson. "It would help with things like road rage and also it helps with traffic flow and also it may help cut down accidents too."

According to Wilson, sometimes when a driver is behind someone in the left lane, "The only thing you can do is try to be aggressive behind the wheel and we don't want that happening [...] $50 from each fine goes toward getting signs installed and maintained on the highways to remind motorists what the law is in New Jersey."

Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon also sponsors the measure.

"Aside from drinking and driving, failure to keep right is an incredibly hazardous action, perhaps the single most hazardous and most prevalent action on our roadways," says O'Scanlon. "It may not seem like a big deal, but our failure to educate the public about this law is tragic - costing property damage, loss of life and incredible frustration on the behalf of motorists."

"One driver cruising along in the left lane can cause dozens of other drivers to become frustrated - leading to more incidents of aggressive driving and additional, unnecessary lane changes - which in turn lead to more accidents."

It's not about who is traveling above or below the speed limit because that's irrelevant according to O'Scanlon.

Lane Discipline a Priority

"The accident and fatality rates on German Autobahns - with no speed limits - are the same as ours here because they do a good job educating people about things like keeping to the right except when passing," says O'Scanlon. "We would cut our accident and fatality rates here - and certainly drivers' frustration levels - if we focus our education and enforcement priorities on issues like lane discipline."

State Sen. Donald Norcross sponsors the measure in the Upper House.

"At some point in time, whether on the Atlantic City Expressway, Route 295, or the Garden State Parkway, most of us have encountered the driver who refuses to leave the left lane, creating an unsafe traffic situation for all of us," says Norcross. "The increase in penalties and signage will help deter this behavior, reminding people that 'Keep Right' means keep right."

According to the National Motorist Association (NMA) website, observing lane courtesy laws results in safer, less congested roadways, improves gas mileage and reduces driver stress.

A statement issued earlier last year by Stephen Carrellas, Director of Government and Public Affairs for the New Jersey Chapter of the NMA expressed backing for the bill.

"The National Motorists Association supports Senator Norcross' efforts to foster the smooth, safe and efficient flow of traffic on multilane highways by bringing attention to proper lane courtesy," wrote Carrellas.

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