Md. lawmaker wants slowpokes out of left lane

Maryland State Delegate Neil Parrott (R-2A) drives on Interstate 70 enough to know “no one in Maryland knows that you should stay to the right” while driving on a multilane highway.

“[It’s] the wild, wild West when you’re on I-70,” said Parrott, of Hagerstown. “Some people are passing on the far right lane.”

Parrott is pushing a bill that would encourage drivers to stay in the right lanes unless they are passing. Parrott, who owns his own traffic consulting business, hopes his bill will, to some degree, make things a little more orderly on the roads.

“Why would we want it?” He asked in a committee hearing on Thursday. “Because it helps with safety, there’s less fatalities.”

He said the bill would also cut down on road rage, as it will reduce the number of cars weaving between lanes to get around slower drivers.

“Research shows two cars driving side-by-side going the same speed can develop major backups,” said Parrott. “Aggressive driving does lead to the majority of fatal crashes in the United States.”

In previous years, similar bills languished over concerns they would be another pretext for police to stop minority drivers. In response, Parrott is reducing the penalty to something less than a slap on the wrist.

“The law is a secondary offense,” said Parrott. “No one can get pulled over. And what they would get is a civil citation.”

There would be no points on your license and you wouldn’t pay a dime in fines. He compared it to the citation a kid might get for riding a bike without a helmet.

If the bill passed, Maryland State Highway would be required to post signs on interstates and freeways reminding drivers to stay to the right unless they’re passing. People taking driver’s education classes around the state would also have to learn about this concept.

“Several other states already have this bill,” said Parrott. “Actually a majority of states do. We’re only one of five states … that has weak or no laws talking about the left lane.”

For what it’s worth, a look through Maryland court records found no instances of Delegate Parrott being ticketed for speeding, aggressive driving or any other driving offenses. Parrott is currently running for the GOP nomination for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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