DES MOINES, Iowa - Speed up, or pay up. That's the message some Iowa lawmakers say they want to send with a proposed bill in the state House of Representatives that would penalize slow left-lane drivers on the state's highways and interstates.
"There is an issue here, and the issue is, is we have some people who like to hang out in that passing lane, and they're not even going the speed limit," said House Transportation Committee Chairman, Rep. Josh Byrnes (R-Osage). "We're not trying to promote people to be in that passing lane, or this bill is not trying to encourage people to go faster. That's not the purpose. The purpose of the bill is, we want people to get out of that lane, and move over, if they're not going to be driving that speed limit."
Rep. Byrnes says he and his colleagues began to notice the issue after numerous complaints from the public - many from the state's metropolitan areas where traffic is high.
"And especially in the Des Moines Metro Area, that flow of traffic is essential to keeping that city moving and flowing, and when you've got someone that provides any sort of hiccup in that system, it can really back-log things," he said.
The bill would allow police to pull a driver over for going more than 10 miles per hour under the speed limit in the left lane of the highway. Elizabeth Todd of Ames says her commute every morning into Des Moines is plagued by slow drivers hogging the left lane, and supports the idea.
"Often on the commute, the left lane will get backed up a lot as we're all behind one car trying to pass in a lane. So that happens a lot," she said.
Suzanne Hicks of Des Moines says she's in favor of the bill simply because of safety.
"Especially during rush hour, for some reason, people are out a lot on the freeway doing below the speed limit," she said. "And it's just dangerous. Or if you're approaching the freeway, coming on, you have to hit the speed limit and these people are not doing that. It's just dangerous."
The bill was just introduced to the House Transportation Committee this week. It'll move to a subcommittee now, and lawmakers expect to take it up for a vote on the House floor sometime later this session.