A common courtesy on the roadway is on its way to becoming a law, as the Oregon Senate passed a bipartisan bill today that will make it illegal to drive slowly, blocking traffic, in the left lane on two- and three-lane highways.

Senate Bill 532 – which passed with a 19-10 vote on the Senate floor – requires that motorists on highways or roads with two lanes going in the same direction use the left lane only for passing other vehicles. The bill carries a presumptive penalty of $110. There are exceptions to the rule, based on road conditions, hazards, complying with the “move over law” and other factors. The bill is intended to relieve annoyance on the roadways and improve safety. Getting stuck behind someone blocking the left lane leads to traffic bottling up. It also can lead to frustration and resulting erratic behaviors such as quick lane changes or passing on the right. These actions can lead to accidents.

Smooth flow of traffic and having an unimpeded passing lane available can alleviate those issues, leading to fewer risky lane changes and less frustration that often leads to accidents.

“People who hog the left lane lead to road rage and frustration, tailgating and passing on the right,” said Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), who carried the bill. “All of these are unsafe behaviors. Several states across the nation are taking this approach to make their highways safer. It will improve traffic safety and help end an annoying behavior on the roadway.”

Senate Bill 532 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.