Changes may be coming to Tennessee's 'Slow Poke' Law

Some Tennessee lawmakers want to expand the state’s Slow Poke Law. As it stands now, drivers on interstates and multi-lane divided highways of three or more lanes are not supposed to stay in the far left lane, unless they are passing. (Christy Calcagno/WCYB)

Once you hit the interstates in Tennessee it's a good idea to stay in the right lane or risk a ticket.

The 'Slow Poke' law enacted in 2016 is intended to keep slow drivers out of the left lane.

But it applies only on interstates and other divided highways that widen to three lanes.

Now some lawmakers want to expand it to cover all divided highway with passing lanes.

"I think it's a good idea because when people travel through the left lane and they hold everyone up, it'll back traffic up," says traveler, Marcus Olson.

The laws are not aimed at penalizing slower drivers for simply using the left lane, but rather discouraging them from staying there.

Local police see the change helping the flow of traffic.

"There are certain restrictions on areas you can pass on the right. Volunteer Parkway is one where you cannot pass on the right. There are other limitations that you cannot pass on the left," says Officer Thomas Laughlin of the Bristol Tennessee Police Department.

"A lot of people stay over in the left lane and don't ever want to move over to the right lane whenever they need to so others can pass them," says traveler Brandi McDill.

"We do see safety issues and people operating under the speed limit on Volunteer Parkway in the left lane," says Officer Laughlin.

A number of states have already passed similar legislation including West Virginia, Georgia and Indiana.

Officer Laughlin says drivers need to be aware of different traffic laws when they cross over into different states.

"The basis for traffic safety is being alert. Though there are different laws in each state that's the basis of what we're doing here. We're just trying to be as safe as possible," says Officer Laughlin.

The penalty for being a 'slow poke' driver would remain the same - a $50 citation.

If passed, the law would take effect July 1, 2019.

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