TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Drivers in New Jersey may want to think twice before hogging the left lane.
Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Wednesday increasing the fine for failing to keep right or failure to observe traffic lanes.
The new law raises the fine from $50 and $200 to between $100 and $300.
Christie said the new law creates safer driving conditions.
Motorists in the Garden State are required to stay in the right lane unless they are passing slower traffic.
CBS 2’s Lou Young was out on the Palisades Interstate Parkway on Thursday and witnessed a car going the speed limit passing a row of cars driving in the right lane.
That type of driving is a violation of the law, and what the increased fines are aimed at curtailing, Young reported.
“People just use the left lane all the time,” a driver told CBS 2’s Lou Young.
“People are supposed to sit in the right lane. The left lane is the passing lane,” driver Avner Katz told Young.
There were more than 4,200 left lane tickets written last year. With the increased fines, the law could turn into a seven-figure moneymaker for the state.
Some drivers said the focus should be on safety, not on cashing in on poor driving.
“Now you’re saying something else. I don’t know if money is always the answer,” Katz said.
The bill’s sponsors said staying in the left lane creates a dangerous situation for motorists.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who co-sponsored the bill, said going too slow causes road rage and forces drivers to go around.
“If you have one person driving in the left lane who shouldn’t be, you can have hundreds of very frustrated, potentially aggressive, drivers. Frustrated by them, trying to get around them – you solve this, you educate one of these people, you can eliminate hundreds of aggressive drivers,” O’Scanlon told Young.
The lawmaker told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney that changing lanes causes crashes and this law will help make the roads safer.
“You cut down the number of lane changes, you cut down the number of opportunities,” O’Scanlon said.
Some drivers shared that sentiment.
“You’re going a certain speed and now you have to slow down, you have to hope that the guy behind is going to slow down, too, because you have somebody going slow. They’re the ones that are going to cause an accident,” driver Kathy Zlata told Young.
Police sources told Young that they do not expect to be writing more tickets for left lane hogs. Instead, they said they hope the stiffer fines serve as a deterrent.
In addition to a fine, a ticket for the left lane offense also carries a two points on a driver’s license, Young reported.
Although slow drivers get the blame in criminal court, personal injury attorney Steven Benvenisti with Davis, Saperstein & Salomon said in civil court, a driver who rear-ends someone cannot blame the slow driver.
“That defense will not go anywhere,” he said.
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