Outlawing every petty nuisance of life certainly isn’t the job of the Nevada Legislature. If it were, there would be scores of people on death row for answering their cell phones during a movie.
But some quality-of-life crimes are also true safety hazards, which is why a pair of bills from two Nevada Assembly Republicans are so important.
Assembly Bills 329 and 334 — introduced by Assemblymen Chris Edwards, R-Las Vegas and John Ellison, R-Elko, respectively — would prohibit people from slow-driving in the left-hand lane.
Or, in the language of the proposed laws: “A driver may not continue to operate a motor vehicle in the extreme left lane if the driver knows, or reasonably should know, that he or she is being overtaken in that lane from the rear by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed.”
To which I say, amen and amen.
There are exceptions to the rule, and violations would become misdemeanors punishable by fines of $50, $100 or $250, depending on the number of citations issued in a seven-year period.
Anyone who drives on Las Vegas roads has seen this particular offense. It can occur because of discourtesy, ignorance or the profoundly incorrect attitude expressed thus: “I’m going the speed limit, and that’s fast enough for everyone!”
On Interstate 15, big-rig trucks regularly plod along in the left lane, some in anticipation of entering the express lanes, others simply because they can. On U.S. Highway 95, drivers regularly zone out, oblivious to long lines of cars behind them.
The result: Faster drivers change lanes to pass the obstructing driver, sometimes recklessly as frustration builds. The fast-lane sitters thus become a danger to everyone else on the road.
Common courtesy is to change lanes and allow faster drivers to pass, regardless of the speed limit, and many people do that. But some drivers refuse, or don’t realize they should yield. If either AB 329 or AB 334 becomes law, police officers and state troopers could issue citations for clogging asphalt arteries. And the sooner that happens, the better.
Speaking of transportation irritations that are also safety hazards, the Legislature might resurrect a bill from 2015, introduced by Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas. His AB 168 provided that riders of mopeds (think Vespa-type scooters) must ride as far to the right side of the road as practical unless they are traveling with the speed of traffic.
This would prevent scooter drivers from puttering along at 25 mph on roadways where the speed limit is 45 mph, either because they’re unable or unwilling to keep up with traffic. Maneuvering around scooter drivers creates a hazard for them and for other traffic. Edwards has introduced AB 335 this year, which would require the same thing.
And back in 2011, then-state Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, introduced AB 275, which would have required private contractors working on freeways or highways to remove cones that block off travel lanes when no work was happening or immediately after work was finished. That idea surely appeals to drivers squeezing past closed lanes only to see no workers and no activity.
In fact, it’s such a good idea it should apply to all work on all streets. The only time a travel lane should ever be closed is when work is actually being done, or a hazard (an open trench, missing pavement or the like) prevents the physical use of the lane.
Perhaps the Assembly or Senate transportation committees might consider some relief for Nevada drivers before Monday’s deadline for bill introductions.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or SSebelius@reviewjournal.com.