Maybe there should be a contest for the dumbest bill that passes by the biggest margin. Our vote this year would be for S530/A2277, which increases the penalties for drivers who don't stay to the right.
State law requires drivers to keep right except when passing. But some people instead simply cruise along in the left passing lane, infuriating the drivers behind them, including, apparently, a number of state legislators who would like to shorten their commute time to Trenton by driving faster.
The bill raises the penalties for failing to keep right from a fine of between $50 and $200 to a fine of between $100 and $300. It also adds a $50 surcharge, which would be used for signs to remind motorists of the law.
Let's go on record here as saying that drivers should keep to the right, while we also note that police already have the authority to ticket left-lane hoggers. We're also OK with putting up signs and finding other ways to educate drivers about the rules of the road. But to single out drivers who dawdle in the left lane is ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as the effort to sell this bill as a public-safety measure.
The folks who are breaking the law by failing to stay in the right lane are generally only a problem for folks who are breaking the law by driving above the speed limit.
Granted, it's probably safe for legislators to assume they won't lose any support by siding with motorists who think being a good driver involves nothing more than holding down your right foot. New Jersey has more than its share of such yahoos. They regularly ignore things like speed limits, safe following distances, signaling for lane changes and the fact that aggressive driving is also against the law in our state.
It is quite common to be in the left lane, passing a slower driver, when a car driving 15 or 20 mph over the speed limit rides up onto your bumper, with a driver full of righteous anger endangering everyone on the road.
Frankly, the road-ragers who blame slower drivers for their unacceptable behavior remind us of perpetrators of domestic violence who blame their victims.
Gov. Chris Christie should veto this silly bill. Or, if he's feeling creative, he might conditionally veto it, recommending that it be rewritten to include doubling fines for people who drive more than 15 mph over the speed limit. The revenue from those fines could be used to educate drivers about staying right and driving at reasonable speeds - and to remind everyone that some control over your emotions should be the minimum requirement for being behind the wheel in New Jersey.