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Bill targeting fast-lane hogs died in Salem

There is talk of new laws for drivers who hog the fast lanes of our roads. As a person who uses Highway 62 daily, I see trouble on 62 if this law is passed. Highway 62 is so crowded that both lanes are packed with cars. If all cars must cram into the slow lane, the slow lane will back up to Shady Cove. Drivers will then leap-frog trying to pass everyone, creating a hazard and a lot of road rage. It might work on I-5, but how can it work on 62?

— Ron, Eagle Point

After we received your question, the Oregon Legislature ended its regular 2017 session without passing Senate Bill 532, which would have required drivers to use the left lane only for passing other vehicles — with certain exceptions.

The bill targeting fast-lane hogs made it through the Senate and was sent to the House, but was still in committee when the session ended.

If it had passed, various provisions in the bill would have made it inapplicable to much of Highway 62, according to Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming.

The bill applied only to highways with speed limits of more than 55 mph.

Highway 62's speed limit is above 55 mph in a short section between White City and Eagle Point, as well as north of Eagle Point toward Shady Cove and beyond, Leaming said.

The bill also allowed drivers to use the left lane under a variety of conditions, including if they are preparing to turn left, to avoid traffic merging into the right lane, when traffic is moving slower than the posted speed limit, if obstructions are in the right lane or if signs direct them to use the left lane.

Especially in the congested areas of Highway 62, drivers are frequently merging, entering the center lane to turn left and making other maneuvers that would allow people to travel in the fast lane, Leaming noted.

Although the bill didn't pass, Leaming said it's still good driver etiquette to generally travel in the right lane and use the left lane for passing.

Oregon already has a law that campers, trailers and vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds must be driven in the right lane except to pass, to turn left, to avoid emergency conditions, to make room for merging vehicles or when necessary to obey traffic-control devices. Violations carry a maximum $1,000 fine.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.