Roy Exum: Georgia’s ‘Slow-Poke Bill’

Friday, February 28, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Some years ago a preacher on Lookout Mountain, right after he had experienced some unchristian thoughts while following a flatland tourist who was driving agonizingly slow up the mountain, devoted an entire sermon to the 27th verse of the Bible’s Book of Genesis. He claimed God’s word extols us to "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it! Be masters over the fish in the ocean, the birds that fly, and every living thing that crawls on the earth!"

On Wednesday the Georgia Legislature joined the chorus of those who would be masterful over things that crawl with a ringing approval of House Bill 459. In a vote that was a landslide, 162-9, the “Slow Poke Bill” would call for drivers who lollygag in the left lane on interstates and other four-lane highways to be ticketed for holding up traffic.

As a driver who admits “a need for speed,” I adore the effort but it is fraught with problems. First, a police officer would have to witness the ill-mannered dolt and it has been my experience that when a police cruiser is spotted by most motorists, they instinctively slow down. The officer must also be able to apprehend the trouble-maker and there is usually already a line of traffic trying to maneuver past.

The more vexing problem is that the posted speed limit hardly applies to real-time traffic; most of I-75 to Atlanta is posted at 70 MPH and if a law-abiding citizen goes 70 in the left lane, there is a chance they will promptly be run over. Typical left-laners consistently use the “eight-plus rule,” which holds the theory that the state highway patrol isn’t going to nab you unless the radar gun catches a driver in excess of 10 miles an hour.

Down around Calhoun this does not apply, particularly with the Gordon County pariahs gleaning “the super slab,” and the newest tool being used by men who would profit from another’s misfortune are orange barrels – speeding in a construction zone doubles the loot. (DeKalb County in Alabama – the Fort Payne area on I-59 -- is using the orange-barrel trick like crazy right now.)

There is also the famed “Signal Mountain trick.” For years the Town of Signal Mountain was believed to juggle the speed limit on Highway 127 going through the town towards Sequatchie County. By raising and lowering the posted speeds by 5 miles an hour, it was a delightful way to prey on drivers crossing the mountain because rarely does a driver read every speed-limit sign.

Cobb County, which includes Marietta, became a leader in speeding-ticket income by craftily dropping the I-75 speed limit to 65, which throws the “eight-plus rule” into immediate havoc when a guy has been going 77 or 78 and doesn’t suspect the trap. Cobb County is famous among the heavy-footed who drive through Georgia and remember, too, Georgia has the “Super Speeder” bonus, which adds $200 to the cost of any ticket over 75 on two-lane highways and over 85 on roads four-lanes or wider.

Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon) sponsored the “Slow Poke Bill,” saying, “My reason for doing this is more for an educational opportunity for people who don’t understand you are not supposed to ride 55, 60 mph in that left lane when you’ve got 15, 16, 17 people lined up behind you.”

Rep. Hitchens, very rightly, called slow drivers “the spark that ignites road rage” The way to avoid road rage is simple: Drive in the right lane as a habit, using only the left lane to pass. In many European countries this is a law and, on Germany’s Autobahn, if a slower car is hit from behind in the left lane, the accident is automatically the slower car’s fault.

There are now 14 states that have raised speed limits to 75 or higher on rural interstates. Idaho and Wyoming both have bills in their legislatures to raise speed limits to 80 while Florida is trying to get to 75. Earlier this month the Georgia legislature passed a bill that would raise the interstate speed in urban areas from 55 to 70.

According to the National Motorists Association, federal and state studies have consistently shown that the drivers most likely to get into accidents – get this – are the ones going less than the average speed. In other words, research shows a person going 10 miles an hour slower than the average speed is more likely to cause an accident than a driver going 10 miles an hour faster than everybody else.

Remember, the solution is simple: Drive in the right lane unless you want to pass. Then get back in the right lane.

royexum@aol.com



County Commission Will Regret Opening Up Pandora's Box

Re: County Commission to allow public discussion on voting items:   Given the profusion of Tea People in Hamilton County, with their compulsion to buy-in to every whacky conspiracy theory on the planet, I'll predict that the Hamilton County Commission will regret but once their recent decision to allow for public comments before voting on agenda items - continuously. ... (click for more)

How To Kill Small Business And Education In Chattanooga

   I would just like to say that the weathermen of Chattanooga have done something I thought only a union could do. They have undone all the economic good that VW has brought to our area. Their erroneous and hysteric forecasts are in my opinion purposefully done to benefit their corporate owners so viewers and readers flock to their felonious broadcasts and yellow ... (click for more)

Joe H. Dempsey, 64, Dies On Friday In Crash Attributed To Icy Roads

A 64-year-old man died in a Hixson Pike traffic crash on Friday morning in a wreck that was attributed to icy roads. The collision involving two vehicles was reported this morning at approximately  7:22 a.m.  in the 9100 block of Hixson Pike.   Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office traffic investigator Todd Cook said a Mazda driven by Joe H. Dempsey was traveling ... (click for more)

Magistrate Says Ex-Boyfriend Threatened Her With Sexual Photos, Videos

Magistrate Sharetta Smith told police that a former boyfriend had sent her a threatening text message with a sexual picture from the time they were dating attached. She said Darian Paris told her in the text that he had more pictures and videos. Paris, 38, of Ooltewah, was arrested on a charge of harassment. Ms. Smith also filed for an order of protection against him in ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Women Advance To SoCon Championship, Defeat Furman 68-55

Behind a career-high 26 points from Jasmine Joyner, top-seeded Chattanooga defeated fifth-seeded Furman, 68-55, in the first semifinal game of the 2015 Southern Conference Women’s Championship, presented by General Shale. The win moves No. 17/18 Chattanooga to 28-3 and puts the Mocs in the tournament-championship game for the third-straight season. The loss ended Furman’s season ... (click for more)

Top Twins Prospects Headed To 2015 Lookouts

Now that the ownership of the Chattanooga Lookouts has been passed on from Frank Burke to the Lookouts Capital group, it is time to get a quick glance at the young men who will be starting the season with the Double-A team of the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers are no longer affiliated with the Lookouts where AT&T Field has been home to several Dodgers' prospects, including ... (click for more)