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



Roy Exum: ‘No’ To Schools Budget

When the Hamilton County Commissioners and officials of the Hamilton County Department of Education met for 3 ½ hours on Tuesday, they studied a proposed budget of roughly $385 million – this $24.2 million over an anticipated $361 million in revenues. Now let’s pretend it is a Tuesday night at your own kitchen table and your favorite son – after misbehaving in a somewhat stunning ... (click for more)

No More Money For Schools

Re: County Commission Told To Fully Fund County Schools Improvement Request Would Take 28 1/2-Cent Property Tax Increase; 78 School Personnel Would Be Added No. No way. Really, NO! is not a big enough word to express my sentiments here. Even the exclamation point doesn’t add enough to do the job properly.  Mr. Coppinger said, “They are saying if you do this, we’re ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke Pledges $6 Million For New Recreation Center At Avondale

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that he plans to include $6 million in his upcoming budget for a new Recreation Center at Avondale. He said at a press conference at the current center on Dodson Avenue, "We want to make an investment in Avondale." Mayor Berke said the current center by Wilcox Boulevard was built in 1949 and last remodeled in 2002. The new center, which ... (click for more)

Developer Plans Single-Family Homes, Townhomes, Apartments, Retail On 7.5 Acres At South Broad Street

A developer is planning single-family homes, apartments, townhomes and retail on a 7.5-acre South Broad Street site. The development by South Broad LLC and DEW LLC is located within several blocks between South Broad Street, W. 26th Street, Long Street and W. 27th Street. It would include a 3-story U-shaped apartment building with ground floor retail at the north end of the ... (click for more)

Hurricanes Whip McMinn County, 9-1, In 5-3A Baseball

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Three times Jordan Gorman set the table. Nick Woods punched three hits to the outfield and drove Gorman home in the third, fifth and sixth innings, powering East Hamilton to a 9-1 victory over McMinn County in the opening game of the District 5-3A baseball tournament at Cleveland High School on Wednesday. “Our mission was to win this game,” Gorman said, ... (click for more)

District 5-3A Softball Tournament Plans Finalized By Coaches

District 5-3A softball coaches are now ready for the second season. They hope their teams are, too. At a luncheon to finalize plans for the district tournament on Wednesday, the opening pairings were set in stone and play will begin Friday with three games, each starting at 5 p.m. at the highest seeded team. Second-seeded Soddy-Daisy (24-7) will host No. 7 Bradley ... (click for more)