Snail crossing the road [by Flickr user schristia]Enlarge Photo
Let's face it: Florida is a little eccentric.
Not crazy eccentric, like your loose-cannon uncle who makes everyone cringe when he opens his mouth at Thanksgiving dinner. No, Florida is like your amusingly eccentric third cousin who throws big, elaborate birthday parties for her pet iguana. (Except in Florida, the iguana's a mouse named Mickey, and he's got a net worth of several billion dollars.)
So, when we hear the words "Florida" and "new law" used in the same sentence, we usually brace ourselves. But this week's legislative report requires none of that, because Florida is doing something decidedly sensible: it's going to begin ticketing slowpoke drivers.
Florida already has a law on the books that fines motorists who drive slower than the minimum speed limit, which is 50 mph on 70 mph roads. However, a new law that goes into effect today will specifically target drivers who park their keisters in the passing lane.
According to the Florida Times-Union, any motorist in the left lane who's traveling more than 10 miles below the posted speed limit is now subject to a fine of $60 and a three-point moving violation.
In other words, like its neighbor to the north, Florida has created two minimum speed limits -- one for each travel lane. In a 70 mph zone, for example, drivers will need to maintain a speed of 60 mph or higher in the passing lane and 50 mph or higher in the slow lane.
Fans of the new law -- which was passed as part of a much larger transportation bill -- hope that it can reduce road rage and traffic congestion. We would think that it could cut down on accidents, too: studies have shown that collisions are more likely when the difference in speed between drivers is significant. In other words, if everyone's moving well above the speed limit at 90 mph, they're less likely to have an accident than if most are going 70 mph and one person is put-putting along at 50 mph.
Florida Highway Patrol Sargent Dylan Bryan says that tickets won't be doled out right away. There'll be up to six months of warnings issued, just to bring drivers up to speed.