House defeat slows bill that could benefit speedy drivers

February 26, 2003|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

What one lawmaker called "the macho drivers in the pickup trucks" lost a preliminary bout yesterday as the House of Delegates defeated a bill requiring drivers in the left lane -- even those going the speed limit -- to pull to the right to let lead-footed motorists pass.

After a long and sometimes humorous debate, delegates voted 69-65 in favor of the bill, which fell two votes short of the 71 required for passage. Later in the session, however, proponents won a voice vote to reconsider the bill as soon as today.

Supporters of the measure, sponsored by Del. Kevin Kelly, portrayed the measure as a "safety bill" that would codify what the state Motor Vehicle Administration prescribes in its driver training manuals.

Critics said the bill would protect aggressive drivers and penalize motorists who drive safely.

Del. Carmen Amedori suggested the legislation was overly driven by testosterone.

"This is a macho bill, and I urge all the women in the General Assembly to vote against it -- and anyone over 45," the Carroll County Republican said.

Kelly, an Allegany County Democrat, protested that his bill "has nothing to do with pickup trucks, gun racks or big dogs."

Under the bill, drivers who fail to yield the left lane to faster-traveling vehicles could be subject to a fine and a point on their driver's licenses.

"To me it makes no sense to require someone going the speed limit to move over to the right" to accommodate a speeder, said Del. Anthony G. Brown, a Prince George's County Democrat.

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