HONOLULU (KHON2) — Keeping things moving is the goal of a new law that will go into effect in 2024 that prohibits certain heavy vehicles from using the left lane on Hawaii roadways.
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The left lane is often called the fast lane and the Hawaii Transportation Department pointed out the flow of traffic usually is faster than center and right lanes. So, when should drivers use it?
“That left lane should be — where possible — should be utilized just to pass and get back into, into those right lanes.”Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation director.
Commercial vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or more will be prohibited from using far left lanes thanks to a new law that will go into effect, but there are exceptions.
“If they have to make a left turn, if access points in that left turn area or if they’re passing a vehicle and going the speed of the vehicles in that area,” Sniffen said.
City busses and TheHandi-Van are also exempt from the rule.
State Rep. Diamond Garcia supported the bill and said far left lanes should be passing lanes.
“In most states, it already exists,” Rep. Garcia said. “And so this just basically codifies it and forces all local companies to abide by that rule that makes sense!”
“Especially those big semi trucks which go so slow in the far left lane. And then you have slow drivers on the other three lanes. Right. And so it’s like, ‘Oh, come on guys, at least go the speed limit.'” Rep. Diamond Garcia, (R) Varona Village, Ewa, Kapolei
Folks may think of freeways when it comes to passing lanes, but the law will actually apply to commercial vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or more on any roadway with three or more lanes.
“So three lanes or more, those commercial vehicles are restricted from a left lane unless they have, unless they’re going to be turning left in the light. So the intent is to keep things moving as quickly as possible, as safely as possible throughout the system,” Sniffen said.
A local driving instructor pointed out that some heavy vehicles have no problem keeping up with the flow of the left lane.
“They’re basically — if they’re going over the speed limit — they don’t have to observe that rule because it’s only if you’re going to obstruct the vehicle,” said Wong Way Driving Academy owner Steven Wong.
KHON2 asked if it should be a courtesy for vehicles to move over if they are not moving at the speed of traffic in the fast lane.
“Exactly. Yeah, we review that with the students that, you know, as a courtesy especially, you don’t stay in that lane for very long if you’re not passing another vehicle,” Wong said.
The bill passed final reading in May, 2023 with 23 votes for and two votes against. The law will go into effect on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.