Our View: Please drive to the right, as state law requires

February 9, 2019

Among the 1,500 or so bills filed this legislative session is one that should warm many Arizona drivers’ hearts for its intent even if it won’t pass.

The bill would provide signs along Arizona’s rural highways reminding drivers to use the left lane only to pass other vehicles.

That’s the law. We never see it enforced, but it should be. It would make traffic flow more smoothly.

Rep. Bob Thorpe, a Flagstaff Republican, is seeking $200,000 for the signs. A similar bill last year failed to pass.

Maybe that’s a metaphor for the frustration drivers feel on the state’s roads. Even when driving under the speed limit, it’s hard to pass.

As Thorpe noted in a news story, the real cruncher is on interstates, when a truck going 45 miles per hour tries to pass one going 44 miles per hour. That’s common. It’s bad driving. And there’s nothing someone driving a measly two-ton vehicle can do about it when they’re in the line of cars waiting for this slow-motion travesty to finish.

Lake Havasu City’s only road in or out of town — State Route 95 — has its own set of problems. One that complicates smooth traffic flow is the driver who takes the left lane ten miles per hour under the speed limit when the right lane is also moving slowly.

In a city, the rule for driving to the right is a little sullied because the left lane can also be in play for upcoming left turns. Unless that’s the situation, traffic flow benefits from drivers keeping to the right lane.

At least a couple of other states post reminder signs to keep right in order to avoid impeding traffic.

Those signs, and the potential ones in Arizona, are constituent driven. People understandably want to use the roads to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.

Even if approved, signs are not the whole answer. It requires driver awareness. The “drive on the right” law should be highlighted in driver license exams. It should be prominently posted on all roads entering the state. Violations should be ticketed by law enforcement.

In comparison to its size, Arizona doesn’t have a lot of roads making it easy to get from one area to another. It takes more than three hours, for example, to drive from Lake Havasu City to Prescott, which is only 100 miles away as the crow flies.

The drive shouldn’t be forced to be longer just because lane blockers are either inattentive or ignorant of the law.

— Today’s News-Herald