A proposal to ban drivers from the left lane of Ohio highways unless passing another vehicle or using an exit may be an answer to a question no one has raised.
That provision is part of a bill to raise the speed limit on interstates in Ohio from 65 mph to 70 mph. The measure, sponsored by State Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, would make it illegal for drivers to use the left lane of a highway except when overtaking a slower vehicle, using an exit on the left, allowing other motorists to merge from right or when road conditions make using the right lane unsafe.
Maag said restricting drivers' use of the fast lane would make Ohio's highways safer. That rationale would sound better in a bill which wouldn't raise the speed limit, a move that arguably would not improve highway safety.
It's useful to note highway safety has improved, however. Ohio State Highway Patrol data states troopers investigated 6,266 crashes last year, 449 fewer than in 2010. The patrol also tallied 997 confirmed and 32 unconfirmed fatalities in 2011, compared with 1,080 deaths in 2010.
These stats compel us not just to question whether limitations on left-lane usage need to be more strict, but also ask whether we really need to raise speed limits.
Maag's measure isn't an attempt to legislate morality. The proposal would try to improve highway etiquette.
Note also the patrol has reported more seizures of illegal drugs by troopers, including a 663 percent rise in cocaine seizures, 69 percent more heroin seizures, a 46 percent boost in illegal prescription pill seizures and 7 percent increase in marijuana seizures.
Sounds like there are better uses for troopers' efforts, such as enforcing existing laws regarding illegal drugs.