Griffo pushes no-‘coasting’ bill

Sen. Joseph Griffo meets with village and town of Massena officials during a visit to Massena on Sunday. One of the topics he touched on during his visit was a proposed “failure to pass” act that would prohibit coasting in the left lane on sections of interstate highways. Bob Beckstead/Johnson Newspapers

MASSENA — Although it’s not a high priority, state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo would like to see some action taken to approve a proposed “failure to pass” act that would prohibit “coasting” in the left lane on sections of interstate highways.

“Is it a priority? Absolutely not. The priority is how do we find more jobs, how do we lower taxes, what do we do to make things happen? We’re aware there are higher priorities,” Sen. Griffo, R-I-C, Rome, said during a Sunday visit to Massena. “Every now and then, people come up with something like this. You go back and think about it. It resonates, but nothing really happens.”

He proposed legislation on Sept. 6 that would require drivers to use the far left lane only for passing.

Under Bill S6675A, “coasting” in the lane for more than 1.5 miles could result in a $50 fine for the first offense and a $100 fine for every time thereafter. No points would be added to a license for this offense, unlike most other moving violations.

“If we can stop impeding the flow of traffic, then we can prevent the safety hazards of people passing on the right. We can try to discourage road rage when someone is tailgating because they’re just trying to get the guy to move,” Sen. Griffo said.

“I’ve talked to a few law enforcement. There’s nothing in the VTL (vehicle traffic laws) specifically for that. They actually liked it. The cops were saying, ‘This will give us a section to cite if we had to.’ They don’t have to. It’s their discretion, which I rely on. I trust them. It’s their job,” he said.

Sen. Griffo said the New York law would be based on a similar one passed in Alabama that limits the amount of time a person can stay in the left lane. Similar laws have been enacted in more than a dozen states, including Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

“I said, ‘Why can’t we look into it?’ We had staff research it. I said, “Let’s put a bill in that actually does make sense,’” he said.

If it becomes law, Sen. Griffo said there were several ways to enforce it. It might be a marked vehicle that sees something happen and intercedes, or a position car that can see what’s happening. Aerial surveillance is used to catch speeding vehicles, and that could also be used to enforce the law.

“They are already up there doing that,” he said. “There are a lot of things they can do.”

The legislation has been referred to the state Senate’s Rules Committee for consideration and Sen. Griffo said he is working on companion legislation for the Assembly.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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