New Alabama road laws take effect Sept. 1

Scott Young, News Editor

Several new laws that will affect Alabama drivers are set to take effect on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Earlier this year, the Alabama legislature passed HB 212 that places a limit on how many miles someone can travel in the left lane of a highway without passing a vehicle.

Rep. Phillip Pettus, the state legislator who sponsored the bill, coined it as the “Anti-Road Rage Act”.

Pettus argues that the law is designed to prevent drivers from becoming angry or violent when stuck behind slower left-lane drivers, something he says is the cause of numerous accidents.

“Over the years, I noticed there’s a big problem with drivers who remain in the left lane,” said Pettus. “What it does is it impedes traffic and makes it unsafe for other drivers.”

The law limits drivers to one and a half miles in the left lane, with exceptions for inclement weather, left exits, traffic congestion and construction. A 60-day grace period will take place beginning Sept. 1. During the grace period, officers will issue warnings rather than tickets.

Concurrently, a new law regarding seat belts takes effect Sept. 1. Alabama’s current seat belt laws only apply to front seat passengers and children riding in the back seat, but beginning Sept. 1, all back seat passengers will be required to buckle up.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 14,955 lives in the United States were saved due to seat belt use.

Rob Schaffer, the Chief of Jacksonville State University Police Department, encourages students traveling around campus and beyond to fasten their seat belts.

“I applaud the passing of this law,” said Schaffer. “Wearing seat belts is one of the most important safety measures a driver or occupant of a vehicle can do. Seat belts can reduce serious injuries or fatalities in the event you’re involved in an accident. Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not as a replacement. So please buckle up and stay alert.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Stephens

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