Is pass­ing on the right re­ally that safe, or was that even con­sid­ered?

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

At a re­cent public meet­ing held by Del. Deb Rey (R-St. Mary’s), we learned that Mary­land had just fi­nal­ized a new law per­mit­ting pass­ing on the right, to avoid hav­ing to stop be­hind a left-turn­ing ve­hi­cle. It is to go into ef­fect later in the year. Go­ing around a left-turn­ing ve­hi­cle by cross­ing over the solid white line and pass­ing on the right us­ing the shoul­der lane will be per­mit­ted with few ex­cep­tions in HB 1456. Two safety fea­tures re­quired un­der the new law are that there be an un­ob­structed view to pass and that no ve­hi­cles be parked in the shoul­der.

The leg­isla­tive record in­di­cates that un­der ex­ist­ing law, 3,466 ci­ta­tions were is­sued in FY 2016 for driv­ing off the road­way while pass­ing to the right. There is no in­for­ma­tion pro­vided on the num­ber of in­juries, deaths or mo­tor ve­hi­cle dam­ages resulting from pass­ing on the right whether or not a ci­ta­tion was is­sued.

Ap­par­ently, the im­pact on any­thing other than the state’s bank ac­count was not con­sid­ered. In this county alone, I can re­call at least two fa­tal ac­ci­dents in re­cent years that were caused by left-turn­ing ve­hi­cles be­ing clipped by ve­hi­cles pass­ing on the right, thus push­ing them into on­com­ing traf­fic.

As a fre­quent driver ... over the years I have ob­served the fol­low­ing kinds of traf­fic in the shoul­der lanes: chil­dren play­ing; horse-drawn Amish con­veyances; many forms of bi­cy­clists from com­peti­tors fly­ing along in tightly packed groups to sin­gle, ca­sual bi­cy­clists; fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als on foot out for a stroll and often with their pets; peo­ple push­ing baby car­riages; four-wheel­ers cruis­ing at both slow and very high speeds; deer, birds and other an­i­mals; jog­gers; and slow-mov­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cles. I have also ob­served the in­tent of some driv­ers who ap­pear to be hell bent for leather to get from point A to point B within the min­i­mally pos­si­ble elapsed time. I con­fess that maybe that is me on oc­ca­sion. And I have also noted that some driv­ers will use the shoul­der lane at high speeds, not aware that the car in front of them is about to do the same thing to avoid slow­ing down for a left-turn­ing car. At night, it is par­tic­u­larly hard to see ac­tiv­ity in the right shoul­der.

Per­haps some­body should be­gin Go­FundMe ac­counts now to help the sur­vivors of the in­evitable ac­ci­dents that will oc­cur di­rectly be­cause of this new law and driver er­ror. Given the fact that thou­sands of ci­ta­tions were is­sued in just one year when it was il­le­gal to pass on the right, can you imag­ine how many times it will oc­cur when it is no longer specif­i­cally il­le­gal?

Per­haps the leg­is­la­ture and the gov­er­nor should take a hard, traf­fic safety-based look at this new law be­fore it goes into ef­fect, and if war­ranted, re­peal it be­fore more peo­ple are hurt or killed.

Ar­lie Bryan Siebert, Scot­land

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