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DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Slow lane is on right, signs say

June 22, 2019 at 4:30 a.m.

Dear All-Knowing Mahatma: I made a recent road trip to Northwest Arkansas on Interstate 40 and it appears the gods of ArDot have heard my prayers. There are signs stating "State Law Slower Traffic Keep Right." I don't recall seeing these signs in December. The message seems to be sinking in as my round trip average speed was 74 mph. What's the low-down? -- Speedy VW

Dear Speedy: To our knowledge, the state's highest interstate speed limit is 70. Yet you averaged 74? Perhaps you thought you were in Texas, where 75 mph is the limit on much of that state's massive interstate system.

This newspaper's transportation beat reporter is the esteemed Noel Oman. He knows more about transportation matters -- by air, land and sea -- than we ever will.

Mr. Oman reported in February that the Arkansas Department of Transportation was putting up yellow signs that said "State Law" on top of the signs that say "Slower Traffic Stay Right." This is to emphasize to drivers that keeping right is law rather than suggestion, hope or prayer. In fact, readers of this column have yanked their hair in frustration for years over slowpokes in the fast lane of multi-lane highways.

The law in question is Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-301. It tells drivers that vehicles can't be driven in the left lane except to pass unless the right lane is closed, in disrepair, or when preparing to exit from the left.

Speaking of Texas, and of our readers, we recall more than one reader who has suggested our neighboring state's signage is better. Those signs say "Keep Right Except to Pass."


We are derelict in many ways -- just ask Herself -- one of which was in not updating readers on Act 690 of 2019, which has a name so gloriosky that it can't be uttered in one breath, but which concerns the riding of bicycles on public roads in our fair state.

Also electric bicycles and animals. We kid you not.

A mention was recently made of this thing in this space, but it bears expansion.

Used to be that riders of bicycles and critters had to stop at stop signs and red lights. The new law says that such riders at a stop sign now:

• Shall stop if there is an immediate hazard.

• Shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

• But otherwise may cautiously turn right, or turn left, or proceed through the intersection without stopping.

Regarding red lights, riders of bicycles and critters shall:

• Make a complete stop before entering the intersection.

• Yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic that constitutes a hazard.

• After doing so, may proceed through the intersection, even if the light remains red.

This strikes us as yielding to reality. We have seen many bicyclists proceed through stop signs and red lights without actually, um, stopping.

Horses, mules and other animal conveyances appear to be somewhat scarcer.

Vanity plate: HOLYRLR

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SundayMonday on 06/22/2019

Print Headline: DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Slow lane is on right, signs say


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