If you have ever inched forward in traffic only to see
latecomers wiggle in, this bill's for you.
By Erika Bolstad
TALLAHASSEE Veteran commuters know the worst offenders:
They speed up beside you, then cut you off when their lane
Soon, that behavior could earn drivers a ticket, three points
on their license and a fine of more than $80, under legislation
proposed by state Sen. Steve Geller.
It's already unlawful to cross a solid line to pass another
car. But Geller, tired of people cutting in front of him on
South Florida roadways, proposed expanding the law to make
it a moving violation to jump in line in front of other drivers.
''People who think they're better than the rest of us, they
just go to the front,'' said Geller, a Democrat from Hallandale
Beach. ``If I'm going to wait, I want everyone to wait.''
The law would apply to drivers who are ``exiting or entering
a roadway, merging, or traveling through a designated construction
Dennis Stotts remembers an irate driver who stopped his car
in the middle of Interstate 95 during morning rush hour.
The man got out and started screaming at Stotts, an environmental
attorney who has commuted from Hollywood to downtown Miami
for 18 years.
Stotts' offense? Honking at the driver for cutting him off.
''I've gotten kind of numb to it,'' Stotts said.
``But I have called the police if I see somebody so reckless.
People really get crazy.''
Geller's proposal is attached to a transportation bill that
addresses the minutiae of driver's licenses and title and
registration issues. It has final stops in both the Senate
and House appropriations committees, and is expected to pass
easily this year.
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles had no
objection to Geller's idea Tuesday.
''We've all been irritated by waiting and seeing others butt
in,'' said Robert Sanchez, a department spokesman.
The Florida Highway Patrol also welcomed the measure as another
way of cracking down on aggressive drivers, FHP Lt. Roger
J. Reyes said.
''Even a trooper in a patrol car will be sitting in traffic,
and you'll see someone just driving down the shoulder,'' he
Geller said his amendment was inspired last year while driving
to a Marlins playoff game. As he waited to exit the Florida
Turnpike, 90 minutes before the national anthem and with the
stadium in sight, no one was moving except the people
who were cutting around Geller and other carloads of people
''All these jerks were just zooming by on the left,'' Geller
Gregg Laskoski, a spokesman for AAA Auto Club South, questions
whether troopers and patrol officers have time to enforce
an ''it's-not-fair'' traffic law.
''Given the somewhat limited resources of law enforcement,
you would think you would want them to be enforcing more severe
traffic problems, such as running red lights or speeding,''
Most veteran commuters have found ways to deal with the worst
offenders: just let them in.
''I'm not going to get in a fight,'' said Stuart Kinstler,
a Kendall driver who remembers when the morning rush hour
on the Palmetto lasted less than 15 minutes.
``Why fight it? Most people down here carry guns.''