Slow Left Lane Driving: The Law and Why It’s So Dangerous

1 Feb

vector many cars on road

Slow left lane drivers are a pet peeve for many people on the road. Are you one of them?

But not only is slow left lane driving annoying, it can also be really dangerous. Many people drive in the left lane on a regular basis and don’t even realize they’re breaking the law. But believe it or not, every state in America has some type of law that discourages left lane driving. Here’s what you need to know about the legality and the dangers of driving in the left lane.

Left Lane Driving Laws

All 50 states permit drivers to use the left lane for passing when there is more than one car traveling in the same direction. However, most states don’t allow left lane usage for slow moving vehicles that make no attempt to pass or turn. Some restrictive state laws designate the left lane only for passing or turning left, while other states require drivers to move right if they are blocking left lane traffic behind them.

For a quick overview of left lane driving laws in a particular state, check out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) website for “keep right” laws.

Why These Laws Exist

Legally or illegally, the chances are that someone else is driving faster than you on the road. By implementing left lane laws, states hope to help drivers get to their destinations as quickly as possible without traffic backups and unnecessary road rage.

Lane Courtesy Month

Slow left lane driving is such a big deal in America that the National Motorists Association (NMA) actually named June “Lane Courtesy Month.” It’s a simple concept, but a significant one, and the campaign specifically targets drivers who are intentionally and maliciously less than courteous while driving.

As the NMA points out, “If everyone would practice lane courtesy, driving would be more enjoyable, our roads would be safer, congestion would be reduced, and we would even save money on gas!”

Police Cracking Down

In some states, law enforcement has been cracking down on left lane drivers and actually issuing tickets for the offense. Police in Illinois, Washington, Texas, and Ohio have issued tickets to left lane drivers to get the message across. In doing so, the officials hope to reduce traffic jams and accidents caused by impatient drivers trying to squeeze around slower drivers.

Research has shown that lane changes account for as much as 10 percent of highway accidents. When slow left lane drivers are scattered across the road, faster drivers must change lanes more often to weave back and forth around them.

What You Can Do To Help

NMA has a few suggestions for drivers who want to help promote awareness about the dangers and legal ramifications of slow left lane driving. The best thing that you can do on the road is to lead by example and encourage your friends and family to practice lane courtesy when they drive as well.

You can write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to raise awareness about the issue in your hometown and even contact your state legislators to encourage them to support stronger lane courtesy laws. If your state already has implemented lane courtesy laws, you can also write to the highway patrol or state police to voice your concerns about enforcing the law on local roads.

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