Sarcastic Secret: The Left Lane is for Passing

February 4, 2010 at 12:41 am 2 comments

This is another one of those things that shouldn’t be a secret, but every time I go on the highway it seems like nobody knows about it.

I assume all my readers are perfectly safe drivers, only driving in the left lane when they need to pass another car, or in gridlock when proper traffic flow isn’t possible anyway. But if you know someone who blocks the left lane then you can share this with them as a subtle hint. Oh, and if someone shared this with you, they probably think you hate left lane bandits just as much as them.

We are constantly reminded by highway signs that say, “slower traffic keep right.” But, it’s not just the law, it’s common courtesy — we all need to share the road.

Keeping the left lane clear is important. Not just because it’s the other driver’s right to pass you, but because it is safer. When everyone plays by the same road rules, then everything is more predictable, there are fewer surprises and fewer accidents — that’s why these laws exist, they’re not just for fun.

One of these laws, at least in North America, is to pass on the left. If everyone did this, you would never have a car approach you from behind on your right side. Which, isn’t a big deal if you’re going to make a planned lane change, if you didn’t notice the car approach then you would see them when you check your blind spot anyway. But, if you need to make an emergency maneuver, it’s nice to be able to count on the fact that nobody will be there and you’ve got a safe “Plan B.”

Some people defend their right to drive in the left lane by saying they don’t have to let the faster car pass because that car is speeding (and breaking the law). The fact is, we all drive at different speeds and we all believe that we are driving at the ideal speed (which it is, for us). I think George Carlin said it best, “Did you ever notice that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?” If they really are a maniac, that’s a great reason to move out of their way and let them pass.

I also see a lot of really slow drivers move immediately into the middle lane when they enter a freeway. I think they do this so they don’t have to deal with other cars merging at upcoming on ramps. Unfortunately, these slow drivers clog the middle lane which pushes the slightly faster drivers into the left lane. In the name of safety and traffic flow, slow drivers should remain the right lane whenever possible.

While the exact laws may vary from country to country and state to state, the general rule is that the left lane is for passing (or the right lane in some places). If someone wants to pass you, the courteous and legal thing to do is: move over when it’s safe.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Entry filed under: Automotive, Be Efficient, Demystified, ProTips, Sarcastic. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Understanding Trucker Signals « Broken Secrets  |  April 26, 2010 at 12:02 am

    […] Another signal is for lane change clearance. Because semi-trucks are so long, it can be difficult for the driver to tell if he can safely change lanes in front of you. You can quickly flash your headlights when his trailer clears your car and there is room for him to move back into the driving lane (as appose to the passing lane). […]

  • 2. James Michael Smith  |  August 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    We’re not talking about slow drivers. What if you[re doing 90 in a 55, following a car ahead, that car also doing 90. Does the maniac behind you have the right to make you move over so he can move up at that speed? Does he have the right to get ahead at any speed? JMS (


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