It’s happened to all of us; that feeling of annoyance, the hair standing up on the back of your neck, frustration nearly blinding you… someone cruising in the fast lane and driving slower than the surrounding traffic.
Fast lane blocked by slow traffic via YouTube
That’s not the only annoying thing that drivers do in the fast lane. They leave more than 20 car lengths between themselves and the car in front of them; they match the speed of the person next to them, which is blocking anyone from passing in either lane; and they speed up and slow down based on how much they are paying attention. All of these things are annoying, and depending on what state you are in or if you are driving on a federal highway, any of them could be illegal!
State Law Sign via NewsOK
Of course, Jeremy Clarkson has one of the best quotes on speed of all time:
Yes, you read that right, it is illegal in many states and on every federal highway to cruise in the fast lane. The U.S. Uniform Vehicle Code states:
“Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic…”
Keep Right Except to Pass Sign
Additionally, it is illegal in many states in the U.S. to use the fast lane (far left or passing lane) on a federal highway as a cruising lane, as opposed to passing, and you must yield to faster moving traffic that is attempting to overtake in that lane. One example is Colorado’s “Left Lane Law” that states:
“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed-limit is sixty-five miles per hour or more unless such person is passing other motor-vehicles that are in a non-passing lane…”
Keep right except to pass via CorvetteForum
In states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, by law you must yield to overtaking traffic in the left lane, and it is additionally illegal to create any other “obstruction” in the passing lane that hinders the flow of traffic. In these states, heavy trucks are typically prohibited from using the passing lane. Should this be the law in all 50 states?
In Colorado and Kentucky, vehicles cruising in the left lane are required to pull over for faster traffic if the posted speed limit is 65 miles per hour or above. In California, slower traffic must keep to the right “notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits.” Unfortunately, some states, like Alaska, have no laws requiring slower traffic to move over for faster traffic.
Here is a list of all the laws by state:
Left Lane laws via NewsWorks.org
In a recent article from U.S. News, Alexis Wainwright tells us that in Maryland the state legislature is cracking down on slow-pokes taking up the left lane. They have recently passed a bill that would fine drivers up to $250.00 for holding up the flow of traffic.
Should every state maintain and enforce keep right laws?
As it turns out, not only would traffic flow better if Keep Right laws were enforced, but it would make the roads safer as well! Check this video out:
Of course, some drivers in the fast lane are sinning simply by driving the wrong type of vehicle; semi-trailers and RV trailers simply have no business in the fast lane! That goes as well for tow-trucks, work trucks, food vendor trucks, anything towing something, and of course anyone driving a Prius! Are there any other vehicles that should be prohibited from the fast lane?
Back in 2003, the boys were giving us some great statistics about speeding and accidents. In Top Gear UK Series 2, Jeremy Clarkson gives us a statistic that only 7% of all accidents are caused by speeding!
No doubt, if police officers spent less time writing speeding tickets and more time enforcing Keep Right laws, it would reduce the rate of accidents and improve traffic flow!
Keep driving my friends!
My thanks to Larry for all his great help with this article.