General Question

TheBox193's avatar

Is it legal to pass a car in the right lane on a four lane highway

Asked by TheBox193 (987points) August 13th, 2009 from IM

My family and I disagree , but I thought distinctly remember reading in the rules of the road that is the only time you can pass on the right of a car (aka no passing on the shoulder)

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20 Answers

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Sure. As long as you don’t go off on the shoulder, it’s allowed. I’ve done it 100 times. If the person next to you or in front of you on your left is going too slow, pass them.

marinelife's avatar

The laws vary by state. Where are you? This is from the state of Nebraska:

“Use the left lane to pass another vehicle. You can use
the right lane when passing a vehicle that is making a
left turn. Never use the shoulders to pass.”

Sarcasm's avatar

I can’t imagine it being illegal. Out here (Southern california) it’s a pretty common occurrence. People pass any way they can, left or right.

marinelife's avatar

Here are the rules for Illinois

“You must drive on the right half of the roadway except:

* when passing another vehicle moving in the same direction on a two-lane highway, interstate highway or controlled freeway.”

In Wisconsin:

State “keep right” laws

You may use the left lane (when there is more than one lane in your direction) to pass. You may or may not be able to use the left lane when not passing. The table below describes the law in effect in each state.

A few states permit use of the left lane only for passing or turning left. These have “yes” in the “keep right” column. Six states require drivers to move right if they are blocking traffic in the left lane. Most states follow the Uniform Vehicle Code and require drivers to keep right if they are going slower than the normal speed of traffic (regardless of the speed limit; see below). These are listed as “slower”, with an asterisk and an explanation under “comments” if vehicles lawfully using the left lane must yield to overtaking traffic. A few states either do not require vehicles to keep right (“no”), or permit vehicles moving at the speed limit to drive in the left lane regardless of traffic conditions (”<SL”).

The color coding in the “keep right” column is red if the state has no restriction on slow vehicles in the left lane, yellow if vehicles moving at the normal speed of traffic are permitted in the left lane even when they are unnecessarily obstructing other traffic, green if use of the left lane is limited to passing, and grey otherwise.

Wisconsin slower 346.05(3) (Note: this is yellow on the chart.)

avvooooooo's avatar

I’ve always heard that the only way you can legally pass a car, other than one that is turning left, is in the left lane. That is called the “fast lane” or the “passing lane” for a reason. Passing cars on the right is illegal in most cases, but if someone is going extremely slow and/or creating a hazard in the left lane, you probably wouldn’t get in trouble for passing on the right. I only pass on the right on the interstate or a 4 lane highway when someone is going slow and after I have come up behind them and given them a chance to move over themselves since they need to be in the right lane if they wish to drive slower than the surrounding traffic.

b's avatar

It is not legal to pass on the right in most states. You can only pass on the left (driver side) of a car.
@jbfletcherfan Just because you have done it 100s of times and not been caught, does not mean its allowed.

Jack79's avatar

I’m pretty sure that it’s illegal everywhere (except of course in countries such as Australia where people drive on the left to start with). But it’s one of these rules that nobody follows. It’s also illegal for the car you’re passing to be driving on the left lane anyway, they should always be driving as far right as possible, which means you should be overtaking them from the left. But they drive slow and in the middle, so you end up overtaking them from the right lane, and nobody cares as long as there’s no accident. Both cars have broken regulations though when this happens.

marinelife's avatar

@Jack79 I follow it. I think a lot of people do.

FrogOnFire's avatar

“It’s also illegal for the car you’re passing to be driving on the left lane anyway”

I sometimes drive 5 MPH over the speed limit, so I would assume that would make it necessary to be in the left lane. However, the guy behind me who is 15-minutes late for his meeting, driving 15 PMH over the limit usually passes me to the right. Besides the fact that I’m driving over the speed limit (there’s no 9 MPH “buffer” in Illinois—a state police officer once informed me of this), am I really at fault for driving in the “fast lane?”

Jack79's avatar

@FrogOnFire yes. You are breaking two laws: one is the speed limit and the other the “drive on the right” law. Whether the car behind you is also breaking the speed limit is irrelevant.

mattbrowne's avatar

Which country?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

It’s legal in Illinois. I learned that in traffic school, because unfortunately, it is not legal to do 74 in a 55 zone.

avvooooooo's avatar

@FrogOnFire The law is that that slower moving traffic drives on the right. If you want to move slower than the people around you and everyone is passing you on the right, that is a sign that you need to move over. That’s why if someone is in the “fast” lane, meaning “faster than the people in the next right lane,” and I come up behind them, I give them the opportunity to get over and stop breaking the law themselves. Not tailgating, but suggestion by coming up behind them and just sitting there a car length and a half back, sometimes with flashing my lights. Driving slowly in the left hand lane compared to other traffic is dangerous as well as illegal (and also the reason why its illegal).

Btw, people behind you flashing their lights when you’re moving slowly in the “fast lane” means that they want you to get over and not make them feel like they have to pass you on the right.

generous's avatar

I feel that if I’m going the speed LIMIT I have the right to be in the LEFT lane. If someone wants to go faster than me they can find their way around me. Normally I’m very generous on the road but sometimes I just like to stay put!

avvooooooo's avatar

@generous Staying in the left lane and making people pass you on the right is not only illegal, its extremely dangerous. You may think its your right, but you’re really endangering others on the road, more so than the speeders, as well as yourself.

Jack79's avatar

…plus it’s illegal to be on the left, even if you are going at the speed limit, or even above it. Whether the other guy is breaking the law by driving over the speed limit is irrelevant, you are also breaking the law by not keeping to the right (you’re supposed to drive on the furthest available lane on the right at all times, even if you’re going at twice the speed limit and you’re the only person on the whole highway).

Sarcasm's avatar

...So anybody who’s in the left lane, at any time, is breaking the law? Why do we have left lanes in the first place?

avvooooooo's avatar

@Sarcasm Passing. Its riding in the left lane past the time that it takes to pass the car in the right lane that is illegal in some states. In others, you’re allowed to drive in the left lane as long as you’re going faster than the traffic in the right lane(s).

knucklehead's avatar

Truck drivers cant see you directly behind them .When you start to pass on the right side and they begin to move to the right at the same time.YOU PUT YOURSELF in a bad position.
It may be legal to pass on the right but is also dangerous.

zapper's avatar

In the State of Alabama, it is legal to pass in the right lane. You are not required to pass in the left lane. The left lane is not considered a passing lane only. I really don’t understand why people complain so much about the left lane and are so concerned about left lane passing! It doesn’t matter if you are a truck driver or other driver; there is always a blind spot to deal with. If you are capable of driving safely, you should have no problem passing in the left lane, middle lane, or right lane (i.e., any passable lane).

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