Making Sense of Left Lane Driving

There are many laws about left lane driving.

Left lane driving is a touchy subject these days.

Over in Washington state, troopers stationed in unmarked cars are now ticketing slow left lane drivers. Meanwhile, Georgia recently increased the penalty for violating the state’s left lane driving law to a misdemeanor charge.

Regular citizens are also weighing in about left lane driving. There are now several websites and Facebook® groups devoted to sharing the message that left lanes are no places for slow drivers. (Just one is Left Lane Drivers of America.) The National Motorists Association also took a stand when it declared June Lane Courtesy Month in an effort to remind drivers about yielding to faster traffic.

Traditional driving etiquette says that the left lane is for faster drivers looking to pass other cars. This is one reason why it’s commonly called the “passing lane.” Besides aiding in the efficiency of traffic and preventing traffic jams, reserving left lanes for faster cars may also keep the roads safer.

That’s because research shows that accidents stem more from the variance of average drivers’ speeds than from speeding itself. Slower drivers in the left lane will cause faster drivers to slow down, speed up and change lanes more than they should. And that, researchers say, causes the majority of accidents.

States take a stand

Today, every state has legal measures to regulate left lane driving. In 29 states, any car that’s going slower than the surrounding traffic needs to move into the right lane. Eleven other states take it a step further than that: They mandate that the left lane is only for passing or turning.

No matter what your views are on this issue, it’s a good idea to know your state’s left lane driving laws—and to drive safely no matter which lane you’re in.

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