Whether you are cruising down an open stretch of highway in a rural area or trying to maneuver through traffic in a busy urban area, you may have multiple lanes to choose from. In some areas, you may see signs that indicate that the left lane on a highway, a freeway, or another major road is intended for passing only. However, it is common to see drivers traveling long distances in these left lanes. Even when there is space available for them to move over to a lane to the right, some drivers choose to continue to cruise in the left lane. Other drivers may actively accelerate to a high rate of speed in the left lane.
If you find yourself doing this from time to time, there are several reasons why you may want to adjust your driving habits and use the left lane for the purpose that it is intended to be used for.
Against the Law
State driving laws vary, but many states have laws that prohibit cruising in the left lane or acceleration in the left lane of major freeways and highways.
- Some states categorize this as aggressive driving or unsafe driving.
- Others classify it as failure to obey posted traffic signs, reckless driving, unsafe driving or something else.
- In many of these cases, the offense is punished with a traffic citation. This may include a fine, points added to your driving record and other penalties.
- If you already have points on your record, it may result in your driver’s license being suspended or an increase to your auto insurance rates.
Because the laws vary by state, it is important to stay to the right and avoid driving aggressively when you are driving in unfamiliar areas.
Impeding the Flow of Traffic
While the fact that this type of behavior is against the law may be enough to dissuade many from traveling or accelerating in the left hand lanes, there are other reasons why drivers may want to avoid this behavior.
- The left hand lanes of major thoroughfares generally is intended to be used for passing, and the cruising lanes are located to the right.
- When drivers cruise along in the left lane, the ability for other drivers to pass is impeded.
- Some view these lanes as fast lanes rather than passing lanes, but not all drivers travel at the same speed even in the fast lane.
When drivers cruise in the left lane, others will not be able to use it for passing, and the general flow of traffic is blocked.
Safe Driving Habits
Traffic laws are in place to keep you and others safe and to promote the efficient flow of traffic. When you do not obey the same laws that others obey, the effectiveness of the laws may be diminished.
- The passing lane law, for example, is intended to promote smoother flow of traffic and to ease congestion.
- Other drivers may become angry in some cases when you do not obey the same laws that they are obeying, such as if you block traffic when cruising in the left lane.
- This may create a road rage issue, or it may cause others to drive more aggressively around you.
Generally, this driving habit is not a safe one, and it can create behavior that puts you and others at risk while driving.
It is therefore a smart idea to learn more about the laws in your local area regarding the passing lane or left lane, and it is equally wise to pay attention to laws in other areas you travel to. This effort may keep you safe and may keep you from breaking laws unintentionally.