Driving is a pretty uniform practice across the United States, so most of us don’t think twice before hitting the road in a different state. However, many states have their own traffic laws that pose legal penalties and physical dangers if not obeyed.
Imagine you are on the interstate and you find yourself coasting along in the left lane. Soon, you hear a wail of sirens and realize that you’re getting pulled over. Do you have a busted taillight? Did you forget to signal? Have you neglected to renew your tags? Nope. You’re just driving in the left lane.
Though only a few states ban left-lane driving, knowing which states have done so before you travel can save you a lot of hassle and money.
In July 2016, Tennesse enforced a new “slow poke” law. Slow drivers who do not yield to drivers moving faster than them, regardless of the speed limit, will face a misdemeanor charge or $500 fine if caught.
Passing in the Left Lane
In many states, left lanes can only be used for passing on interstates, and this is only the case if the drivers are actually passing another car moving slower than them and not simply trying to get away from traffic altogether.
Left-lane cruisers, as they’re known, will no longer be able to hog the country’s busy motorways and interstates.
For most of us, this is cause for celebration. But if you happen to be one of the “slow pokes,” perhaps it’s time to work on driving the minimum posted speed limit or prepare to switch lanes a lot.
The Dangers of Left-Lane Drivers
In 2015, Vox, a digital media company and news site, posted a YouTube video about the controversy surrounding left-lane drivers from the perspective of one who was pulled over.
The video details the dangers behind hanging out in the left lane, mostly associated with the faster drivers who have to continually stop and accelerate in order to meet the traffic interruptions left-lane drivers create.
Driving just 5 mph slower than everyone else on the highway increases the risk of another driver causing an accident while attempting to pass you.
When left lanes are used only for passing, however, the risk of collision is decreased since drivers can pass multiple cars at once and quickly resume their place on the right-hand side.
This not only makes the motorway a safer place for everyone involved but also decreases the frequency of drops in speed and disrupted traffic flow.
“What if I’m driving the speed limit?”
Perhaps you’re offended at the implication all left-lane drivers are going 10–15 mph below everyone else. In many cases, in fact, a slow poke is often someone driving the speed limit.
Vox’s video states that studies have found driving the speed limit — when it causes other cars to switch lanes repeatedly — is actually more dangerous than speeding.
This is because “the strongest predictor of an accident is variance from the average speed of traffic” (Vox, 2015).
The Future of Left-Lane Laws
Although every state has some type of restriction regarding the left lane, these restrictions vary greatly.
In 29 states, any driver who is moving slower than the surrounding speed of traffic should always keep to the right lane while in 12 states, the left lane is to be used only for turning or passing.
What This Means
You should be aware of the driving laws in both your home state and any state to which you plan on traveling. Highways and interstates always pose a greater risk of collision to drivers, but you can ensure your safety by being a responsive driver and paying attention to surrounding traffic.
Also, make sure that you are fully covered by your auto insurance policy. In the event of a collision, having adequate coverage often makes the difference between speedy recoveries and financial ruin.
Make sure that you have the right amount of auto insurance. Compare rates from local companies today and make sure you’re always ensured no matter where you are!