Thursday, August 21, 2008

Left Lane is For Passing - Finally A Law

The other weekend I was having a discussion with another long time Virginia resident, when he pointed out that it is now illegal to camp out in the left lane. I had always thought that it was just rude, and wondered why we didn't have something like Germany where the laws are clear about slower traffic keeping right. A quick check of the VA Code, and sure enough, there it is: 46.2-842.1. It is unlawful to impede traffic when to the left and alongside another vehicle.

I had to point this out to my lovely wife, that I can now legally use "flash to pass", since the law actually spells out that this is the proper method "On audible or light signal, the driver of the overtaken vehicle shall move to the right."

Unlike Germany, where passing on the right is strictly prohibited on the Autobahn, VA still allows passing on the right if there is a clear right of way, and an unobstructed path ahead (46.2-841)

In Norfolk, it will cost you $92 if ticketed for this violation. In comments on some other blogs, it sounds like a few officers are starting to enforce this rule.

Logically, this makes sense on several levels. First and foremost, efficiency will increase if each lane is more consistent in speeds. Consistency in speeds improves throughput for the entire roadway. Blocked drivers often change lanes, disrupting the pattern of many lanes of traffic, rather than just cruising in the left lane. Finally, leaving a lane open to the left, will allow those who want to aggressively speed, to weed out the cops along the way for the rest of us to cruise on past.

This could possibly be one of the most useful laws that gets no publicity. Almost every German guidebook I've seen specifically points out the Autobahn rules on lane choice, making sure it's on everyone's mind. Even the PA Turnpike has signs up stating their laws on passing on the left.

1 comment:

Larry Gross said...

Unfortunately the folks who do this won't know about the law - and won't want to know.


p.s. good luck on your "quest"!

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