Passing on Right - Poll

Here’s the scenario: It’s 1 o’clock in the morning with very light traffic. The speed limit is 70, you are in a hurry and are doing 85mph. It’s a long trip. You choose to stay in the left of two lanes so that you don’t have to worry about switching lanes every couple minutes to pass someone (because you are going faster than most on the road and passing mostly everyone with only an occasional motorist passing you). A car comes behind you going 90+ and has to briefly slow down to wait until you pass a car.

The question: Why do people get mad at you (and honk and curse and sometimes even pin you in on the next car ahead to be dicks) when they come up behind you going 90+ and you don’t switch into the right lane to let them pass on the left? When this happens to me, if the person doesn’t immediately merge or doesn’t put on their blinker, I immediately go ahead and pass on the right, no harm done. Why do others see this non-merging as disrespectful? Just go around me, there is a WIDE OPEN lane right there chief!

When you have to wait a second for someone to pass a car and then they don’t merge, do you honk/flash your brights and make it an issue, or do you do the sensible thing and simply take your steering wheel, turn it a few degrees to the right and gently press the gas and be on your merry way like me?

In most states, cruising in the left lane is breaking the law. So is speeding. People get pissed at people who break the law, even when they’re breaking the law themselves.

Remember, you’re cruising in the left lane because it’s too much trouble for you to change lanes every time you want to pass somebody. Why should they have to? You don’t own the road, pal.

And you didn’t see it coming up behind you in your rear-view mirror and plan in advance to not be blocking the left lane by the time it got there?

I’m with Fuel on this one. The throughput capacity of the road is maximized if both lanes are fully utilized. The illogical requirement to pass on the left causes needless swerving and forces cars to be closer together.

The driver in front cannot see backwards as well as the driver behind can see forwards. Thus, the driver in back should tip the wheel a few degrees to the right. The existing convention must be replaced with the more correct one.

I think that passing on the right is against the law, isn’t it? It makes everything go more smoothly. If you have people passing on the left and right on a three or more lane highway, it can be chaotic, especially when no one knows when or how the other person will pass. On a two lane highway, that rule also applies.

Also, the left lane is for the fastest traffic. If you aren’t the fastest, then get over.

When someone is in front of me, I don’t make a huge issue of it because you never know who you’re honking and flashing your lights at. I give them time to get over, then I get pissed. If it’s taking forever and they are truly ignorant, then I’ll pass on the right if it’s safe enough to do so–even though I hate doing that.

If you’re actually passing someone at the time, the person going 90+ can’t pass on the right, obviously. They shouldn’t be pissed about it though. After all, you are using the passing lane for the purpose of passing. (Yes, some people do get impatient - but they shouldn’t.)

Now if you guess that one or two minutes from now, you may need to pass someone, and therefore you decide to just hang out in the left lane… well, uh, I’d call that bad etiquette. It’s sort of dangerous to pass on the right. There might be some really slow traffic up ahead, farm or construction equipment (on some roads), cars around a curve, etc. If you really want to drive in the left lane, keep constant watch on your rear view mirror and get out of the way when someone is comping up fast. (And signal too, before he tries to move into the right lane. )

Then there’s the in-between case, where you’re passing cars more often that once a minute, but not continuously. Uh, use your best judgment. Finish passing someone if you’ve started. If not, yield the left lane to the speed demon.

Bottom line, the fastest moving traffic has the greatest claim to the left lane. Making faster traffic pass on the right is a bad idea. IMHO.

If traffic were truly light enough for you to go 85, staying on the right should not be a problem, since you wouldn’t have to pass very often. In your example, clearly someone coming up on a passing situation shouldn’t be angry, unless you are pacing the car on the right, in which case I could see a light flash after a decent interval as being appropriate.

In your situation, what happens if he decides to pass right at the same time as you decide to move right to let him pass? Just staying on the right seems much safer.

BTW, I don’t think passing on the right is illegal on most multi-lane controlled access roads. It is not in California. If it were, almost anyone in a traffic snarl, where the lanes move independently, would be breaking the law.

And what if the car in front decides just at that same moment to change lanes to let the car behind pass?

This is the reason that under-taking on the wrong side is illegal in many places. It means you can change back to the inside lane without having to worry about the maniac behind you trying to pass you on that side too. The car behind should also be expecting the front car to change lanes, so under-taking is doubly reckless.

Naturally those who hog the outside lane are just as bad as the under-takers. So it sounds like Fuel gets the reaction he justly deserves.

I thought it was fairly evident it was a hypothetical scenario. It was not an anecdote, thus it’s not fair to unjustly attack Fuel.

Grr, I was being retarded. My apologies Futile Gesture.

Because you, my friend, are the one being a dick. In North America, we drive in the right-hand lane and pass in the left-hand lane. We don’t cruise along in the left-hand lane and force people to pass us on the right. Do you know why we don’t pass on the right in North America? Because it’s freakin’ dangerous, that’s why. How do you know when you’re passing someone on the right that they didn’t just that minute notice you in their rear-view and are pulling over to the right to let you go by just as you try to pass? You don’t, that’s how. Our convention of drive on the right, pass on the left so that everyone should be able to predict, with some reliability, what someone else is going to do.

Illegal or not, I will pass a car on the right every time they fail to move out of the left lane. If someone is too oblivious to have seen me overtake them and come up on their back bumper, they are too dangerous for me to sit behind them.

This doesn’t mean I weave in and out of traffic. What I’m refering to is someone cruising in the left lane with no other cars nearby. When I come up behind them and they do not move to the right to let me pass, I will pass them on the right. Why should I sit behind someone when there is a perfectly good lane not being used?

My grandfather used to drive like Mr. Magoo on crack. Here’s the little poem he would tell me as he tore up the right lane of the Schuylkill Expressway at 90 mph:

Pass on the left be a leader,
Pass on the right, see St. Peter.

The nightmares are in the past now. Mostly. :eek:

If he was anything like my grandfather, he probably also used to slap himself in the face while driving to keep awake (very reassuring).:eek:

And while we’re at it, let me mention that he’d also ride with the top down on his Caddy convertible and blast the heat if it were cold or the a/c if it were hot.:cool:

Not to mention the inappropriate things he’d say, usually within earshot of pedestrians.

While i agree that this is how it should be, i can’t agree with you in terms of actual practice.

I lived in Canada for two years, and i’ve now lived for three years in the United States. Just about every time i’ve driven on a multi-lane divided road in North America, most of the slow drivers are dawdling away in the middle lane (if there are three lanes) while the faster drivers pass on the left and the right. If it’s two lanes only, then there seems to be no rhyme or reason whatsoever, especially in the Washington DC area.

If i’m driving slowly, i stick in the right-hand lane, and i still get some fast drivers coming up close behind and trying to intimidate me into moving out of the way. Fuck them! If i’m in the right-hand lane, they should go around.

When i overtake, i do so on the left and i move back into the right lane as soon as it’s safe to do so. I developed this habit when living in England (although obviously on the other side of the road :)). North Americans could take a few lessons from Europeans and Brits when it comes to driving on freeways.

And to the OP: just because it’s late at night does not mean the road rules have been suspended. I don’t have too much trouble with people going a bit over the speed limit, but it is incumbent upon those people to pay even closer heed to other rules (i.e. which lane to be in) so that their extra speed does not pose a disproportionate danger to other drivers. It just seems to me that if we all used the lanes like they are supposed to be used, there would be far less aggravation and far fewer accidents.

Actually, the convention is wrong. In the event that the motorist ahead wishes to change lanes at the same time as when the motorist behind is about to pass, the motorist ahead will use the blinkers to correctly signal a lane change. The motorist behind will have a few seconds notification to plan accordingly, thus the danger is minimized.

<SARCASM ON> You mean some people actually use their blinkers in America whilst driving, for the correct purpose! Must have been foreigners. <SARCASM OFF>

Seriously, the pass on right scenarios are all very good when the left hand lane floater is an aware driver, unfortunately they are sitting needlessly in the left hand lane because they are not aware of the trafic conditions they are driving in.

mhendo, I’ve encountered the same phenomenon in some parts of the country.

I don’t know how long you’ve been driving in total, and where other than Maryland you’ve driven, but my experience is that it is for some reason more prevalent in the southeastern U.S. Not that it doesn’t occur everywhere, it just seems to be almost the standard practice in certain states (which are admirable in many other regards) to drive left, pass right. I don’t understand it.

Well, here is my thinking behind the scene: 85 mph is fast and is easily breaking the law. However, that is still a reasonable speed to drive, albeit at the extreme edge of “reasonable”. Any faster and my midset goes like this: “Buddy, if you are going to blatantly disobey the speed limit so much as to pass me when I am excessively breaking the speed limit, we are both outlaws and I nor you have any kind of duty to follow any kind of laws that make me have to go out of my way to make you more comfortable. You have lost my respect as a fellow motorist and you are on your own, deal with it and go around me.”

I occasionally drive 90-95 in a 70 and I don’t expect any courtesy from anyone else when I am doing something that blatantly excessive.

As far as what the law says, it’s not a very functional law so I don’t feel compelled to follow it in this certain situation.

Basically, at 85 I feel I am going just slow enough to rightly disrespect anyone going faster than me and just fast enough to forget trying to keep getting into the right lane after every single car, IMO. If I am pacing the car next to me for too long (let’s say a full minute), oh well, at least I am keeping the maniac behind me from going 90+ for a minute… I might save a life or two by doing that!

I’ve had my licence for about 17 years, and have driven for:

2 years in Canada
2 years in England
3 years in the U.S.
A few occasions in Europe
The rest of the time in Australia.

Australians are no better than North Americans, in my experience. It is common for people to drive in the middle lane, and overtake on either side.

In North America, i’ve driven on the corridor between New York and Washington D.C. quite a bit. Also, having lived in Vancouver for a couple of years, i’ve done a bit of driving on I-5, through Washington and Oregon and down as far as northern California.

A couple of years ago i drove with a friend from Baltimore down through Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas, to Austin, Texas. We both noticed that once we got into western Tennessee, and even more so in Arkansas, that people tended to drive on the right unless overtaking. It made the whole driving experience much more pleasant.