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Old 07-18-2004, 05:01 PM
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What's so wrong about passing on the right?

While driving on Interstate 95 from Northern Virginia to Southside, my passenger, who is from Germany, was horrified that I'd passed a slow vehicle on the right. He said that it was illegal in Germany and "most everywhere else". He went on to say that it was very dangerous. I never really gave it any further thought until now. So, why is it so dangerous to pass a vehicle on the right on a multi-lane highway? Are there any studies that show how many people are killed in the USA vs Germany as a result of passing vehicles on the right?

Eric
Old 07-18-2004, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
So, why is it so dangerous to pass a vehicle on the right on a multi-lane highway?
Well, vehicles that are going slower than the rest of the traffic are (supposed to be) in the right hand lane. Also it is the lane that people use to slow up before exiting and speed up when getting on the freeway. And it is illegal in most of north america as well. Texas has posted signs that say "Left Lane for Passing Only". Unfortunatly that doesn't stop people from cruising, and holding up traffic, in the left lane.
Old 07-18-2004, 05:10 PM
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was to a 4+ highway or did you pass on the shoulder?
Old 07-18-2004, 05:11 PM
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Your German friend should drive around L.A. a bit. In California it's legal for motorcycles to "split lanes" (i.e., ride between lanes of slow-moving traffic).

(Man, I miss that!)
Old 07-18-2004, 05:14 PM
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err I take my post back. I should learn to read a little more throughly
Old 07-18-2004, 05:14 PM
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People do not expect to be passed on the right.
Any situation that involves high speeds, hard, massive stationary objects, and the element of surprise is bad.
Old 07-18-2004, 05:20 PM
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Your friend is right. 99% of Americans don't understand how multi-lane divided highways work and that's a huge part of the traffic problem in a lot of areas.

The right lane is for travelling. The left lane is for passing. You do not travel in the left lane. It's as simple as that.

I blame poor driver's education for this, and being a person who thinks there are already way too many laws, this is one I would vote for in a heartbeat: more and more rigorous driver's ed. And you should probably have to do at least some kind of supplemental training every 5 or 10 years. It would save lives and alleviate traffic if people actually knew how to drive. I had my last driver's ed class when I was 14 and didn't get my license until nearly a year and a half later (my 16th birthday)!
Old 07-18-2004, 06:00 PM
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People go through red lights too. It's dangerous since you don't expect someone to go through the intersection when your light is green.

Passing on the right is, as mentioned, also unexpected. This makes it dangerous.
Old 07-18-2004, 06:18 PM
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On some highways (the New Jersey Turnpike comes to mind) signs are posted that say "Keep Right Except to Pass" or words to that effect. More such signs would do a lot to educate the public, but they don't seem to be very common. Any thoughts on why not?
Old 07-18-2004, 06:18 PM
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The problem isn't the guy passing, it's the slowpoke in the left lane. If you're passed by a car on your right and he's going the speed limit, YOU should get the ticket.
Old 07-18-2004, 06:31 PM
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I can understand the German's worry about this.

In the UK, until recently, it was seriously verboten to pass on the right (of course, in the UK that means 'the left', because we drive arseways to you). The advantanges are that you only have to pay serious attention to one side of the car while driving on a multi-lane highway, because you know that anything to your right (left) will be going slower than you. The middle and outer lanes are officially called the 'passing' lanes. The idea is that you drive in the 'slow' lane unless you have to overtake.

In practical terms, however, it doesn't work very well. People tend to hug the middle lane, because they don't want to get stuck in the slow lane, due to the density of traffic in the middle lane, due to... (repeat from the beginning of this sentence ad infinitum). You therefore get very slow vehicles in the slow lane, a huge clog of traffic in the middle lane, and people breaking the speed limit in the fast lane. As a consequence the cops in the UK have relaxed about it somewhat, and I've heard that if the centre lane traffic is going slower than the speed limit, it's now OK to pass on the 'inside'.

The rules are similar in Ireland, but they're never enforced. People therefore have less lane discipline here too, but as a consequence it works quite well - you can duck and dive in and out of traffic to get through.

Bear in mind, also, that a lot of the Autobahns have very liberal speed limits. To fuck with the lane discipline would invite 200kph cars to come up suddenly behind 100kph cars, with at least a bit of panicked braking, if not carnage.
Old 07-18-2004, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm
To fuck with the lane discipline would invite 200kph cars to come up suddenly behind 100kph cars, with at least a bit of panicked braking, if not carnage.

That's a problem here too. People in Phoenix are pretty much going to go 85 on the freeway no matter what the speed limit is. Even the cops do it. Hell, I've been passed by cops without their lights on while doing 85. When you come over a hill or around a curve and suddenly end up behind some wingnut doing 50 or 60 it can be quite a mess.
Old 07-18-2004, 08:44 PM
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Your friend is wrong. Passing on the right is permitted in most, if not all, states, if there are clearly defined lanes. For example, the Va. statute:
Quote:
46.2-841. When overtaking vehicle may pass on right.

A. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass to the right of another vehicle only:

1. When the overtaken vehicle is making or about to make a left turn, and its driver has given the required signal;

2. On a highway with unobstructed pavement, not occupied by parked vehicles, of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction;

3. On a one-way street or on any one-way roadway when the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.

B. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle on the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. Except where driving on paved shoulders is permitted by lawfully placed signs, no such movement shall be made by driving on the shoulder of the highway or off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway.
Old 07-18-2004, 08:50 PM
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I remember a few years ago CNN doing a story about an old driver who drove fifty-five mph in the left lane all the time. Since at the time this was the speed limit, he was not breaking the law, and he said he did it so he could avoid slow trucks. This is why you have to pass on the right in this country. People do it less since the speed limit was raised, but you still come across people from the anti-destination league driving below the speed limit in the left lane. If you never passed on the right you'd never get anywhere.
Old 07-18-2004, 09:04 PM
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To be honest, I don't think that the "people don't expect to be passed on the right" argument holds water.

If you're driving slow in the left lane, so that people are passing you on the right, then you're obviously not paying enough attention to what's going on in your own lane, so why would someone a whole lane over faze you? I've ridden with drivers like this. Head in the clouds, no idea what's going on around them, two feet off the bumper in front of them, going 70+. Someone passing on the right wouldn't even register.

And if, for whatever reason, you are aware of your surroundings, but are still going slow in the left lane, people passing on the right is so common, it's hardly any more scare-worthy than a merge or an interchange.
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Old 07-18-2004, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1dog
I remember a few years ago CNN doing a story about an old driver who drove fifty-five mph in the left lane all the time. Since at the time this was the speed limit, he was not breaking the law, and he said he did it so he could avoid slow trucks. This is why you have to pass on the right in this country. People do it less since the speed limit was raised, but you still come across people from the anti-destination league driving below the speed limit in the left lane. If you never passed on the right you'd never get anywhere.
Well, he was breaking the law, regardless of his speed, as the left lane is for passing only. Va statute:
Quote:
§ 46.2-842.1. Drivers to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highways.

It shall be unlawful to fail to give way to overtaking traffic when driving a motor vehicle to the left and abreast of another motor vehicle on a divided highway. On audible or light signal, the driver of the overtaken vehicle shall move to the right to allow the overtaking vehicle to pass as soon as the overtaken vehicle can safely do so. A violation of this section shall not be construed as negligence per se in any civil action.

(1989, c. 708, § 46.1-211.1.)
That statute requires a signal to the dumb cluck who is driving slower than traffic in the left lane, but in many cases there will be signs that say that the left lane is for passing only.
Old 07-18-2004, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy McClure SF
To be honest, I don't think that the "people don't expect to be passed on the right" argument holds water.

[.......]

And if, for whatever reason, you are aware of your surroundings, but are still going slow in the left lane, people passing on the right is so common , it's hardly any more scare-worthy than a merge or an interchange.

Actually, I think it's exactly where the issue lies. The OP friend is *german*. It is *not* common to be passed on the right over here (nor in Germany, nor in France). People really don't expect other drivers to do so. You can't just dismiss it as "not being aware of one's surrounding", because by the same reasonning you could think it's no big deal to ignore the red lights, either. After all, other drivers could be "aware of their surroundings" and assume there's a significant likehood that red lights will be ignored.


The friend of the OP is horrified plainly because most other drivers in his place of origin would be horrified (and most likely extremely pissed off) too by a behavior indeed unexpected, and as a consequence really dangerous in the place where he's coming from. Even if it's not actually as dangerous as he thinks, the simple fact that most drivers in this country won't feel the slightest bit acceptable to be passed on the right will result in him being horrified. It's partly based on the practice being actually dangerous, and partly based on his perception of what his a sensible way of driving.


I assume that if you were visiting a country where some road regulation you're accustomed to (like stoping at the red lights in my example) is ignored by a significant number of drivers, you'd be similarily horrified. And some local could tell you "no big deal. Just pay attention at the crossings".
Old 07-18-2004, 10:05 PM
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This is so strange.
In Australia, it's just common knowledge. It's just something you don't do. Mainly because it's unexpected, and it may be the law.
Old 07-18-2004, 11:17 PM
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I'm guessing that, in the U.S. at least, the feeling that passing on the right is prohibited dates from the days when there were few, if any, roads that had more than one lane for each direction of traffic, so passing on the right meant cutting over to the shoulder.

As barbitu8 noted, in our modern freeway environment, this is generally not illegal. Even if you're driving right at the speed limit, hindering traffic by driving in the left lane, below the speed of those trying to pass, is illegal. Some folks cannot grasp this.
Old 07-18-2004, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringo
Some folks cannot grasp this.
That link's evil. Click it and see.
Old 07-18-2004, 11:26 PM
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I don't know why that link's not working; here's the thread: Why no campaign in U.S. for slow drivers to stay to the right?
Old 07-18-2004, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1dog
...but you still come across people from the anti-destination league driving below the speed limit in the left lane.
I love this--great name for these people. I've got to add this term to my vocabulary.
Old 07-18-2004, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1dog
I remember a few years ago CNN doing a story about an old driver who drove fifty-five mph in the left lane all the time. Since at the time this was the speed limit, he was not breaking the law, and he said he did it so he could avoid slow trucks. This is why you have to pass on the right in this country.
The guy's name was Nestor, and the tactic became know in the DC area as Nestoring. He asserted (in letters to the editor and on radio shows, IIRC) that he had the right to travel at the speed limit in whatever lane he wanted, that people who wanted to pass him were trying to break the law, and he didn't have to help them do that. Most people around here thought he was a self-righteous prick.

Unfortunately, the had (and still has) a lot of company. I am ashamed on say that many of my fellow residents of the MD/DC/VA area are prone to this attitude, so much so that, as other posters have said, passing on the right is quite common and not very surprising. You can buy bumper stickers that say, "If I pass you on the right, you're in the wrong lane." But they don't seem to have much effect.

In my travels, I have been pleased to note that in other areas people are more prone to keep to the right.
Old 07-19-2004, 12:10 AM
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Legal nit-picker gets in trouble

As to the legality of passing on the right, I remember a driving test many moons ago.

The question was (as best I remember): You're on a 4-lane divided highway. You're in the right lane. There is a vehicle in the left lane ahead of you. May you pass it on the right? [It was accompanied by an illustration showing an unbroken road with the two vehicles.]

Being a well-informed young man, I knew there was a new state law making it illegal to travel in the left lane (or any lane other than the right lane) at less than the speed limit. Since it was also illegal to travel faster than the speed limit, I just made the simple assumption that the other vehicle was obeying the law (i.e., traveling at the speed limit, no faster [illegal] and no slower [also illegal in that lane]). The only logical conclusion was: you may not pass on the right in this situation because you would have to break the speed limit to do so.

The examiner was not impressed. He insisted the point was that it was not illegal to pass on the right per se, so my answer was wrong, wrong, wrong!

(I passed the test anyway...)
Old 07-19-2004, 01:04 AM
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No one's mentioned the point that, in a vehicle with the driver's side on the left, it's generally harder to see cars to your right. If you need to pull over for any reason (like, say, realizing you're holding up traffic for miles because you're just cruising along in the freakin' left lane), you might not see the person who's just starting to pass you on the right. Also, if you have an emergency and need to pull off, people passing you on the right could block you.
Old 07-19-2004, 04:10 AM
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Florida doesn't have a "no overtaking on the right" law, although most major motorways have signs to the effect that if you're slow you should get the hell outta the way.

It shows; if I want to get anywhere, I have to jink between lanes like some boy-racer trying to impress his skanky girlfriend with his Civic Highway Skills (TM) Package.
Old 07-19-2004, 06:55 AM
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It's probably just me, but can someone define exactly what is meant by "passing on the right"? I'm never sure if it means that the car in the right lane is traveling faster than the one in the left lane, but stays in the right lane, or if it includes something that happens to me fairly often- I'm driving along in a middle lane, at or even slightly above the speed limit, someone comes up on my right significantly above the speed limit and then moves into my lane.
Old 07-19-2004, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
Actually, I think it's exactly where the issue lies. The OP friend is *German*. It is *not* common to be passed on the right over here (nor in Germany, nor in France)
And AFAIK, the only place where I have driven and it's legal to pass on the left and the right is the Boulevard Périphérique which is a ring road around Paris.
Nothing worse that travelling on that road at 60mph+ and have people pass you at both sides at once
Old 07-19-2004, 08:28 AM
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To the OP:
I suspect that your companions discomfort stems from the difference between highway rules between the two countries. Since the US has a speed limit that is enforced (often with great zeal) traffic is not usually moving too much faster than the speed limit (or each other). On the autobahn where vehicles may travel as fast as they are able, there may be wide speed differences between cars. If a Porsche GT comes racing by in the right lane and a VW beetle changes lanes from the middle to make their exit, the expectation of a car not speeding by in that lane can cause serious consequences. This is one reason that it is ingrained in the German driving psyche. In the US, since traffic is (more or less) moving at the same rate, passing on the right (when it is safe to do so) does not pose as much risk.

[opinion]
I usually drive in the right hand lane. Other traffic may not be driving as fast as I am, but I am not weaving all over the road trying to get around people. I find that traffic entering the highway tends to immediately move over to the middle or fast lane anyway and the lane is often clear for me. If a slow vehicle is in the right lane, I will pass them by safely moving to the centre lane and back to the right lane after I have passed.

I recall a lesson from my driving class that the centre lane is not as safe as the outside lanes since there may not be a safe 'escape route' in case of an emergency (like the flying truck wheels of a couple of years ago).
[/opinion]
Old 07-19-2004, 08:43 AM
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Around the metro area where I live, most interstates are 6 lanes (3 lanes each way). The majority of drivers drive in the middle lane, avoiding the right lane so that they don't have to worry about cars merging in, and avoiding the left lane so that faster cars can overtake. This includes trucks, which theoretically have a 55 mph limit, but which in practice drive at much the same spped as the cars with a 65 mph limit. So, when the road gets moderately busy, and there are several cars passing on the left, it can often happen that the right lane is the one that easiest to pass in. (And I have frequently passed in the right hand lane).
Old 07-19-2004, 08:58 AM
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There are actually good reasons for cruising in the left lane. In California (where it's perfectly okay) I would occasionally use the 5 through downtown (but only if I had to). This is a major truck route, and the right lane is heavily rutted. Riding a motorcycle, especially, in that lane is dangerous for that reason.

Up here in Washignton, I think there is a law that prohibits using the left lane except when passing. For the most part beople stay to the right, except in metropolitan areas where there are too many cars not to use all available lanes. The 5 (or "I5", as the call it up here) is, of course, a major truck route. The right lane is not nearly as bad as the 5 south of downtown L.A., but it is a bit bumpy. I have no problem with it in the Jeep, but it's a little jarring on the motorcycle. So I cruise in the left lane when the right lane is too damaged by the heavy vehicles.

Now here's the important bit: I'm not a "Left Seat Zombie". I pay attention when I'm driving or riding. If I'm in the left lane and about to be overtaken, I'll move to the right to get out of the way (traffic permitting). As long as slower traffic moves right to allow faster traffic to pass, I see nothing wrong with keeping left.

As to passing on the right, it's usually the only option when faced with someone who has appointed himself Pace Car. People up here tend to drive 5 mph under the speed limit. (So do I, in the Jeep, to save fuel.) Lots of the stereotypical oldsters driving around. You pass on the right, or you follow the Pace Car. The most difficult thing for me is that I've got over 100,000 miles of L.A. motorcyle riding, and I've been sorely tempted to split lanes in some situations. One thing driving and riding up here has taught me (or is trying to teach me) is patience.
Old 07-19-2004, 09:58 AM
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Speaking as a cyclist, passing on the left is mandatory. In every ride I've participated, the event coordinators have always made it perfectly clear that passing on the right is cause for removal from the event.

Cyclists have very short reaction times and often must rely on a quick glimpse over the left shoulder to get the "all clear". Also, if you pass me (correctly) on the left, I will probably steer to the right a bit to give your some room. If some other cyclist has chosen that moment to pass me on the right, I will collide with them.

These rules seemed like such a good idea, I am surprised to learn that not all states require motor vehicles to do the same.
Old 07-19-2004, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doreen
It's probably just me, but can someone define exactly what is meant by "passing on the right"? I'm never sure if it means that the car in the right lane is traveling faster than the one in the left lane, but stays in the right lane, or if it includes something that happens to me fairly often- I'm driving along in a middle lane, at or even slightly above the speed limit, someone comes up on my right significantly above the speed limit and then moves into my lane.
Both of your examples are "passing on the right." The first example is caused by an idiot* in the left lane who shouldn't be there. The second example is caused by a maniac* in the far right lane who should be passing you on the left.

*Note: definitions paraphrased from George Carlin. "Idiot" is defined as anyone driving slower than me; "maniac" is defined as anyone driving faster than me.
Old 07-19-2004, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
The friend of the OP is horrified plainly because most other drivers in his place of origin would be horrified (and most likely extremely pissed off) too by a behavior indeed unexpected, and as a consequence really dangerous in the place where he's coming from.
I can only confirm that. Here it is the ultimate taboo of traffic behaviour. It is completely illegal and guarantees at least a fine or you might lose your licence. Although it is certainly not that dangerous when people are used to it, it might be deadly here because nobody expects it. Not to mention that you are in serious trouble if you are involved in any kind of accident this way.
Many other things like speeding are tolerated among drivers and people just try to avoid fines, but if you want to get beaten up at the next gas station, passing on the right is a good starting point.
Old 07-19-2004, 11:30 AM
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Yeah I drove up and down the Northway (NY) from Exit 7 to Exit 19 and back on Saturday. I drove about 70-75 (speed limit is 65) all the way.

I had many, many people wait for an opportunity to pass in the right lane even though the left lane was completely clear.

I don't mind people passing me on the right or left. But why are people afraid of the left lane? There'd be no one there for miles and yet Mr. Large SUV* would always wait until the right lane was clear before passing me on that side.

Wha?

(It was always the SUVs. The sporty ones would zoom by on whichever side they could. )
Old 07-19-2004, 12:01 PM
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For the people who maintain that passing on the right is always wrong, here's a situation that I frequently find myself in, so please tell me if you consider this dangerous/illegal/wrong:

On a freeway with three lanes each direction, I'll be in the right lane (I have an upcoming exit in the next mile or so), going 65 mph. In the center lane, just to my left, is a car moving at 60 mph. What should I do? Slow down so that I'm going no faster than he is? Move over two lanes to pass, then back across two lanes when it's time to exit?

What I will do is just maintain my speed of 65, and pass him. Are people here horrified by this?
Old 07-19-2004, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clairobscur
I assume that if you were visiting a country where some road regulation you're accustomed to (like stoping at the red lights in my example) is ignored by a significant number of drivers, you'd be similarily horrified. And some local could tell you "no big deal. Just pay attention at the crossings".
[neither here nor there]

Funny you should use this as an example. A Filipino friend once intimated to me that "red lights optional" was exactly the prevailing rule on Manila roads.

[/neither here nor there]
Old 07-19-2004, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtC
On a freeway with three lanes each direction, I'll be in the right lane (I have an upcoming exit in the next mile or so), going 65 mph. In the center lane, just to my left, is a car moving at 60 mph. What should I do? Slow down so that I'm going no faster than he is? Move over two lanes to pass, then back across two lanes when it's time to exit?

What I will do is just maintain my speed of 65, and pass him. Are people here horrified by this?
Absolutely agree with you. I've only driven interstates in the American Deep South (Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida), and passing on the right is common down here, too, for a variety of reasons.
Old 07-19-2004, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantara
To the OP:
I suspect that your companions discomfort stems from the difference between highway rules between the two countries. Since the US has a speed limit that is enforced (often with great zeal) traffic is not usually moving too much faster than the speed limit (or each other). On the autobahn where vehicles may travel as fast as they are able, there may be wide speed differences between cars. If a Porsche GT comes racing by in the right lane and a VW beetle changes lanes from the middle to make their exit, the expectation of a car not speeding by in that lane can cause serious consequences. This is one reason that it is ingrained in the German driving psyche. In the US, since traffic is (more or less) moving at the same rate, passing on the right (when it is safe to do so) does not pose as much risk.
Well, I disagree. About 50% of the autobahns in Germany do have a speed limit, and all of the regional highways do, yet the behavior is the same: drive right, pass left. Everywhere else in Europe they do have a speed limit and people still follow the rule. So I don't think it has anything to do with the vast differences in speed.

Passing on the right drives me nuts.




And, if you think the speed
Old 07-19-2004, 12:51 PM
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Here in the DC metro area, passing on the right is not only tolerated, but a genuine necessity due to the widespread use of left exits from the Beltway. You'll have a car that needs to exit some time soon, and chooses to only go 10-15 miles above the speed limit, so a car that wants to go 25 mph above the speed limit has no choice.

Anyway, I think it's so commonplace that people don't think twice about it, one way or the other.

Theoretically, I think POTR is illegal on the Maryland side of things but I'm sure it's not enforced.

And if you think left *exits* are bad, try left *entrances*, in which you have to merge from a ramp into traffic going 80 miles an hour. Great fun.

I'm always amused by the Virginia law that says "pull over if someone behind you wants to pass". I understand the reasoning (and in fact do my best to do so promptly) but here you are, moving over to facilitate someone else's wish to break the law. I usually take the attitude that I'm glad the person is getting farther away from me by the minute
Old 07-19-2004, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elenia28
I had many, many people wait for an opportunity to pass in the right lane even though the left lane was completely clear.

I don't mind people passing me on the right or left. But why are people afraid of the left lane? There'd be no one there for miles and yet Mr. Large SUV* would always wait until the right lane was clear before passing me on that side.

Wha?
These people may have been concerned about getting nabbed in a radar trap.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa
Here in the DC metro area...

I'm always amused by the Virginia law that says "pull over if someone behind you wants to pass". I understand the reasoning (and in fact do my best to do so promptly) but here you are, moving over to facilitate someone else's wish to break the law.
Hah! What did I tell you? Nothing personal, Mama Zappa, but I guess people inclined to moralize about other people's behavior are just drawn to the Nation's Capital.
Old 07-19-2004, 05:55 PM
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In one of the many states where I've taken the drivers test, the lanes in a freeway or expressway are considered as independent traffic lanes, and passing on the right is legal. (That's what passenger side mirrors are for - I always check if I'm moving right.) It has to be that way. Consider your typical rush hour traffic day. Different lanes move at different speeds, and making it so that every car in the middle lane happening to move faster (for the minute) than the cars in the left lane is committing a violation is absurd.

In the Bay Area, the number of left lane slowpokes seems to have decreased in the past seven years. Maybe they all got laid off and are no longer commuting. A lot of them seemed to be absolutely petrified of driving - they looked straight ahead with a glassy stare. They've been replaced by the cellphone drunks, though.

Not all states tolerate left lane slowpokes. One of the highlights of my life is seeing a state trooper pull one of these clowns over when I was living in New Jersey.
Old 07-19-2004, 07:55 PM
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OK, here in the Old USofA, that rule is mostly outmoded. It dates from the days of highways being one lane in each direction. So in order to pass, you had to do one or the other of "passing on the right shoulder" or "pass by going into the left oncoming traffic lane". Dudes were ingrained to "pass only on the left". Trucks woudl have "<passing side.. suicide>", etc. It's still a good idea on that sort of country highway.

On a modern multilane freeway, there is no such rule. Pass in any lane.
Old 07-19-2004, 09:08 PM
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Here in Washington, they've gone so far as to post signs on the left side of the highway (well, actually, on the divider) informing drivers that it is illegal to travel in the left lane. A friend of mine actually got pulled over and ticketed for driving in the left lane on the highway.
Old 07-19-2004, 09:31 PM
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Since this is GQ, I feel compelled to chime in with another factual answer that passing on the right is explicitly legal in California. From the CVC (full text here http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21754.htm):
Quote:
21754. The driver of a motor vehicle may overtake and pass to the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:

(b) Upon a highway within a business or residence district with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in the direction of travel.

(c) Upon any highway outside of a business or residence district with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width and clearly marked for two or more lines of moving traffic in the direction of travel.
There's a certain self-fulfillment on both sides of this: If passing on the right is prohibited and the majority of drivers honor that prohibition, then the claim that passing on the right is dangerous because it's unexpected is valid. But around here, where there is no prohibition and it happens all the time, the claim that it's dangerous just doesn't hold water, because it's not unexpected.
Old 07-19-2004, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa
Here in the DC metro area, passing on the right is not only tolerated, but [b] a genuine necessity [/b ] [.....] You'll have a car that needs to exit some time soon, and chooses to only go 10-15 miles above the speed limit, so a car that wants to go 25 mph above the speed limit has no choice .

Maybe I'm being wooshed, but may I point out that going 25 mph above the speed limit isn't a "genuine necesssity", and that the driver actually have the choice of respecting the law and *not* driving at this speed?
Old 07-20-2004, 12:08 AM
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Now, there is a bit of subtlety to this question here in the sticks (Indiana). Often on a state highway, there are two lanes and the person in front of you suddenly wants to turn left (why anyone would want to turn left, I do not know). Here in the Heartland, the cars behind just pass that car, on the right, hoping that there's a little bump-out of the road to drive on, or going onto the shoulder if not.

Now. When we country bumpkins go up to Michigan, we very quickly discover that it is illegal there to cross the white line that demarcates the right edge of the rightmost lane, even if you have a left-turning looney at full stop in front of you.

They think they're so fancy, up there.
Old 07-20-2004, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
Now. When we country bumpkins go up to Michigan, we very quickly discover that it is illegal there to cross the white line that demarcates the right edge of the rightmost lane, even if you have a left-turning looney at full stop in front of you.

They think they're so fancy, up there.
You're probably being facetious, like Mama Zappa, but if not, it is illegal in all states (most probably) to drive on the shoulder except in an emergency. SC law:
Quote:
SECTION 56-5-460. Roadway.

A "roadway" is that portion of a highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the shoulder or berm.
Hence, when you drive on the shoulder, you are not driving on the roadway which is illegal, except in an emergency.
Old 08-17-2004, 02:48 PM
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Code:
| | | |
| | | |
|A| |B|
|C| |D|
| | | |
| | | |
If people stayed to the right, you wouldn't have the problem on busy highways illustrated above. In the above scenario, if cars C and D both want to pass at the same time, you have a problem. This scenario plays itself out quite often in any decent sized city I've lived in. If D can safely assume that C will not pass on the right, you have no issues. Of course, if everyone followed the law, A and C would not be there in the first place to cause this problem.

I lived in Germany for 10 years, and felt much safer on the Autobahn at 100 mph than I do here at 55 on many highways. Slow traffic staying right, along with no passing on the right, were major contributors to that feeling of safety.

I get the impression that many drivers here feel somehow less worthy when being passed or want to force others to go a certain speed, and actually stay in someone's way on purpose. I never got that impression in Germany, even though they flash their lights at people to tell them they are closing in and want to pass. Perhaps not having a speed limit at all has something to do with this impression.
Old 08-17-2004, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua
Often on a state highway, there are two lanes and the person in front of you suddenly wants to turn left (why anyone would want to turn left, I do not know). .
even if you have a left-turning looney at full stop in front of you.
Looney?
I think you are calling the wrong person looney.
What if the person lives on the left side of the road!
Very common for people to turn left on a two lane road in all the states I have been in which is probably over half. People just come to a stop until the person makes the turn. Passing on the right on the shoulder is against the law and common sense.
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