No announcement yet.

Passing in left lane is a law-granted right

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Passing in left lane is a law-granted right

    Aug. 9, 2004, 10:36AM

    MOVE IT!
    Passing in left lane is a law-granted right

    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    Two weeks ago I wrote that my traffic pet peeve is slow drivers using the left lane of a freeway and refusing to move over to let others pass.

    This comment generated a flurry of e-mails and phone calls, with about a third of respondents agreeing that police should focus on ticketing these lane hogs who disrupt the normal flow of traffic, not speeders. The majority was critical, however, contending I was encouraging dangerous driving.

    David Woerner of Houston called me "arrogant" for asking slower motorists to clear my path.

    "If I am in the left lane and going 5 or 10 mph over the limit already, what right do you have to demand the lane?" he asked. "You have no more right to get there faster than me, as long as I drive the speed limit."

    Several inquired about what the law says in this area.

    My right to pass you in the left lane, even if I'm exceeding the posted limit, comes from ยง 545.051 of the Texas Transportation Code. The law requires that all drivers "moving more slowly than the normal speed of other vehicles at the time and place under the existing conditions shall drive in the right-hand lane."

    So if you're doing the speed limit in the left lane and a line of cars is behind you waiting to pass, you are not only being rude, you are breaking the law.

    Remember the saying: "Two wrongs don't make a right?" It's not your job to enforce the speed limits, which are kept below the normal speed of traffic because of poorly conceived environmental rules and the government's greedy desire to collect revenue from fines. Also, freeways are designed for very fast speeds; the design speed is usually higher than the legal limit.

    Someone trying to obstruct traffic is creating a greater danger than a driver going faster than the artificially set limit.

    "Thank you for finally pointing out the dangerous situation created by left-hand hogs, and the resulting impact on freeway capacity and mobility," wrote Andy Slavin of The Woodlands. "This has truly become an epidemic situation in the city."

    I endorse a libertarian approach to traffic enforcement: If you haven't hit something, what have you done wrong?

    Handing someone an expensive citation for nothing more than driving the freeway's design speed represents government money-grabbing at its worst and has nothing to do with promoting safety.

    Robert Flanary of Houston endorses my call for higher speed limits on freeways or the elimination thereof, such as on Germany's Autobahn system.

    "Lowering the freeway speeds in some Texas cities a few years back is not what's going to help reduce pollution," he wrote, "since bottled-up traffic causes more smog than the people doing 70-plus."

    Although some respondents spoke out in favor of issuing more tickets to those of us who decline to obey speed limits, they declined to obey the "slower traffic keep right" law.

    "If I'm proceeding down the left-hand lane at the speed limit or maybe slightly over, I shouldn't be a problem except to those who refuse to obey the speed limits, " wrote James Exum of Houston.

    Folks, let's show some courtesy out there. If a right-hand lane is free, I always drive in it. The left lane is for passing only, unless the freeway is gridlocked. Go the speed you are comfortable with and allow others moving faster to safely go by.

    You may also fax thoughts to 713-354-3061 or mail them to Lucas Wall, Houston Chronicle, 801 Texas Ave., Houston, TX 77002.

    Source: Houston Chronicle
    "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
    Rick's header, Hondata gasket, Mugen thermostat/fan switch, Mugen radiator cap, Aussie mirror, Lucid's rear speakers, Alpine CDA-7893R & KCE-865B, Muz's saddlebag, Windscreen Light, Modifry's glove box organizer and lots of Zaino!

  • #2
    Yep. That is right on. The left lane has always been designated as a passing lane. I can't believe how many times I see boneheads in far slower cars and Mack TRUCKS taking up this lane. Makes me , so what I do is go around them and then as I move back into the passing lane, I'll shave it pretty close to them indicating that an unhappy driver just passed them (me).

    One other weird thing that doesn't really get me mad, but it makes me uncomfortable. Say, I'm tooling down a boulevard. I have two lanes going my direction and ahead of me there is a car exiting a parking lot, for example. I'm in the inside lane and the car ahead starts to pull out and will be in mid-turn, approx., as I pass him on the left. What I can't stand about this is that it's hard to make eye-to-eye contact with them so I'm never sure that they really do see me. So I generally slow down and if I can, I'll go wide around them just to make sure. Irritating, to say the least...

    But the weird part of this driving habit is that it NEVER happened to me in Chicago. In Austin? It happens ALL THE TIME. Not sure why that is, but I sure wish it would change...!

    And just like the article alludes...driving laws are not really designed with safety in mind. They are designed to separate you from your money. That's why cops are sometimes referred to 'uniformed road tax collectors.' Safety takes a back seat when the almight dollar bill comes into play...
    "Live for yourself -- there's no one else more worth living for."
    --Rush, 'Anthem' on Fly by Night - 1975


    • #3
      Be glad you're not here. We have lots of really senior citizens (I mean really senior) and they always drive slow in the left lane. I think it's because the can aim better at the left edge and don't have to brake as often. the wraparound cataract sunglasses don't help much either.

      I belong to the middle lane school of defensive and sometimes offensive driving.



      • #4
        Robert Flanary of Houston endorses my call for higher speed limits on freeways or the elimination thereof, such as on Germany's Autobahn system.
        (Ulrich, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here)

        The Autobahn isn't entirely limit-free, though the overall system seems much more attached to reality as far as speed limits go, and the lanes are not all the same speed limit in areas where limits are applied. There is also a dynamic speed limit in some areas (slower during peak traffic hours, higher/none during light traffic times). Great system, but it would be prohibitive given our speeding-tax mentality and enormous interstate system.

        S2KCA - The S2000 Club of America


        • #5
          The Autobahn itself does not have a speed limit (one should note that there is not "a Autobahn", but that the term refers to a road network), only a government recommended speed of 130 km/h or 83 mph. In order to qualify for Autobahn status, a road has to fulfill certain minimum criteria in terms of lane width, number of lanes, availability/width of a shoulder, a divider in the middle, etc.

          Now having said that, you may very well have a speed limit on an Autobahn. Of cousre there is the obvious slow-down in work zones, but especially in crowded parts of the country, where the Autobahn will pass through inhabitated areas, you will most likely encounter a speed limit to reduce the noise. Other sped limits might apply when the road is wet, but not if the road is dry.

          There are also electronic signs that may vary a speed limit (if there is one) depending on traffic conditions -- the A1/A27 exchange by Bremen comes to mind. Depending on traffic, weather conditions or whatever comes to their minds, there may be a speed limit in place or not. That speed limit may also vary, so that some times you are capped at 100 km/h and others at 120 km/h.

          You did not hear it from me, but ultimately the reputation of the Autobahn as being free of any speed limit is really just a big marketing ploy for the German automobile industry. In reality, there are tons of work zones, traffic jams or noise protection areas that negate the old "free speed for free people" slogan...

          Having said that, I do recommend a vacation in Northern Germany, if you have a decent car at your disposal. The A29 north of Oldenburg towards the North Sea coast is a lot of fun to drive. No traffic, no people, no speed limit.

          And only a day away from Amsterdam.
          "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
          Rick's header, Hondata gasket, Mugen thermostat/fan switch, Mugen radiator cap, Aussie mirror, Lucid's rear speakers, Alpine CDA-7893R & KCE-865B, Muz's saddlebag, Windscreen Light, Modifry's glove box organizer and lots of Zaino!