traffic tuesday #10 – passing lane

I’m amazed at how people don’t seem to understand the following paragraph from the Illinois Rules of the Road (scroll down to “Slow-Moving Vehicles: Lane Usage”).

Slower traffic must drive in the right-hand lane. The left lane is for passing and turning.

In other words, get out of the left lane unless you’re passing. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting behind two people who insist on driving just under the speed limit on the highway and they take up both lanes. Or when someone is in the left lane when it’s obvious they’re not trying to pass anyone.

I drive all across the state on trips with our students. Sometimes I’ll have older students near the front of the bus. On several occasions, I’ve passed a semi or other slower-moving vehicle by switching to the left lane. After I pass, I get back into the right lane, even though there’s another slower vehicle up the road from us. These Drivers Ed. students wonder why I don’t just stay in the left lane. That’s when I explain to them about the difference between the passing lane and the non-passing lane. I tell them that after I passed the first semi, I was no longer passing because the next car was half a mile down the road and therefore I moved to the right lane. When I need to pass again, I’ll move over into…wait for it…the passing lane.

In order to simplify this apparently complex rule here’s a guide you can use to figure out what lane you’re supposed to be in.

I should NOT use the Passing Lane (the left lane) because:

  1. I’m driving fast
  2. I’m not paying attention
  3. There’s a left lane?
  4. I’m carpooling with people
  5. I have a dog in the car and its head is out the window
  6. I’m left handed
  7. I’m racing the car next to me

I should use the Passing Lane (left lane) because:

  1. I’m passing
  2. Refer to #1
  3. No, really, there’s no other reason.

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Author: erik

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