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Is Driving in the Left Lane Legal?


You have seen the “Left Lane For Passing Only” signs, and you wonder about how long you can stay in the left lane. You also remember that the left lane was always the “fast” lane and the right was for slower traffic. What happened?

All states allow the use of the left side for passing, but after that, there may be different rules, or “keep-right laws”. A table put out by MIT shows these  laws for all states:

  • Most states use the law to make slower-moving traffic stay in the right lane.
  • Some states require drivers to move to the right if they are blocking traffic.
  • A few states permit using the left lane only for passing or turning left.
  • Other states have no law about the use of the left lane.

Left Lane Driving

In 2009, Louisiana became one of those states that allows the use of the left lane for passing only or for turning left. (R.S. 32:71)  Let’s be clear, then, about the use of the left lane. In a “multi-lane” highway, It is for passing only. The law also includes the above rules about the left lane. Slow-moving traffic, going under the speed limit, must stay in the right lane. Drivers cannot block other drivers from overtaking them and must move over. Drivers cannot drive slower than drivers in the right-hand lane.

Do drivers still use the left lane even though they are not passing? The answer is yes. Many people want to use the less crowded lane to be comfortable. It makes sense to them that the right lane is for slower traffic and the left lane is for going faster, while still going at the speed limit. They do not feel it is a crime to use the left lane, even though it is illegal in Louisiana.

Driving in the left lane, by itself, is not a major traffic safety concern, say traffic experts. Speeding and distracted driving are much more dangerous. However, the problem lies in drivers who are “cruising” in the fast lane. They slow everyone down so that the traffic flow is not smooth. Those drivers behind them, even good drivers, become frustrated and angry. Some drivers become very angry, and that is when road rage and accidents can happen.

Rolling Roadblocks

More states are taking steps to create “left-lane” laws to help keep crowded, multi-lane roads safe. Louisiana has added its Rolling Roadblocks law,  RS 32:73.1 , to its left lane laws. The driver who is “obstructing or impeding” traffic by driving too slowly in the left side lane could get a ticket. Arkansas, Texas, and Mississippi have also added laws to include fines. Texas can charge a fine of up to $200.

The problem with continuous driving on the left is becoming a serious one. Drivers who use the lane as they please add to the dangers on our highways. Risky driving habits, and,  perhaps, road rage, of those behind that driver will happen. The best advice is to be aware of the laws, follow them, and do your part to drive safely.

If you have been injured in a road accident, contact Louisiana car accident attorney Clay Burgess immediately. He will offer you a free consultation to discuss your claim and advise you of your rights. Car accidents can be more complicated than they seem at first, and you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you.

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