Ever head out on the highway and find yourself stuck behind a slow poke rusting away in the left lane? This is the passing zone, not the passing time zone! It’s annoying. It’s frustrating. And it’s illegal.

Yes, the sign says “Keep Right Except to Pass” – and it means it!  In BC, the summer of 2015 kicked off with a new set of rules, with fines and penalties for those hogging the left lane. The law bans left-lane driving, except when:

  • passing another vehicle
  • giving room to merging traffic
  • lining up for a left-hand turn
  • passing a stopped police car, ambulance, tow truck, maintenance, construction, or other type of official vehicle

If you’re popping down south for a little USA getaway, you should also know they don’t care much for the left-lane loafer. Nearly every state has some rule about requiring slower-moving traffic to stick to the right.

If you’re passing through the Peace Arch, be aware that Washington State has some of the strictest. In the Evergreen State, the left lane is for turning or passing only. And they’re cracking down hard, handing out hefty tickets on the spot to left-lane drivers not in a passing mood.

But why does this matter so much? Traffic flow and safety are the two big reasons. Research shows that a lot of traffic backups are caused by a few slow-moving vehicles. The faster cars catch up, can’t get around, and soon choke the highway. When the slower cars stick to the right, they can be easily passed on the left improving traffic flow.

And when driving is smooth and effortless, everyone is safer. Too many car crashes are caused by drivers constantly switching and weaving in and out of lanes to get away from slower cars. An easy pass on the left makes for happier, safer travels. And in BC and Washington, a few more bucks in your pocket from NOT getting ticketed.

For more information

  • Keep Right, Let Others Pass Law is Now Official on BC Highways, TranBC
  • Why you shouldn’t drive slowly in the left lane, Vox
  • Strange Canadian driving laws that surprised us the most, Globe & Mail

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Nicholas Tsoi
Nicholas Tsoi
Nicholas Tsoi joined Slater Vecchio in August 2011. Nicholas has represented clients in the Provincial and Supreme Courts of British Columbia and the British Columbia Court of Appeal.