The left lane can get tricky when you’re on the highway or interstate. In some states, like Florida, there are truck lane restrictions. On certain stretches of roadway throughout the state, big trucks aren’t allowed to drive in the left lane.
If a truck driver violates lane restrictions, they might face traffic charges and fines. The Florida DMV also applies three points against their license for every violation.
So beyond trucks being restricted from the left lane in some cases, what else should drivers know about the left lane?
The following are six key things to be aware of if you’re driving.
1. Five States Require You to Move to the Right
There are five states in America where left-lane driving is prohibited if you’re driving under the speed limit.
In addition, there are four states that require you to stay right, with a few exceptions. In six states, you’re required to move to the right if you’re blocking traffic, and in eight states, left-lane travel is prohibited with the exception of turning and passing.
In 27 states, it’s required that you stay right if you’re driving slower than the cars that are around you.
The eight states where it’s illegal to drive in the left lane except for turning and passing include:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
In 2016, Tennessee introduced what’s dubbed a slowpoke law for the proper use of the passing lane. If you’re a slow driver and you aren’t yielding to drivers who are going faster than you, regardless of the speed limit, you might get a misdemeanor charge or a $500 fine.
2. Driving in the Left Lane Can Be Dangerous
If you’re driving in the left lane, it can be dangerous, especially if you’re going below the speed limit or if you’re going slower than the flow of traffic. A driver going at a higher speed than a slow driver has to maneuver when they encounter a vehicle that’s moving more slowly in the left lane. The maneuvering can lead to accidents.
Slow traffic should always stay in the right lane.
3. The Rules Are Similar on a Three-Lane Highway
If you’re on a highway with three lanes, you should expect the rules are generally the same as if you were on a two-lane highway. Slower drivers should aim to be in the lane that’s as far to the right as they can get so they aren’t slowing traffic down and creating a risk of accidents by being in either the middle or left lane.
4. Avoiding the Left Lane is Less Stressful
If you’re trying to move around cars as quickly as you can and going back and forth from the left lane, it’s stressful. It’s better, especially if you’re in a hurry, to stay at a consistent speed, driving to the left only if you need to.
If you’re weaving in and out of traffic and cutting people off, that’s also going to not only raise your own stress levels but also create road rage in other people.
As a side note, even if you decide to stay to the right mostly, make sure that you aren’t zoning out. You still have to be a proactive driver and make sure that you’re aware of merging vehicles and making room for them.
5. What If You’re Going the Speed Limit?
A slowpoke isn’t just someone who’s driving below the speed. In reality, studies show that driving at the speed limit when it causes other cars to have to switch lanes repeatedly can be more dangerous than speeding. That’s why officers sometimes give tickets to so-called slowpoke drivers, even if they’re going the speed limit.
6. The Risks of Driving in the Left Lane
We’ve briefly touched on these, but there are some major risks that can come with left-lane driving.
If you’re going just five miles slower than everyone else on the highway, it increases the risk of another driver causing an accident when they try to pass you.
When you stay to the right, faster drivers have an easy way to get around. Traffic is going to flow, and do so more consistently when you’re staying to the right, so the experience of being on the roadway is safer for everyone.
Keeping out of the left lane unless you need to be there is safer, it’s going to make driving a more pleasant experience for everyone, and it shows courtesy to other drivers.