Keep Right Except to Pass Law Changes Coming?
The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure has announced changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to make it easier for police to prosecute slow drivers using the fast lane on B.C.'s highways. The promised changes will occur later this spring according to Todd Stone, but there does not appear to be any indication of this in current first reading bills. Perhaps the first question that needs to be asked is whether or not this is really a significant cause of collisions and deserving of increased enforcement.
One opinion on this that was explained to me in no uncertain terms came from a judicial justice of the peace in traffic court. She said that if I were ever to bring a ticket for slower traffic failing to keep right where that slower traffic was moving at the speed limit into her court there would never be a conviction. Yes, I know that the current law does not support that stance, but I also understand and share the philosophy behind it.
I'm the (semi) older guy in the slow lane doing the speed limit. I often feel like a rock in the stream as everyone pours around me in the fast lane. I also see the fastest drivers attempting to bulldoze the faster drivers out of the way by following at less than a vehicle length behind waiting for the driver to either move over or an opportunity to pass on the right to present itself. I was always happy to ticket the tailgater over the left lane blocker as they were clearly the greater danger to my way of thinking.
Yes, on two lane roads there are occasionally slower drivers that are quite happy to lead a parade rather than let everyone by. However, if I applied the same tolerance under the speed limit as I did for those over it and kept watch on the cautionary signs at the roadside, I rarely found a driver outside the lower limit and constantly found drivers over it. New drivers and some older drivers need to be slower to be safe sometimes. We can expect the able to slow down, but we cannot expect the others to speed up.
Is using police enforcement to clear the fast lane to permit drivers to more easily break the speed laws a good use of resources? I may be wrong, but this is what I am feeling is the left lane driver's anticipation from the tone of current media coverage. When the proposed changes do appear, I hope that they are applied wisely.
Submitted by E-mail
" the first question that needs to be asked is whether or not this is really a significant cause of collisions and deserving of increased enforcement. "
Let's find out first, then make a good decision. Get some facts rather than legislate on opinions.
Having said that: My thoughts, from 50 years of driving are that :
1) Drivers will exceed the speed limit.
(I have been passed on the right in the Cilaire school zone driving at 30 K in my Driving School car, by a cruiser going significantly over, - no lights or siren).
2) If The "slow " driver is causing a bottleneck in both lanes, this will probably increase the eventual likelihood of a crash,
from tailgating, one vehicle passing (or trying to) several cars at a time, changing lanes suddenly (while another driver does the same) without proper signaling,
as drivers become more and more frustrated.
I think that a free flowing lane of traffic, with proper spacing, is significantly safer than a double lane of bumper to bumper cars driving at the posted speed,
or occasionally less, depending on the "leader".
Submitted by E-mail
I understand the nuances you're getting at in the article and the difficulty of creating enforceable and useful legislation, but one of the most telling indicators of the issue is the massive support of this legislation. A CBC poll has support at 81%. I would not have been surprised to find support in the ~40% range given the "speed kills" message we've all heard for years, but 81% is a huge number.
This story has been picked up nationally: B.C.'s left-lane hogs to face tougher rules, transportation minister promises
Ultimately though, the issue goes back to the flow of traffic - not the posted speed limit. If the majority of traffic is moving at a given speed, one who is below that speed shouldn't be in the left lane.
I heard a doctor on the radio who regularly transports patients code-3 between hospitals in the Fraser Valley and he had numerous issues of left-lane-blockers refusing to move. Encouraging drivers to enforce the speed limit surely contributes to this sort of behaviour and adds to the potential for road rage.
I know that you don't want to or can't condone speeding, but the fact is many roads have the majority of traffic technically speeding but we know most people either aren't aware of it or won't admit it. I came across some data for Hwy 1 near Cowichan: ONLY 4% of traffic was below the speed limit. The median speed was 16 km/h ABOVE posted (106 vs. 90) and the biggest group of drivers was going 110-120. Anyone in the left lane at the speed limit is going to be an issue. Whether they are responsible or not is of little consolation to an innocent person injured or killed as a result of an incident caused by another's mistake or irrational behaviour.
Just as good drivers always signal their intention to turn, I think good drivers should obey the keep right rule. Make it a habit, I certainly do. When it comes to speeding: driving is a privilege. The attitude of drivers who maintain the left lane despite all the traffic backing up behind them is that driving is a right. This surely does not add up.
People who park themselves in one lane are all-to-often not actively driving. They don't need to be aware of their surroundings, they don't need to know what is going on except in the lane in front of them: 30 degrees of vision, not 360 degrees. These types of drivers are not good drivers and they shouldn't be told they are doing the right thing. This is why they are blocking ambulances going code-3.
I am not at all surprised by the response to the CBC poll, but I'm not convinced that it isn't self serving. I stand by my opinion that in most cases this is not an issue except on single lane highways and even then is not common. I'm willing to be convinced though if someone can come up with some verifiable studies and statistics showing how much danger it actually is.
Your code 3 ambulance run example is a different matter entirely. These drivers are refusing to yield the lane when there is a justifiable need to exceed the speed limit and gain the right of way for matters of life and limb rather than driver convenience. Like the fire department in Kelowna, emergency vehicles should be equipped with dash cameras and drivers failing to yield should be prosecuted and receive significant penalties.
Keep right except to pass.
Let me say it again,Keep right except to pass.This where the problem begins.Focus on lane position and not speed,be it under,equal or over, the posted limit.The idea is simple and is designed to keep traffic flowing.It also helps eliminate two dangerous behaviors which are created by left lane user's not passing.One is there is no need to pass on the right,the other is driving beside another vehicle,when you could follow or be infront of them.What is accomplished by traveling at the same speed as the vehicle next to you,other than creating the 2 situations I just mentioned?The only answer is, it allows you to impose your will upon the drivers behind you, and creating a build up of traffic, not only behind but beside the cars travelling in the proper lane.If there is a problem,there is no where to go because everyone seems determimed to drive beside someone,rather than follow, or pass and lead.It scares me that you as a Law enforcement officer,and also a judge would, if given the opportunity,would choose to ignore the actual proven theory of keep right except to pass,in favour of indignent driving behavior.I am sure you will disagree,but answer this.Name one benifit of driving in the left lane at the same speed as the vehicles in the lanes to the right.What does it accomplish?
And please don't say it keeps people from speeding,it doesn"t.
Keeping right except to pass
I keep right except to pass, but it causes me lots of problems. When I want to make a left turn I am often not able to move into the left lane because the real road hogs, the ones who think they should be allowed to drive at excessive speeds, won't yield to allow me in. So I am forced to get into the left lane as soon as possible, and stay there so I can make the left at the next intersection. As responsible drivers who don't exceed the speed limit I do not agree that we should be intimidated into moving over so that some jerk who doesn't want to obey the speed limit can have the highway all to himself. With the exception of moving over for emergency vehicles, any person driving at the speed limit is not impeding any other law-abiding driver, only those who have no respect for the law.
I doubt that this can be enforced effectively:
For one, the potential LEO would be stuck in the left lane thinking it's just a bunch of traffic - like it often happens, when all lanes are moving the same speed.
And two, trully this "ideology" isn't supposed to encourage speeding - but since speedlimits are exceeded on a regular occasion by the majority of drivers - every lane is the fast lane.
I really don't think that this can be effective or prudent, unless passing on the right on the freeway is strictly disallowed and enforced, and only once the speedlimits are set to the 85th percentile or abolished.
Reporting in from Pirelli World Challenge, Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas.
P.S. to the poster with difficulties switching lanes, FFS, giverr man, just locate your accelerator and use it - I almost never have any difficulties switching to where I need to go either early, midways, or really late - signal on, pedal to the carpet and take that position (or miss the exit - which doesn't happen often - but it's safer to go the extra mile than to act'a'fool on a freeway)
Lets complicate a simple situation
I wont get sucked into all these minor details,because it will serve no purpose.The main point of this proposed legislation is to target highway travel,not suburban roadways with traffic lights and left turns.It seems most of these comments originate from Vancouver Island,but for a moment try and consider other highways in BC. Maybe between Vancouver and Kamloops.There are no lights or left turns to include, in an a weak attempt to dismiss a simple concept of improving traffic flow.The truth is,the concept has all ready proven itself to work,the legislation is merely a way of getting some long overdue enforcement.People get so offended by the speed issue,and really believe they are making a better decision by impeading others.Remember,speeding is technically 2km over the limit.Let the police figure out the speed issues,that isn't what this is about.
Prevailing attitudes to speed limits are a mystery to me!
Some of the responses to this topic and other postings on this website and my own experience of driving on BC highways leave me baffled by what seems to be the majority of drivers attitude that if one is not driving in excess of the speed limit then one is impeding the flow of traffic.
Whenever I see speed limit signs, they read MAXIMUM 110 kph for example. Experience, common sense and simple logic tell me that no matter what I choose as my target speed, there will always be some variation in the actual speed of my vehicle. To me a posted MAXIMUM of say 110 kph means that I should NEVER exceed that speed. Hence experience, common sense and simple logic tell me that I should chose a target speed which is less than the posted MAXIMUM to ensure that I do not break the law by exceeding the maximum.
If I try to drive at exactly the speed limit and not break the law by exceeding it, then I will have to focus so much of my attention on my speedometer that I will, in effect, be guilty of distracted driving.
Also, of course, the posted MAXIMUM is the legal limit under ideal conditions. There are many ways in which the conditions can be less than ideal.
Yet, from what I see on the roads and from what I read in many drivers' forum postings, the majority of drivers feel they have a moral right to exceed the speed limit by an amount they unilaterally decide is reasonable and any one who chooses to obey the law is in the wrong.
Attitude is everything!
Well, the fact is that on some highways, blindly following the speed limit while needlessly occupying the left lane is in fact impeding traffic. It's not that the majority of drivers feel that they have to exceed the speed limit all of the time in every situation in order not to impede. But it's a simple fact that sometimes, the speed limits that have been set are a mistake; if this wasn't the case, then the recent increases to the limits on some of BC Highways would not have been made. The fact that speed limits on our most excellent highways have in fact been recently increased is a clear indication that for many years, the Traffic Engineers had got it wrong - and that many of the drivers who had been exceeding those speed limits had actually been interpreting the conditions correctly.
But nobody in their right mind expects a driver who is in the right/slow lane on a clear highway, driving at or near the speed limit, to speed up; those drivers are not impeding anybody, for the simple reason that there's a lane to their left available for the ones who wish to travel faster (whether or not this be legal).
Experience, common sense, and simple logic tell me that:
As for moral rights, nobody has the right to needlessly endanger other road users - and that includes causing other drivers to bunch up behind them, or execute multiple lane changes to get past them, just because they feel like blocking traffic by travelling at the posted limit.
"But it's a simple fact that sometimes, the speed limits that have been set are a mistake; if this wasn't the case, then the recent increases to the limits on some of BC Highways would not have been made."
Unless, of course, setting them higher was the mistake....
Still mystified ...
Thanks for your explanation CompetentDrivingBC.
I would agree that "Keep Right Except to Pass" means exactly that no matter what your speed.
But I'm struggling to understand your reasoning with "As for moral rights, nobody has the right to needlessly endanger other road users ..... just because they feel like blocking traffic by travelling at the posted limit." If one is travelling at the speed limit and in compliance with all other laws, how can one be blamed for the illegal behaviour of others? Surely the bunching up in the scenario that you describe is a result of drivers trying to break the law by driving faster than the legal maximum. There is a remedy for bunching up; don't follow so close. Please forgive me if I am wrong, but you seem to be saying the bunching and speeding drivers are in the right and blaming the law-abiding drivers for the bad and illegal driving of others?
"But it's a simple fact that sometimes, the speed limits that have been set are a mistake". Unless you say all speed limits should be decided by the 85 percentile then someone has to decide a speed limit. But then, who has the right over everyone else to make the decision that the 85 percentile is the correct method? There are no absolutes. No matter what the speed limit there will always be some who think it is too high and some who think it is too low. If you don't agree with a law, then use the democratic process to try to change it. Don't just disobey the law. As long as we get to where we are going safely in a reasonable time, what's the rush? It is not so long ago that it was thought that the human body could not withstand travelling faster than a galloping horse. Now it is considered a tragedy if our journey takes a few minutes longer than we think it should.
Cogent questions - perhaps a matter of perspective.
OK, we're on the same page then; so in situations where these signs have been posted, one should move over regardless of how fast you're going. And, of course, they're not going to be there on highways that are frequently intersected by traffic-light controlled intersections, or highways where vehicles can exit/enter from the left lane. There is no 'fast' lane on that type of highway, any more than on Granville Street in Vancouver or Blanchard in Victoria, or Bowen Road in Nanaimo.
I never suggested that one could be blamed for the illegal behaviour of others! However, sitting in the left lane of a highway, insisting on driving at the speed limit but without returning to the right lane although you're not passing - well, in that instance, you're not in compliance with all other laws, if signs have been posted telling you to keep right unless passing. And while the resultant clustering of traffic behind may be in part due to others exceeding the speed limit, if it's a situation where moving over would have released the logjam, then certainly one is partly to blame.
Look, don't think for a moment that I'm saying that every driver should be trying to get the hell out of the way all of the time - I would be a hypocrite if I said that; the fact is, if I'm driving in a column of traffic in the left lane of a multi-lane highway, at the same average speed of the vehicles ahead of me, I feel no compulsion or obligation to move over. And if some idiot (whose visual perception obviously only extends a short distance ahead of him) tries to pressure me out of the way then I'll react by gently easing off the gas until my following distance to the vehicle ahead has increased sufficiently to compensate for the lack of space the driver behind has got - it's the only wise thing to do, to my mind.
But if I'm travelling on an efficient highway with light traffic, then regardless of whether there are signs mandating it or not, I'll move over to the right lane; and I would expect that any conscientious driver would do the same. That said, if I see that traffic will be merging in on an entrance ramp, I'll move into the left lane temporarily to give them space; again, I would expect that any conscientious driver would do that.
What needs to be realized and recognized is that Defensive Driving has nothing to do with slavish adherence to speed limits; it has everything to do with maximizing space for the vehicle and visibility for the driver, as a matter of constant practice when behind the wheel.
As for the 85th percentile thing? I'm not so sure about that, quite frankly. But I do know that traffic laws are created for two fudamental reasons - to prevent collisions, AND to promote the smooth flow of traffic. And nobody can argue with that, eh?
Attitude IS everything, the problem is a wrong attitude
This discussion has brought up the 85th percentile argument. Sometimes it is referred to indirectly by saying the majority of drivers know what is best. The US Dept. of Transportation came up with the 85th percentile rule way back in the 60's when superhighways were the in thing. They determined that there was less chance of an accident when everyone was going the same speed. Their study was to be applied to major highways ONLY, like the TransCanada Hwy 1, or the interstate freeways so common now in the US. That led to the development of the Solomon Curve which was erroneously used to show that if you were going 50 km/h you were actually at greater risk of having an accident than if you were going 100 km/h. This is, of course, ridiculous, unless you are doing 50 km/h on Hwy 1 when everyone else is doing 100 km/h. The engineers wryly noted at the time it was the only rule that allowed drivers to vote for the speed limit with their gas pedal. The truth is, the faster you go, the greater the risk. An unintended consequence of all this is that the 85th percentile is now being applied even to city streets, which is pure stupidity. I live on a road that the engineers have determined is safe to drive at 30 km/h, but the 85th percentile speed is 67 km/h. According the opinions of some, that means that the speed limit should be raised to perhaps 65 km/h? Even the local Police don't attempt to drive this road at much more than 50 km/h, but some drivers think they know better. The local towing companies do a good business on our road pulling people out of the bush or the ditch. Most of the time the engineers do get it right, and most of the time average drivers get it wrong. Obey the speed limit or be willing to accept the resposiblility that your attitude, combined with the attitudes of many more like you, have led to the death or serious injury of far too many.
I recommend the following article for a little different perspective: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/11/the-85th-percentile-folly.html
Scroll back up top to the original posting
The legislation has NOTHING to do with speed limits.The original poster,I am assuming an RCMP member,brought into the post the issue of speed as the major component of the legislation.Speed limits are not a component of the current law (MVA sec150 (1)Read the part in the original post about a judge would not support a conviction, if the offender was traveling at the speed limit.The posting officer agrees with the judges position regarding that matter,while stating that position is contrary to the law this is about.So my interpretation of this is,two people entrusted with enforcing and upholding BC law will choose to base their duties on their own personal opinions,of the keep right except to pass law.In effect,what both the posting officer,and the judge are saying is,that although there is a violation of the failing to keep right law,because the speed limit was not exceeded,that law does not count?So maybe driving drunk is a go,provided no other infractions occur?The law and personal opinions of any law are a bad combination at the enforcement and judicial level.I can see Police doing this, but a judge should be expected to uphold the law as it was intended.So maybe this is why the law is being addressed by Todd Stone, possibly because of the lack of enforcement of the current law of,keep right except to pass.Maybe everyone has to made aware that this law exists' and needs to be enforced,for the benefit of all people driving on the roads.
Keep right except to pass
Today I was driving in the rain and there was water on the highway.
The posted speed limit was 90 and I was content to drive at 85 and in the right lane, until I caught up with a vehicle driving at 80 or less.
So I break and when safe I signal to make a lane change into the left lane and speed up to 90 to make my pass.
Unfortunately I'm now in what has become the lane for speeders and before I can safely make my pass and safely change back into the right lane I have a vehicle dangerously close to me and flashing his headlights.
Would some of you have me stay in the right lane and drive at 80 or slower or am I allowed to make the maneuver that I made?
On the way home I was driving about 90 in a 90 speed zone on a piece of highway that merged from 2 lanes to 1 lane.
This time I stayed in the right lane until close to the end of the 2 lanes and I signaled to make the merge.
Unfortunately a faster vehicle decided that it was ok to pass me as I was attempting to merge, causing me to make a last second decision to decelerate and to drive in the curbe lane to avoid a collision. Thankfully the second vehicle kept a safe distance an allowed the merge to happen.
So what would the speeders have me do to correct this scary situation from happening next time?
So much trouble
It seems you have a problem with driving in traffic.Maybe take the bus,it will reduce your stress level.Best part is, its free,if you live in Vancouver, think of the money you will save!
I live in Vancouver - the bus is certainly not free!
But I do wonder why Island Guy had to brake - shouldn't he have seen the situation coming much sooner?
Why oh why do people have so much difficulty dealing with time and space? It's absurd; they don't drive their cars, they herd them ...
Unfortunatly I thought that
Unfortunatly I thought that there was lots of time to safely merge but the person that decided to run me off the road was trying to pass one last vehicle before the one lane. I had no idea that he was exceeding the speed limit by that much.
Unfortunatly this scenario happens often, and had I changed lanes earlier the speeder would have tailgated me and been angry that I was impeding traffic.
I do quite well driving in British Columbia thank you very much, but I find merging traffic almost a no mans land at times.
An accurate answer?
Island_Guy, thank you for your careful, considerate, attentive, law-abiding driving. It is not clear if krusty604 is simply providing an answer to your question "what would the speeders have me do" or if he is expressing his own attitude. Sadly, I suspect it is an accurate answer to your question and that is why the hooded figure with the scythe and hour-glass will continue to frequent our roads. But here's a thought. If you had slowed from 85 kph to the speed of the 80 kph vehicle you were following, it would have taken you approximately 1 minute longer to complete a 20 km journey or 5 minutes longer to complete a 100 km journey. Are those few minutes so important?
Submitted by E-mail
A comment on passing lane drivers: HATE EM!!! I have taken exits off of the divided highway (on the Island) to escape the LeMans 500 race coming up behind me because some idiot is cruising in the outside lane, pacing a vehicle driving appropriately in the inside lane.
I drive in the right lane (unless I'm passing) and the last thing I want is to be jammed together with other vehicles at highway speeds! and that is what these lousy drivers create. There are outrageous speeders out there and we call them radar bait, let the police deal with them, the last thing you want is them crowded in and looking to weave their way out of a mess caused by an outside lane cruiser.
I am 64, an avid outdoors person, back country hiker, white water canoeist, and when people ask if these pursuits scare me I say; No, but I'm very careful driving to the outdoors because I know lots of people who have been hurt or killed in cars. Outside lane cruisers make me very nervous and I've seen scary driving provoked by their obstructing traffic including the last time I drove my granddaughters up Island. We found ourselves overtaken by a high speed jam caused by an idiot in the outside lane, this made me very anxious with my darlings in the car. There is no defence for this terrible driving.
It's simple: "Keep right except to pass", this is not rocket science. It's a safe, good driving habit.
Submitted by E-mail
I believe that the new signs for drivers to move over out of the left lane will not be enough. Like in Washington State, they also put that it is Washington State Law on the sign, otherwise, people ignore like the "Be Courteous". It must have that it is B.C. Law or else we will still have the Self-centered drivers slowing down traffic and causing dangerous conditions. Most near accidents I see are caused by slow drivers.
Submitted by E-mail
Since they have changed the 'keep right except to pass' I think the highway driving has become worse. Some drivers are passing one car at a time and become a menace. Out of province drivers don't know about this new law and continue to be in the left lane. Big truckers are pulling out to pass and become caught in the left lane because they cannot get past the other driver. (Maybe they shouldn't have pulled out in the first place...I guess it is so they don't have to gear down but end up on a hill and have to). I have seen numerous times where this has happened near parksville and then cars will pull into the right lane and pass them...a very dangerous move!
While this law had good intentions I think it has in fact made things worse from Nanaimo north. And then on the parkway through Nanaimo the speed is 90K and yet there are traffic lights to turn left so drivers remain in the left lane in order to make the turns.
I don't think it can be enforced there because if you don't get into that lane drivers tend not to yield to let you in.
Favouring the Speeders
My problem is, those impatient drivers don't give me enough time. When I went to Chilliwack from Surrey last week, I had to change lanes 14 times. Vehicles on right are driving under the speed limit and when I move to right, within 5 seconds, and half of the time, I don't get chance to move to left for a while because of the volume, I have to move to left again and if I don't think I have enough room and stayed on left, then the driver behind me flashes light. I don't feel comfortable changing lanes every few seconds and I don't feel safe. By the looks of the law, inconvenience to the speeders values much more than the average good drivers. Due to this law, drivers on left coming on higher speed thinks I have to mover over and they are taking advantage of this to intimidate driver's on left lanes. When I am on left and have left some safe room due to the condition of the road, the driver behind always thinks I leave too much room and looks for opportunity to pass me and come in front of me (not to mention, I also get middle finger) Eventually I get to the point where I just have to follow what others does and don't leave enough room and but just have to be careful. At the same time, I think, if I get a ticket for being on left when I did not think I had enough room on right but police did (and most of the fast drivers does), I would like to contest because I don't think it is right. Again the problem is, work where I earn my living. I loose my earning. It involves hassle and most of the people pay and I do too. But I haven't for long time.
Pet peeve of Speeders
As the Minister of Transport Todd Stone has lost his licence to drive in the past do to speeding, and is still a known speeder, ( even with his wife and 3 children in the vehicle) proving he is a clueless driver in charge of our Hwy's, ( A total Joke in my mind) he of course brings to law one of his biggest pet peeve's, plain & simple, diguised as safety! Spending huge amounts of money on what was already an existing law. I see it as solely a political move to gain brownie points from the 85% of drivers that Speed! Same as his Speed Increases...... My Question is shouldn't a Transport Minister actually be a professional driver and have some clue about Safety? I believe a Trans Minister should be Appointed, Not voted into office, catering to speeders solidifies his office all while actual safety goes out the window,,,, SAD!!!