Keep Right Except to Pass
Left lane hogs were back in the news again this week. The CTV Vancouver news story that I watched complained that drivers were not being held to account by police for failing to move out of the left lane and letting other drivers pass. The report claims that based on ticket numbers reported by ICBC the number of drivers ticketed for failing to keep right fell from 799 in 2016 to 699 in 2018.
Overhead views of traffic taken from a helicopter showed vehicles in the left lane moving at the speed of surrounding traffic being overtaken and not moving to the right. There was no indication of how fast these vehicles were actually moving or what the speed limit was.
Special mention was made of one driver who followed along at a dangerously close position in the hope of bulldozing the vehicle in front out of the way.
Prior to the most recent changes to the Motor Vehicle Act police relied on section 150 (2) of the Motor Vehicle Act when drivers failed to keep right for slower traffic.
According to information furnished by ICBC, drivers are very seldom charged under this section with numbers ranging from a high of 24 in 2015 to a low of 11 in 2017.
Enacted in 2015, section 151.1 clarified the use of the "leftmost lane" by slower traffic. This section also seems to be rarely used, with a high of 150 in 2016 and a low of 90 in 2017.
Depending on the situation, either section may be used to penalize a driver today.
Judging by the numbers in the news story, it appears that what was being quoted were tickets issued under section 150(1) MVA which deals with a driver's duty to keep to the right side of the roadway in general, rather than for not moving out of the way for faster vehicles specifically.
The opinions expressed in the story and encountered over my policing experience are interesting. The one that caused me the most difficulty was that of the traffic court justice I regularly appeared in front of who told me in no uncertain terms that no conviction would ever result under section 150(2) if the driver in the left lane was traveling at the speed limit.
I never tested it as those drivers were few and far between. What I saw most often was the bulldozer trying to exceed the speed limit. I considered it to be the more dangerous behaviour and that is what I wrote.
This might be a view shared by many traffic enforcement officers as tickets for following too closely ranged from 2,500 in 2014 to 2,000 in 2017.
Odd that our legislature would enact a law that facilitates the disobedience of speed limits...
General Poor Standard
The reality of this law is that when you have streams of traffic all doing the same and the curb lane being open the only alternative to pass is on the right. Why is this? Maybe it’s the driving instruction? -With many driving instructors saying the danger will come from the right so stay in the centre lanes- regardless. It all comes down to the general poor standard and inconsiderate nature of BC (especially lower mainland) drivers.
Case in point. I recently spent time in Europe. The ‘bulldozer’ you refer to does a great job there of clearing the passing lane. Why? Because drivers see them coming in there mirrors... fancy that... using mirrors, and move before it gets to tail gating. Here you could sit behind someone from Chilliwack to Vancouver and they’d dig their heels in and say “ I’m doing the speed limit so I’m not the problem crowd”. WRONG!
Drivers here think it’s their personal piece of black stuff and won’t move until they see fit. These are the same drivers who don’t yield to emergency vehicles and pull to the curb. The same drivers that blow by police who have stopped on the side of the road with lights on. These are the drivers who don’t see their actions as being the issue because- it’s ‘their’ lane and they aren’t speeding.
Or even worse- the drivers who are speeding, but the speed the car behind is doing, or wants to do, isn’t okay with them so they won’t move over as its just going “too quick”.
Across Europe, Australasia and often in the US, those who chose to speed can feel free, until they are caught by the next guy and then they move. As everyone in their path moves out of the passing lane as they know and subscribe to the same rules- it’s the cops that catch speeders. Not the rolling road block of inconsiderate commuters.
I really don’t care if someone wants to speed and isn’t holding up traffic. I pick the speed I want to travel and move out of the way of the car behind if I’m in the passing lane. And vice versa.
Let’s face it BC highway speed limits are ridiculously low and totally inappropriately placed.
The problem here is the basic common driving standards.
Those drivers with any driving skill and awareness are reduced to that lowest common standard due to the overwhelming poor drivers.
Nothing will change with this issue unfortunately, until mad max thunder dome is the normal driving standard ie (get out the way or get rammed out of the way).
Attitude Changes Needed
There are more important issues for police services other than enforcing traffic rules of etiquette. I have not seen this news report: however, I don't like blaming. A report about how to deal with folks in the left lane would better serve I believe. If the report blames police for not enforcing they are at the same time excusing those drivers from using common sense and excuse them from following rules of the road.
A Washington state trooper said on KOMO News or some such that Canadians tend to drive in the left unaware slower traffic should move right. On vacation I may do the same if I'm searching for a left turning intersection.
On the connector between Cumberland and Courtenay maybe drivers see it as act of civil disobedience because they think the connector is an extension of Cliffe Avenue? Driving my vehicle on the connector I found myself in a four-car box formation: The lead vehicles side by side blocked both lanes. I was content to follow in the right lane three seconds behind. A blue four-door sedan passed me on the left then honked the horn continuously. He was one or two seconds behind the left lane leading vehicle. At this time we were about 500 metres from an upcoming posted speed limit sign of 50 km/h ahead. I was scared and just pulled over to the side of the road and sat there for a few minutes.
People make mistakes all the time when driving. I'm 55 and still make mistakes. This seems like a large problem which may require attitudes to change rather than enforcement. Let ICBC run ads, then, when people refuse to move to the right, then enforcement.
The View from Latvia
Yes in all over crowded countries driving is a problem. Some truly selfish people are about.
Here in a nation the size of Scotland and with just one million and me there are no such problem as roads are biblical made for donkeys. Only in the city of Riga will you face what you say. In the rest of nation it is rural to real wild forest full of elk and hog.
Driving can be slow going at this time of year and I may be the only car to be seen. Potholes in the thawing sand and stone road surfaces take car unless one is testing out suspension springs. In summer it is a real dust bowl as cars race by the oncoming driver is blinded by dust in the wind.
To drive needs real skill and faith in your own ability.
I think some consistent, clear signage would help. There are too many different signs: Keep right, let others pass, slower traffic keep right, keep right except to pass, and I think there are a couple of others out there as well. Keep right except to pass is clear and consistent and that works for me.
Getting Ready to Turn Left
I have been a passenger in a car driving in left lane for km after km. It is nerve wracking & said so when we were being followed closer & closer. The driver chose to " make sure I can turn left down the road."
The rule in section 150 does provide an exemption in (2)(b) when the driver is preparing to turn left. Of course, this must be done with reason. Preparing a few kilometers in advance is not likely to be accepted as a defence in traffic court.
I don’t think the purpose of the Keep Right Except to Pass law has anything to do with facilitating the exceeding of speed limits, either by intent or practical effect. The purpose of a multilane roadway is to allow for the smooth flow of large volumes of traffic in a safer manner than is possible on a regular two lane road where opposite land passing is required in order to overtake slower moving vehicles. Unless one is passing another vehicle, no purpose is served by driving in the left, or passing lane. The comment by the JP that you referenced is truly perplexing, as their general perspective, and that of the police, is that they don’t write the laws, they just apply or enforce them. This JP seems to believe they have a fair amount of wiggle room in applying the law.
Two Wrongs don't make a Right
There are people who speed. There are people who enforce speeding laws. If you aren't one of those people who is authorized to enforce speeding laws. Just do what you can to travel on our highways yourself, within the law.
The law says if you are in an 80 kph zone or higher and the traffic is moving faster than 50 kph if you are travelling in the left lane and you are approached from the rear by another vehicle, you must pull into the right lane when safe. Plain and simple.
Yes, you may be travelling the speed limit, yes you may even be going over the speed limit. I invite you to read the MVA, you will note that it doesn't say "Unless you are, yourself is at or exceeding the speed limit you must pull into the right lane...."
No, it just says on the approach pull into the right lane.
Consider it this way, the person coming up on you may be the jerk that you think he/she is. They could be an aggressive inconsiderate, discourteous, accident causing boob. So, where do you want that driver to be in relation to your car ? Long ahead of you, certainly not tailgating getting madder by the second.
Enforcing the law
I spent the first several years of my working career enforcing provincial laws and regulations in the resource industry.
Never once did I hear there is an exception if one is meeting this section of the code that allows one to ignore the other. In plain simple English it makes no difference what else is involved if you are breaking a section of the code you are breaking a section.
It is very common to see two or more cars pulled over at one time. Happens all the time when they have radar traps, seatbelts and cell phone checks. So why is a guy that is impeding traffic and not following the law of keep right except to pass not pulled over along with the tailgater? One could get a ticket for tailgating the other for impeding traffic. Plain simple and enforcing the laws of the province.
Police Officers and Judges are all paid to uphold the law. They are not paid to only enforce the ones they agree with.
By the way when I started working I swore an oath to enforce all regulations. Do police and judges have anything similar? I know I would have been terminated if I started just enforcing what I wanted to.
Its a simple concept
My take on keep right boils down down to one question.When on a freeway,where left turns are not an option,what is the advantage to staying in the left lane while not passing?There are at least a dozen good reasons not to,but not one that I can think of, to support constantly using the left lane.I also find it interesting that the judge you mentioned would make a bold statement based on whether the person in the left lane was at the speed limit.I wonder what other laws were exempt from conviction,based on his or her personal opinions.
Wildlife and debris
"How does this new rule apply to a driver when there is little or no traffic on the highway?
When there is little traffic, and no one is approaching from behind, a driver can travel in the left-most lane. This allows drivers on four-lane highways in rural areas to keep a greater distance from the side of the road where there may be wildlife.
If the right lane contains debris, can the driver use the left lane?
Yes. If the left lane is clear and the right lane is not, the driver may remain in the left lane where it is safer to remain in the left lane."
Still Work To Do
Way back in the late 50's, I was a member of a "car club" and one of the things we did as a group was help stranded drivers, (most common was vacuum on fuel line), helped changing flats and on the one 4 lane road North of Winnipeg, we encouraged drivers to move from the left lane to the right. I guess we were ahead of our time. Of all the people I approached no one ever gave me grief and many thanked me for letting them know. I don't know if it was a "law" at that time but we did it because we thought it made sense and it was a courteous gesture.
We took a trip to Victoria last week and I saw many drivers not moving over and through the Malahat, there were lines of vehicles not moving over. So, still work to do there as well.
Nothing to do With Speed
I don’t think the purpose of the Keep Right Except to Pass law has anything to do with facilitating the exceeding of speed limits, either by intent or practical effect. The purpose of a multi lane roadway is to allow for the smooth flow of large volumes of traffic in a safer manner than is possible on a regular two lane road where opposite land passing is required in order to overtake slower moving vehicles.
Unless one is passing another vehicle, no purpose is served by driving in the left, or passing lane.
The comment by the JP that you referenced is truly perplexing, as their general perspective, and that of the police, is that they don’t write the laws, they just apply or enforce them. This JP seems to believe they have a fair amount of wiggle room in applying the law.
I continue to be confused / frustrated about what to do when I am 10% above the speed limit in the left lane with an aggressive bulldozer on my tail and the right lane is open. it often occurs when I am close to my turn off to the left. Yielding to the right just to let the bulldozer pass and then having to find my way back to the left lane again would certainly be more dangerous.
Slow on the left should mean below the speed limit only?
Courtesy is a very important part of being a safe driver.
One big problem is people do not give a driver a break. If you spot a person signaling to move into the left lane you should either speed up so that they can slip in behind you or slow slightly and let them move into the left lane depending on where your vehicle is in relation to them. That is just being courteous the same as if you have a car behind you that you know would like to pass moving over to let them do so. Also if you are close to your turn as you posted and the right lane is free I am sure if you had your left turn signal on indicating that you are turning and the right lane is free the other driver would move to the right. It is when you are behind a car that just seems to be running in that lane people do not know what the other drivers intentions are. And if he moved to the right and started to pass and you suddenly moved over it is a dangerous situation.
There also should be common-sense used as to how many kilometers one needs to move into the left lane prior to exiting. I say kilometers as I have seen people move into the left yet their turn is a couple of klicks ahead. Why?
CTV gets it wrong again
The reporter says "traffic is moving at least 80 km/hr" but the law says 50 km/hr, and a lot more. They also made the same errors in their print story, I pointed that out to them and they changed it but still got it wrong; I pointed out the errors in their updated version, but they haven't corrected it yet
When drivers must not use leftmost lane
151.1 (1) In this section, "leftmost lane", in relation to a laned roadway to which this section applies, means the lane that is furthest to the left of the marked lanes available for traffic proceeding in the same direction, other than
(a) a bus lane,
(b) a high occupancy vehicle lane, or
(c) a designated use lane.
(2) This section applies to a laned roadway if
(a) there are 2 or more marked lanes available for traffic proceeding in the same direction, other than a bus lane, a high occupancy vehicle lane or a designated use lane,
(b) the speed limit is at least 80 km/h, and
(c) the actual speed of traffic is at least 50 km/h.
(3) A driver of a vehicle in the leftmost lane must exit the lane on the approach of another vehicle in that lane, if it is safe to do so, except when
(a) overtaking and passing a third vehicle,
(b) allowing traffic to merge,
(c) preparing for a left hand turn at an intersection or into an exit, a private road or a driveway, or
(d) passing an official vehicle stopped on the side of or on the roadway.
I've spent weeks driving on the autobahns and in 20 countries, every American state and Canadian Province. I've never had an at-fault accident. Well one but the other guy never called it in. So, I maintain I consider myself a good and often lucky driver. 85% on the ICBC Refresher test...
There is a 'dance' to traffic in Europe, if you stray into the left lane doing 100kph, it could be the closing speed of that Audi doing 220kph is 120kph and carnage results. I've been in the midst of three 50km long accidents. BUT the rule of Keep Right Except To Pass (KRxTP) is the 'dance', it is the leapfrogging to maintain your comfortable speed. In North America and especially immigrant-rich cities like Vancouver, we 'dance' alone. Without enforcement on the KRxTP, without shoving it down people's ears, so that we all have an element of a Class 1 license respect for one another, the people are deaf to the road rage they're causing and blind to the simple 'Keep Right Except To Pass' signs.
We could transition in a month if this was drilled into everyone with a license, or training. I wrote to the Ministry of Highways and told them I wanted to be the poster child for Keep Right Except To Pass and a woman wrote back with some 2014 legislation and the 2015 initiative... and told me there would be new signs ('Keep Right Except To Pass' is kind of clunky language) and this rule was now again in the Learner's Driver manual. It's two lines versus the five it gets in the Class 1 book.
If every radio and tv screamed that driving is a dance, the freeway is the floor and we ought to learn the simple rule of respect, not strength, not inhibiting traffic by going 100kph in the left lane 'because...', no - I saw a beautiful 1964 Corvette with a guy dressed to the part, fedora, pipe... beautiful - but he was doing 90kph in the left lane = you can buy the car, you can't buy the driver. Respect gone.
Keep Right Except To Pass isn't just the freeway, highway 'way' to drive, it is a respect throughout the streets and avenues whereby everyone waits a little longer and everyone gets ahead a little more, and nobody steps on anymore toes as we dance. It blows my mind that the traffic reports are as bad as they were 20-30 years ago. We still crash like we always did. And 98% of these are automatic vehicles, two pedals, no stick-shift control or the mindset for serious driving skills. We seriously need to implant the KRxTP idea into our driving public.
The 100kph limit on our local highways is the lowest common denominator. There are stretches of Hwy 99/91/1 where the same road widths in Europe would have no limit, but our pitiful people aren't anywhere near ready for a 130kph Hwy 1 if they can't Keep Right Except To Pass. The Coquihalla was allegedly built to Autobahn standards and still - a camper doing 90kph in the left lane is likely to occur often.
Thanks for letting me vent after years of holding this grudge...