Why is Everyone in the Left Lane?

Busy Left LaneMore and more often when I drive on a busy highway I'm finding much of the traffic jammed into the left lane, each driver trying unsuccessfully to get ahead of the others.

One would think that this situation would be akin to being the proverbial kid in the candy store for anyone in traffic law enforcement, violations everywhere! 

Slower traffic using the left lane, following too closely, unsafe lane change, cross single solid line, failing to signal lane change and, depending on your point of view, the root cause of much of this: attempting to exceed the speed limit.

Left Lane Blockers

No one likes slower drivers, left lane or not. This statement is not proven by enforcement activity however. There were a grand total of 4 tickets written under section 150(2) MVA in the entire province for failing to move right in 2022.

2016 saw the introduction of section 151.1 MVA making it an offence for slower traffic not to move out of the leftmost lane on highways with posted speeds of 80 km/h or more. There were 65 tickets issued for this in 2022.

Keep Right if You are Slower

If you missed it, this is the new law requiring that you exit the furthest left lane when another vehicle approaches from behind when you are driving on highways with a posted speed of 80 km/h or higher and traffic is moving at a speed of at least 50 km/h.

There are exemptions to this, no need to move over if you are using an HOV lane, preparing for a left turn, passing another vehicle, allowing someone to merge, or following the slow down, move over law.

Following Too Closely

When I worked traffic enforcement I always saw following too closely as the greater evil when compared to failing to move over.

This may be the prevailing view because there were 1,078 tickets for this written to the drivers of light vehicles and 28 to drivers of commercial vehicles in 2022. The driver in front was often already driving faster than the posted speed limit and that indicated to me that the tailgater was trying to go faster still.

No sense hanging back at a safe distance and hoping the driver in front will move over, is there?

Crossing Solid Lines

Crossing a single solid white line to change lanes is forbidden. Those who are trying to get ahead using the HOV lane are frequent violators. They will move out of the HOV lane, pass on the right using the leftmost or "fast" lane and then move back into the HOV lane again.

About 1,586 of these violation tickets were issued in 2022.

Failing to Signal

Please, tell me that you are going to change lanes by using your signal light, preferably in advance of doing it. A defensive driver always signals, even when they think that they are the only vehicle on the road. 907 tickets were issued to those that failed in this task in 2022.


That leaves us with speeding. Speed related charges amounted to 189,315 in 2022, That's almost 40% of all tickets issued that year.

Perhaps it's time to let automated enforcement deal with some of those speeding tickets and have the police refocus their attention on dangerous behaviours that need to be dealt with in person.

Share This Article

Your comment on Left Lane Hogs is text book on why speed Limits need to be set at the upper end of safe travel speeds, not to mention why automated enforcement has no business here particularly when proper speed limits are not in place. The tail gaters are symptoms and not causes. If the guy at the front wasn't afraid of the favourite activity of law enforcement, he might be more inclined to complete a pass sooner. BTW, the comment about slower drivers in the left lane has to disappear from our vocabularies. The left lane should always be referred to as the passing lane.

One thing that jumped out screaming at me was the 2400 : 34 ratio of tickets, for following too closely for light vehicles vs semis. That is a mere 1.4 % of the tickets.

Stats Can shows approximately 27 trucks per passenger car, with trucks driving far more kms than cars.

From my experiences, especially on single lane highways, (like hwy 5 Kamloops to Jasper) this would seem to lean towards enforcement leniency to the "professional" drivers.

Granted they may have better visibility, but in most cases, they seem to be just trying to intimidate and 'bully' their way past smaller vehicles. They far too often follow at an insanely close distance.

Just my $ 0.02

You touched on issues that push my buttons.  The signal deficeit really annoys me.  How about the ones who signal after or during their intent - I'm always commenting to them (to myself in the car) "hey lousy driver, I failed psychic class, give me a hint"  As for the speed mongers, their atrosious driving skills haven't changed since Stone anti-upped the limits.  They just drive that much faster +10,20 & more.  Doing 145+ on the Coq is the norm.  I can't believe how many bad drivers stir their vehicles outside the lines, no excessive speed, just really lousy at staying off the centre and fog lines, most evident where you see the lines have been worn off the road.  And the "distracted" cell phone use is disgusting.  I think we're done with "educating" drivers, time to step up the penalty, vehicles ceased & a graduated return of licence.  Enough is enough.  People are not that stupid, they are defiant and selfish - not ignorant. 

My Dad used to have me sit beside him and steer the family car when I was about 10 or 11 years old.  I recall that "Keep Right Except to Pass" was drilled into me.  Later, I got my driver's licence on my 16th birthday in 1952.  If I was critical of other people's driving, Dad would often say, "Be concerned with driving your own vehicle.  How the other person drives is a matter for the police, not you!"  He also taught me a lot about the physics of driving such as stopping diistances being directly related to any increase in vehicle weight but also, by the square of any increases in speed. Great lessons indeed and they've seen me through many miles/kilometers since in cars, trucks and motorcycles and some competitive driving.

But there is something else too.  It's called "Courtesy" and I swear that it's not in most drivers' vocabulary. If it could be legislated,  90% of the MVA would be superfluous. The increasing lack of courtesy, perhaps by the feeling of anonymity, has eroded our driving etiquette to a shockingly low level.  Perhaps ICBC putting your cell phone number on your licence plate might help?

The erosion continued however but mainly due to a lack of enforcement of the Keep Right laws.  In Washington State, you would get nailed but in BC, it only seemed to happen if you really ticked off an officer. When something isn't enforced it is ignored and becomes the acceptable norm.

Let's also remember the self-righteous who believe that they are some kind of honourable traffic speed "regulators".  The fact that they cause some very dangerous situations seems to be beyond their comprhension.

Yes, Todd Stone got excited about the left lane hoggers but it was due to him missing a few Swartz Bay ferries due to left lane slowpokes. Rather than just telling our police to start enforcing, he chose to add a whole bunch of wording about speed, speed limits etc. as mentioned above. But still, we haven't seen enforcement.  So what was the point?  More legislation to be ignored?

I'm older now. My reactions may not be as fast so I tend to pretty much follow the speed limits.  I still Keep Right but that to me is just basic courtesy regardless of the speed limits etc.  If I get a tailgater on a single lane road, I'll wave them on when there is a clear space. If it's on a multi-lane road and I'm on the right, I'll slow a bit and hope the idiot will pass.  Much rather have him/her in front of me than behind.  If that doesn't work, a jerked thumb backwards and a tap on the brakes usually will.  Perhaps the next will be a dash cam with embedded GPS readings.  Calling 911 doesn't work because my cell isn't on while driving.

But I do miss the motorcycle.  I used to be able to come alongside the moron at a stop and vent about their habits and parentage.

Hawk totally nailed it.

If i'm on a single lane highway or road and some hot shot wants to get by me, by all means. Just give me a sec to find a safe place to your flying ass by. Done, no problem. Same thing with motorcycles. I know you can go faster than me and react faster than me so again, fly by.

However, the left lane hoggers just absolutely drive me wild! I can't get over the number of people that hang out in the left lane when the right lane is empty. Now if we want to get by you we have to pass on the right??? I just don't get it, and you'd think, you'd think, that after say 5-6 cars pass you on the right that you might get the hint, but, no, they will just doddle along in the left lane. Wish police would enforce that one while they are doing distracted driving monitoring as well!!!!!

Ok, off my Soap box now.

Have a good last week of Summer Everyone!

An automated enforcement approach to speed enforcement will only benefit the authority that collects the resultant fines. Compared to being stopped by a traffic services officer roadside, the violation notice in the mail a few days later from a photo radar or other machine driven measuring device has little or no effect on the behaviour of the operator of the motor vehicle being targetted, I suggest. 

The real problem of almost 40% of traffric tickets being issued for speeding is that the posted highway speed limits in BC is too low. Consider the 85 % of traffic approach, then increase the maximum limit to 130 kph so that highway engineers can properly sign those ones that meet the necessary critieria to be driven at that speed. Oh, and stop sending highly trained constables to "fishing holes" on straight sections of highway where the ashpalt is in great shape and the sightlines are terrific. Instead put those policing efforts into road safety enforcement which in my opinion is far more encompassing than speeding. We will all be more likely not only to arrive safely at our destination but also retain respect for traffic laws.

An automated enforcement approach to speed enforcement will only benefit the authority that collects the resultant fines.

This statement, is flat inaccurate, but not totally incorrect. Certainly, the crown purse benefits from the fines, but the offending driver benefits from the sting of the fine, and hopefully becomes more vigilant in driving within speed limits. Not only that, he/she becomes more vigilant in watching for vehicles parked on the shoulder - not only in case it's a photo radar unit, but also because it could be a disabled vehicle, with perhaps a person about to absent-mindedly step into the driving lane from the front of the vehicle - a good reason to lifty the right foot.

Come to think of it, perhaps the almost-free practice of parking an empty vehicle on the shoulder, with a couple of sticks leaning against the grille - visible under the unit from a distance - will trigger an "Uh-oh, photo radar.  Better check my speed" reaction.

A Good Thing, no?