Recently, while driving with a friend on Route 11 on the west side of Potsdam, where there are four lanes, I was just passing a slower driver that was driving in the left lane when he/she started to move into my lane. A timely blast of my horn discouraged that driver from the intended manoeuver, but one of my passengers asked me why I was passing on the right. I explained to him that it is proper to pass on the right when there are two lanes in each direction. But, the incident reminded me that I had not addressed this issue since 2007, and perhaps it's time to review the situations that passing on the right is permissible.
You should normally pass other vehicles on the left, but passing on the right is allowed in certain situations. You may pass a vehicle on the right only in the situations listed below, and only if you can do so safely. You may NOT drive on or across the shoulder or edge line (fog line) of the road unless a sign permits it or when directed by a traffic officer.
Passing on the right is allowed under the following situations:
When a vehicle ahead is making a left turn.
When you are driving on a two-way road that is marked for two or more lanes or is wide enough for two or more lanes in each direction and passing is not prohibited by signs, or restricted by parked cars or other obstructions.
When you are driving on a one-way road that is marked for two or more lanes or is wide enough for two or more lanes in each direction and passing is not prohibited by signs, or restricted by parked cars or other obstructions.
If you are going to pass on the right at an intersection, check traffic ahead carefully. Make sure an oncoming vehicle is not turning left into your path, and watch out at the right side of the road for pedestrians, bicyclists, in-line skaters and moped riders.
Before passing on the right on multilane roads such as expressways, make sure you check your mirrors, use proper signals for lane change, and look over your right shoulder for other vehicles. If you find that other vehicles are passing you on your right, you should move into the right lane. Generally speaking, you should drive in the right lane except for passing.
Unless there are regulatory signs prohibiting driving in the left lane, it is legal to do so. However, in general, slower traffic should keep to the right, allowing faster traffic to pass on the left. The two regulatory signs that prohibit driving in the left lane unless you are passing are "Slower Traffic Keep Right" and "Keep Right Except To Pass", shown with this article. Since there are few four-lane streets and roads in the North Country, these regulatory signs are not normally used. Nevertheless, on the few roads where there are four lanes, including E. Main St. Road in Malone, and Route 11 on the west side of Potsdam, motorists should drive in the right lane until they are within a fourth of a mile or less from where the highway becomes two lanes again.
For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board's website at www.franklincony.org and click on "Traffic Safety Board" under departments then look for Did You Know articles under "services."