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Message Monday - Move to the right if car behind is in sight


6-26 message mondayDo you find yourself hanging out in the left lane on a multi-lane highway?

This is one of the biggest pet peeves the Iowa DOT hears from drivers. This pet peeve can also be dangerous. Driving slower than the speed limit or the flow of traffic in the left lane can cause rear-end collisions because approaching drivers are not expecting slower speeds in the “passing” lane.

So what makes the left lane the “passing” lane? The use of highway lanes is governed by Iowa Code section 321.297(2)




  1. Any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of
    traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing

    shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic
    upon all roadways, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb
    or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another
    vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left
    turn at an intersection, an alley, private road or driveway.

The rule of thumb is to drive in the right lane unless you are passing another vehicle. After you pass, move back into the right lane as soon as it is safe to do so.

Be a decent human being and a courteous driver – keep to the right whenever you can:

The fatality count of 133 is an increase of seven since last Monday. In all of 2016, 405 people were killed on Iowa highways. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report.

Passing on the right is dangerous, especially when passing an eighteen wheeler or larger truck as they cannot always see you there. I am a supporter of the "pass on the right, drive on the left" theory. If you're not passing; move to the right lane.
This does NOT mean that I believe that you should drive excessively fast in the left lane. The amount of time saved is usually only seconds and it's just not worth the risk. Besides, driving fast usually means that you will get to the next red light before anyone else so it ends up being a wasted effort and gas. Ideally, you should only need to pass if the driver (in the right lane) is moving below the posted speed limit.
Be courteous to other drivers, give them space, let them in if they are merging (Use the "zipper" method if there is more than one merging driver.) and you will all make it home in one piece.

Approaching drivers who move to the passing lane should look ahead and be prepared to "expect" anything. Anytime you pass or change lanes you have to be responsible for that action not assume everyone should move over and let you speed by them. The speeding IS the unexpected action. Driving the speed limit is NOT an unexpected event.

Also to think about, rear end collisions occur due to excessive speeding by motorists who are distractive drivers and if following the comment on being a decent human being and courteous driver then far too many are willfully disobeying laws that come first before allowing a reckless and speeding vehicle to use the left lane as that creates more crashes and fatalities than someone whose driving the speed limit or couple miles over in the left lane. I agree with larger slower moving vehicles but the brief article almost sounds like we all need to move over and allow speeding vehicles to fly by.

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Iowa highway in the evening