Roadside Chat - Passing on left moves us in right direction

7-8 pass on leftFew driving habits infuriate your fellow drivers more than puttering at or below the speed limit in the left lane of a multi-lane highway. There are certain expectations drivers have related to what other drivers are going to do. Unfortunately, over time we may develop our own set of expectations that are sometimes at odds with those sharing the roads. That’s when the potential for crashes increases. Get back to the basics to improve safety for you and those who share the road with you.




  • Learn the rules of the road
    Think back to your driver’s education class. Hopefully, your instructor emphasized the rules of the road, including this one straight from the Iowa Driver’s Manual –

    On multi-lane roads, the left-most lane is intended to be used to pass slower vehicles. If you pass on the right, the other driver may have difficulty seeing you and might suddenly change lanes in front of you. Never pass on the shoulder, whether it is paved or not. Other drivers will never expect you to be there and may pull off the road without looking.

  • Keep rightFollow the signs
    Another way to get everyone on the same page is by following posting signs. You have probably seen a “Keep Right Except to Pass” sign on your travels.

  • Know the law
    A third is by getting up to speed on the laws that are in place. Here’s what a portion of Iowa Code Section 321.297 (d)2 - says about the subject:

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.

Understanding and adhering to the rules of the road will go a long way to improving safety and reducing crashes.

In Iowa in 2022, there have been 159 deaths in traffic crashes. That’s an increase of 12 since last Friday. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report at

As we all know, the normal speed on I35 is 80 mph, even though posted is 70mph. So with the wording used in this law, one who is obeying the law with their cruise set at 70 is breaking the law if they are in the left(inside) lane.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Have a comment?


©  Iowa Department of Transportation.  All rights reserved.