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Why it's not always right to drive in the left lane

Imagine you are driving down the highway. The speed limit is 65 mph and you are cruising along at that speed when you notice the car in front of you is definitely going slower than 65. You move into the left lane to pass. 

But once you do that, you get stuck behind someone else who isn't going fast enough. You have to slow down, the cars behind you have to slow down and people start going back and forth between the left and the right lane trying to get around slower traffic. This scene can spark a lot of frustration, anger and potentially dangerous moves by other drivers, which is why in Pennsylvania, drivers are only supposed to drive in the left lane under specific conditions.

According to state laws, the left lane of a roadway should only be used when a driver is:

  • Passing another driver
  • Trying to avoid an obstacle in the right lane
  • Making a left turn

In other words, unless people need to be in the left lane, they should be driving in the right lane. This may not seem like a big deal, and police don't commonly enforce this law, but it can and does lead to some dangerous situations.

Being forced to brake because of a driver who is driving the same speed as the cars in the right lane, or sometimes slower, can be extremely frustrating. Oftentimes, they follow slower cars too closely or swerve in and out of traffic just to get around a slower driver. When the driver finally does move out of the way, other drivers speed up, sometimes going faster than they were before. 

These sudden changes in traffic speed and the obstruction caused by a slow left-lane driver can be very dangerous, especially on busy highways where people are going fast, merging and switching lanes.

With all this in mind, we encourage Pennsylvania drivers to be aware of their surroundings on the road, comply with traffic laws and use caution when driving. Making safe decisions is the best way to keep others safe and avoid catastrophic car accidents.

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