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Safe in 60: How to Use the Passing Lane

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – We’ve all seen the signs on the freeway that read, “Keep Right Except to Pass.” But how many people follow this rule?

If you spend any time commuting, you probably encounter someone clogging up the passing lane several times a day.

There isn’t anything much more frustrating than being stuck behind that left lane loafer who refuses to move over. Not only is this irritating to other drivers, but it’s also dangerous — and it’s against the law.

In Utah, if you are in the left lane on a highway with more than one lane in the same direction and someone approaches from behind to pass, you must move to the right — regardless of how fast you’re going.

Here’s why:

  • Research shows using the left lane solely for passing increases the flow of traffic. That is why every state has laws restricting the use of that lane.
  • When slower drivers cruise in the left lane, it forces faster vehicles to continuously hit the brakes and switch lanes to pass on the right — raising the potential for accidents.
  • Leaving the left lane open also allows emergency vehicles to pass safely.

When you get behind the wheel, you are responsible for yourself and following the law. It is not your job to make others obey the speed limit. So don’t attempt to keep others from speeding by staying in the fast lane; you are putting people at risk. When you have a safe opening, move over and let others pass.

Here’s the Utah statute:

Utah Code 41-6a-704. Overtaking and passing vehicles proceeding in same direction

(2) On a highway having more than one lane in the same direction, the operator of a vehicle traveling in the left general purpose lane:
(a) shall, upon being overtaken by another vehicle in the same lane, yield to the overtaking vehicle by moving safely to a lane to the right; and
(b) may not impede the movement or free flow of traffic in the left general purpose lane.
(3) An operator of a vehicle traveling in the left general purpose lane that has a vehicle following directly behind the operator’s vehicle at a distance so that less than two seconds elapse before reaching the location of the operator’s vehicle when space is available for the operator to yield to the overtaking vehicle by traveling in the right-hand lane is prima facie evidence that the operator is violating Subsection (2).

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