New ‘Move Right’ Law Makes It Illegal to Pass Cars Using the Right Lane on Highways

Highways and interstates make for fast and efficient ways of traveling in a car. However, those same highways and interstates can be some of the most dangerous stretches of the roadway for car safety due to high speeds and inattentive drivers. As a society, we are constantly learning ways to make it safer for drivers to travel at high speeds, including laws that forbid certain maneuvers in high-speed situations. Let’s look at some of the dangers of driving on highways and how to mitigate the risks, such as the new Move Right law.

Passing safely at high speeds on the highway

Highway traffic in Brandenburg, Germany
Highway traffic | Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images

One of the most important things you can do as a driver to keep you and other drivers safe is to follow the rules of the road. However, there are some lesser-known rules that many drivers are unaware of. One of those rules involves passing on the right.

In the U.S., on a two-lane highway, the left lane is reserved for passing only. Many drivers aren’t aware of this law and will use the lane as a cruising lane. Those same drivers unknowingly create unsafe conditions for other drivers who need to pass them and use the right lane. For emergency vehicles, this can be the difference between life and death if the left lane is congested and unpassable due to drivers cruising in the left lane and not using it for passing only.

The dangers of passing on the right

Drivers that hang out in the left lane create unsafe driving conditions by forcing others to pass on the right. Many drivers may think that passing on the right side is harmless and safe. The reasons that this can create a dangerous situation are numerous. First of all, if the driver in the left lane decides to change lanes suddenly, they may not see you due to poor visibility from the driver’s side. When changing lanes, best practice dictates that a driver check their mirrors as well as their blind spots. However, the passenger side has many more blind spots from the driver’s seat due to door pillars, other people sitting in the passenger seat, etc.

Another reason passing in the right lane is dangerous is that other drivers may be trying to exit or enter the highway. Again, since visibility on the passenger’s side is low for the driver, this can create a dangerous situation if the driver cannot see merging traffic. This maneuver also forces you to make unnecessary lane changes, which should be minimized for safety reasons.

The new Move Right highway law

The new Move Right law that has been recently implemented in South Carolina will begin ticketing those that camp out in the passing lane. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety website, “Effective August 15, 2021, a new South Carolina state law will require drivers to only use the far left-hand lane on controlled-access highways when overtaking and passing another vehicle. Controlled-access highways are most commonly interstate highways, but other examples include South Carolina Highways SC-22, SC-31, and SC-277.” 

The state will include with the new law a grace period of 90 days for everyone to get used to the new law, only issuing warnings to offenders. There will also be signage installed along highways to alert drivers to the new law. 

There are many measures in place to keep drivers safe at high speeds that all drivers should be aware of when operating a motor vehicle on highways. If there is an accident, move the vehicles off the road if it is safe to do so. This keeps traffic from becoming congested and creating hazardous conditions for emergency vehicles that respond. It’s also good practice not to drive too slow, even in the right lane, because this will create many lane changes for other drivers, causing more unsafe driving conditions for everyone. When operating a vehicle, put your phone away and turn it off. Increasingly, more and more accidents are the result of drivers texting and driving.

Following these simple guidelines can save lives. 

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