Driving in the wrong lane can earn you a ticket. We don’t mean driving in the wrong direction, either – although wrong-way driving will definitely get you in trouble. We’re talking about driving in the left lane. In a large and growing number of states, keep right laws restrict which lanes drivers can use.

How common are keep right laws?

The majority of states have laws that either require slower traffic to stay in the right lane or that restrict left-lane driving to passing only.

MIT has a list of keep right laws by state, but be warned that new and stricter laws are being passed all the time. Oklahoma, for example, recently passed a law that restricts the left lane of a four-lane highway to passing only.

Why are keep right laws becoming more common?

Some drivers feel that they should be able to drive in the left lane if they’re going the speed limit. Having to move over for people who are speeding – and therefore breaking the law – can seem unfair.

But as the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right – or an excuse for cruising in the left lane.

When slower drivers stay in the left lane, they impede the flow of traffic. This can cause other drivers to have to slow down suddenly or swerve, possibly resulting in accidents or contributing to road rage.

Driving in the right lane also makes it easier for emergency vehicles to pass without having to wait for drivers to move over.

What happens if you break the keep right law?

In states with keep right laws, driving in the left lane could land you a ticket. According to NewsOK, such a ticket in Oklahoma could run you up to $235. In the three months after the new keep right law was passed, Oklahoma police handed out 60 tickets.

What should drivers do?

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Many people don’t know about keep right laws, but this doesn’t mean they won’t get a ticket.

  • Know your state’s laws and try to keep up with new legislation as it’s passed.
  • When driving out of state, keep in mind that the local laws may be different.
  • When in doubt, keep right except to pass.

If you see a reckless driver, you can report the driver to the police. Do not try to take matters into your own hands by blocking traffic. It isn’t your job, and it can make the situation more dangerous.