Home Forums California Motorists Issues Left Lane Courtesy

This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Shelia at NMA 8 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #176653611


    While the NMA has been promoting left lane courtesy, I can compare several states in which I have lived or worked. California is far worse than Maryland, DC, or Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and most other Eastern states in left lane courtesy (not that any of them are perfect).

    I think that a large part of the problem is the nearly complete lack of emphasis on what was taught in the East: Keep right except to pass. It seems to be ignored or glossed over in Driver Education courses. Indeed, the DMV booklet covering the topics for the license test seem to go too lightly on this and another issue: Right of Way when entering a freeway.

    On the lane courtesy issue, there are the random signs about slower cars moving to the right, but they do not address the circumstance of someone feeling “righteous” about driving slightly slower than the speed limit, and feeling that they shouldn’t let any faster car pass.

    The change will only occur when the DMV booklet stops emphasizing the need to keep clear of the right lane for the purpose of enabling oncoming cars to join the traffic pattern. Indeed, the booklet suggest regular travel NOT occur in the right lane, preferring either the left or center lane.

    Similarly, (and unlike eastern states) California seems to have an opposition to using and teaching the observance of Yield Signs in the on-coming ramps to freeways. Indeed, it seems that many drivers believe that the oncoming traffic has the right-of-way, rather than the other way around. While the right-of-way issue is mentioned in the booklet, it is certainly not emphasized, and is the cause of accidents with right-hand lane continuing traffic.

    These two issues seem to be linked, both in their encouragement of unsafe driving practices, but also in the widespread popular culture of California drivers.


    1. Add Yield signs to every on ramp, and not just at roundabouts. (Indeed most people don’t know what they mean, even there.)
    2. Emphasize in the DMV booklet the issues of Right-of-Way for existing freeway traffic at on-ramps, and the use of the left lane for any faster vehicles, driving at the speed limit or not.
    3. Work both of these concepts in the both the First-time and Remedial Drivers’ Education courses.

    What do you think?

  • #176653800

    Shelia at NMA

    Dear Enar,

    All great ideas–this sounds like the beginnings of a great guest blog for the NMA during Lane Courtesy Month. Contact me directly for more information–nma@motorists.org.

  • #176657663


    I don’t quite know how to reply to specific articles, but the response to my comments on Left Lane Courtesy was largely valid. I absolutely DO NOT OPPOSE drivers moving to the left lane as a courtesy to some entering from a ramp on the right, but again, the issue gets blurred due to the apparent lack of sufficient driver education, both new and remedial.

    Moving to the left must only be done when it is sufficiently safe to do so. Too often, I have observed, drivers in the right hand lane, think that, by law or due to ingrained habits, that they are required to move to the left, irrespective of the existing, usually faster traffic already in that lane.

    Again, it starts with education and revised habits of drivers, new and experienced, to know the basic rules and apply courtesy within the safe bounds of those rules.

  • #176657904

    Shelia at NMA

    Dear ENAR,

    Would you be interested in writing a guest blog post or newsletter on why drivers education is critical to change the mindset on lane courtesy? We always welcome pieces from our NMA members.

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