National Motorists Association Declares June “Lane Courtesy Month”

May 2011

Earlier this week, the National Motorists Association (NMA) designated June, one of the busiest driving periods of the summer, as Lane Courtesy Month. Lane courtesy is the practice of yielding or moving over for faster moving traffic on multi-lane roads. When all motorists adhere to the principles of lane courtesy, traffic flows more freely, uniformly, and therefore more safely.

It only takes a single motorist hunkered down in the left lane, whether intentionally or not, to tie up traffic for dozens of others on the road. Many do not realize that most states have lane courtesy (or “keep right”) laws that deem such action to be an infraction, regardless of whether the offending driver is traveling within the posted speed limit. Those laws recognize that the artificial restriction of traffic by a driver in the left lane raises the potential for congested stop-and-go traffic and even for episodes of tailgating and road rage.

Lane courtesy is easily implemented. Drivers should keep the left lane clear unless passing a slower moving vehicle, and then should move back into the right lane as soon as practical.

There are several key benefits realized when highway travelers practice lane courtesy:

Accidents Are Less Likely: When drivers are not obstructed, there is less accelerating, decelerating, and sudden lane changing. Smoother traffic flow translates into safer traffic flow. Vehicle gas mileage also improves.

You’ll Get To Your Destination Faster: Yielding to faster traffic reduces congestion, allowing highway capacity to be utilized to its fullest.

You’ll Get To Your Destination In A Better Mood: There is little doubt that “left lane hogs” are a source of irritation for many drivers. The courteous act of moving to the right can eliminate driver stress and conflict.

As we head into a high volume travel period on the nation’s highways, adherence to lane courtesy is a vital safety factor. So too is proper lane merging, because road construction projects are prevalent during summer highway travel.

Correct methods of lane merging, per the Federal Highway Administration, are simple but often misunderstood by many motorists. When approaching a lane closure with traffic at nearly free-flow conditions, it is best to merge as soon as the opportunity presents itself by filling gaps in the traffic without noticeable acceleration or deceleration. If traffic has already slowed to a stop-and-go mode, it is best to fill both lanes to the fullest and then merge one vehicle at a time at the lane closure point in a descriptively-named maneuver called zipper-merging.

When more drivers practice lane courtesy and proper lane merging techniques, highway travel will be safer for all.