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Highway driving; you’re doing it wrong. Probably

Highway driving, we all do it. Odds are, you’re probably doing it wrong. Driving is a popular thing to do, and is easily one of the most common ways to get around. It seems there are as many ideas of how to drive as there are people driving on the road. Despite some attempt to bring some standards to how we learn to drive, we still suck at it.

While it’s difficult to prove, we can all probably think of at least one time we had to endure traffic simply because of bad driving. Freeways and multi-lane highways can be a bit of a challenge, what with all those lanes.

Typically, people look at highways this way

wrong highway lanes

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The slow lane. The middle lane. The fast lane.

If there’s more than three lanes, those are just more middle lanes. The fast lane is always on one side, the slow lane on the other.

When I first got my license, I took a common approach to highways. If I was going a certain speed, then I was entitled to a certain lane. I had randomly assigned speed ranges to each lane, and stuck to ‘em. Everybody else on the highway had done the same thing. None of our ranges were the same. Common sense suggests you move out of the way when fast traffic comes, yet in my mind, I was in the right lane for my speed.

But, that’s not how highway driving works.

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This is the correct way to look at a highway

right highway lanes

The driving lane

This is the primary place for traffic to drive. It’s where you should be by default. Regardless of your speed or the road, this is the driving lane. This is where you drive.

A passing lane

Any extra lanes to the left are for passing only. On freeways, you can also pop over into the passing lane to give people getting on the highway space. But, when you’re done passing, get thee back into the driving lane!

What about the rest of the lanes? Well, because highways get busy, there are extra passing lanes. In practice, the far left lanes should rarely get used. Those are for extra special passing situations. Don’t hang out in these lanes for long. If you do, you’ll force faster traffic around you. Pass in the passing lanes, drive in the driving lanes.

Which brings me to a phrase every highway driver should memorize:

If you get passed on the right, move to the right.

When it’s safe to, of course. Why? Because, if you’re going too slow and forcing people to pass you in the driving lane, you’re in the wrong lane. There are so many situations where I’ve found the best place to pass on the highway is the driving lane. Nobody wants to be caught dead in the slow lane. It’s not the slow lane. It’s the driving lane. Drive in it! Highway driving will flow so much better if everybody looked at roads this way.

To recap. This is not how highway lanes are arranged. There is no slow lane. There is no fast lane. Instead, always remember there is a driving lane, and everything else are passing lanes. The driving lane is for driving, the passing lanes are for passing.

Most of all, remember:

If you get passed on the right, move to the right.

Happy highway driving, everybody.

About Dan Croutch

Dan is a freelance automotive writer and YouTuber (DanDrives). He enjoys all things pickup trucks, classic cars and minivans (really). Fascinated by technology and cars. EV hopeful, but slightly skeptic. He blogs at http://dan.croutch.ca occasionally, tweets @dcroutch obsessively.

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