What you believe may be wrong
Almost everybody knows the basic laws and safety rules of passing: watch out for oncoming traffic, don’t cross double yellow lines, and don’t cut in front of the vehicle you just passed.
But it’s odds-on that you buy into one or more of three little myths about passing that can you actually get you into a heap of trouble. We’re here to shatter these shibboleths in order to help keep you on the straight and narrow – and in one piece – when you consider getting around the next slow poke you encounter on the road.
Myth Number One: It’s legal to speed while passing
The whole point of passing is to get by the car in front of you. And this, obviously, means speeding up and going faster. But there’s a trap: your need to get by lickety-split doesn’t overrule the speed limit. Forget about the left lane being the “fast lane” – when you’re speeding, you’re speeding, regardless of whether anybody is on the road.
Myth Number Two: A two-way center lane is for passing
Some busy roads have a center lane available for vehicles travelling in either direction. Its primary purpose is to provide drivers who want to make a left turn a place to wait for a break in traffic without causing a backup. What it most definitely is not is a passing lane. Using it that way isn’t only illegal, it’s dangerous and dumb: there are fewer better ways to ask for a head-on collision, much less a ticket.
Myth Number Three: Signal late (or not at all) so nobody can cut you off
Judging from the drivers we see on multi-lane highways, it’s widely believed that if your signal your intention to pull into the left lane to pass, you’re just asking somebody behind you to speed up and block your move.
In fact, signaling in advance of a passing maneuver is not only a legal requirement, in many places you have to signal at least 100 feet before you start to pass. That’s about two seconds on a high-speed roadway, and four seconds on a slower route. Your signal is decrease your chances of a collision, so cheating here just increases your chances of becoming a statistic.