Many drivers have been in this situation: While driving on the highway, they find themselves behind two vehicles, one traveling in the left lane and one traveling in the right, at the same speed. While it is a frustrating situation to be in, you may have wondered whether passing a slow vehicle that is in the left lane is legal or safe.
Read on to discover what the law says about passing from the right on the highway, whether it is safe, and what you should do if you were hit and injured by a driver passing on the right.
What Are the Rules for Passing on the Highway in Indiana?
Section 9-21-8-5 of the Indiana Code stipulates that any person who drives a vehicle overtaking another vehicle traveling in the same direction must pass them on the left. Vehicles being overtaken must also give way and may only accelerate once the overtaking vehicle has completely passed them.
As neither driver is allowed to drive over the speed limit (defined in IC 9-21-5-2) even while overtaking, these rules suggest that drivers on the right lane should moderate their speed to allow vehicles on the left lane to pass them safely and lawfully.
Section 9-21-5-9 states that vehicles traveling on highways with at least two lanes at speeds less than the established maximum must use the right lanes to preserve traffic flow.
Drivers in the left lane who know that another vehicle is attempting to pass them must stop using the left lane to let the other vehicle pass them. Per subsection (d), failure to do so is a traffic violation and a Class C infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
In other words, drivers should stay to the right and only use the left lane when passing. The driver who remains in the left lane and prevents other drivers from lawfully passing them on the left is the one who is breaking the law.
Exceptions to the Rule
Section 9-21-5-9(c) of the Indiana Code specifies a few exceptions where it is legal for a typical driver to use the leftmost lane:
- Congestion or traffic conditions forcing drivers to remain in the left lane
- Poor weather, road obstructions, and other hazards requiring drivers to use the left lane for their safety
- Exiting a roadway or turning left, where legal
- While paying a toll
- When instructed by local laws, ordinances, traffic control devices, or other regulations
Can I Pass a Slow Vehicle Driving in the Left Lane?
According to Section 9-21-8-6 of the Indiana Code, when driving on a roadway or highway with at least two lanes, it is lawful for a driver to overtake another, slower vehicle on the right, provided the conditions allow them to do so safely.
While not expressly illegal, passing on the right can be risky, as the right lane is primarily intended for vehicles traveling under, rather than at, the speed limit. It also congests traffic, especially if cars are trying to enter or exit the highway on that side.
What Can I Do if Another Driver Collided with Me While Passing on the Right?
If you were injured on the highway by a reckless driver and noticed them trying to pass you or another vehicle on the right before doing so, gathering evidence of their behavior can help you strengthen your case.
Common types of accidents that can occur in this situation include:
- The at-fault driver sideswipes your vehicle as they attempt to pass you on the right
- The at-fault driver passes your vehicle and hits the brakes unexpectedly (brake-checks you), causing a rear-end crash
- The at-fault driver rear-ends your vehicle while passing another from the right
Evidence You Can Gather to Prove Liability
If you were injured in an accident by a driver passing you from the right, you can use specific evidence to prove the at-fault driver’s negligence and increase the chances of maximizing your compensation.
- Call your local police precinct or contact the Indiana State Police and ask for a copy of the police report. A report showing a law enforcement officer has ticketed the driver for aggressive driving or unsafely passing on the right is one of the most effective ways to support your claim.
- Video footage of the accident showing the at-fault driver unsafely passing on the right, such as dash cam footage, can help you support your claim and demonstrate their negligent behavior.
- Witness statements from other drivers or passers-by stating they have witnessed the other driver passing unsafely from the right can also help you prove your claim.
Speak to a Wagner Reese Car Accident Lawyer in Indiana Today
Were you injured in a highway accident by a reckless driver trying to pass you on the right? If so, you may be eligible for compensation. Wagner Reese’s team of experienced Indiana auto accident attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
With more than 150 years of combined experience, we have been protecting the rights of accident victims throughout Indiana. If another person’s negligence has injured you, contact us today for a free case evaluation.