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.

When Is It Illegal To Pass Another Vehicle

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.

When Can You Pass A Car On A Two Lane Road?

If all other conditions are safe, crossing the opposite lane for a pass can be done when the dividing yellow line is dashed instead of solid.

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?

You’re cruising down a two-lane highway when you see a chance to pass a slower car. But who has the right of way? 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.

However, the responsibility doesn’t fall solely on them. As the driver initiating the pass, you must ensure it’s safe. Check for oncoming traffic – you need clear visibility for a good distance. Don’t just glance quickly, a blind spot could hide a car coming the other way. Once you’re sure it’s clear, accelerate decisively to get around the slower car quickly. Don’t dawdle in the oncoming lane, and be sure to return to the right lane promptly without cutting off the car you just passed.

Using The Right Lane To Pass

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.

“Move Over” Law Indiana

Indiana’s Move Over Law prioritizes the safety of roadside workers and first responders. This law applies on all roadways, including highways with multiple lanes traveling in the same direction. It aims to protect law enforcement officers, emergency responders, and highway workers from being struck by passing vehicles while performing their duties on the roadside.

When approaching authorized emergency vehicles, tow trucks, sanitation trucks, or highway maintenance vehicles with flashing lights activated, drivers must take action:

  • Move over: If possible, safely change lanes away from the emergency vehicle. This creates a buffer zone of at least one lane width and protects those working on the roadside.
  • Slow down: If changing lanes isn’t safe due to traffic, slow down considerably and increase the distance between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle. Don’t endanger yourself or others by swerving abruptly.

Following the Move Over Law is a simple yet significant way for drivers to contribute to a safer environment for everyone on the road. It’s a reminder to be considerate and aware of vulnerable workers near roadways.

Laws on Passing on the Right in Other States

Passing on the right is regulated differently across various states in the U.S., emphasizing the need for drivers to understand local laws when traveling between jurisdictions. In contrast to Indiana, where passing on the right is generally permitted under safe conditions, states like Massachusetts and Pennsylvania restrict this maneuver to specific situations, such as when the vehicle in the left lane is turning left or traffic is congested.

States such as Texas and California allow passing on the right on multi-lane highways if done safely and within the speed limit. Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey have stricter regulations, generally prohibiting passing on the right except when overtaking a vehicle that is making a left turn. 

Always check the specific traffic laws of the state you’re driving in. Most states have their Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website readily accessible online. These websites provide clear information on passing regulations and other driving laws. If you’re unsure about the legality of a maneuver in another state, or if you’ve been involved in an accident due to someone else’s violation of passing laws in Indiana, consider consulting skilled accident attorneys.

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.

While this list provides helpful tips, navigating personal injury claims can be complex.  For a comprehensive evaluation of your case and to explore your legal options, consider contacting experienced accident attorneys. They’ll guide you through the legal process and fight to secure the compensation you deserve.

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.