Tag Archives: Keep Right except

The ‘Keep Right’ law and multi-lane highways

The in basket: After Gary Reed got pulled over and warned about camping in the inside lane of Highway 16, which has two lanes in each direction for most of its length, he wrote me to say, ” I’ve seen signs along multi-lane highways like I-90 that say to ‘Keep right except to pass.’ Why are we taxed billions of dollars to build super highways when we’re only allowed to travel in the right lane? I get the two-lane (highways), but not three or more in the same direction.”

The out basket:  I asked Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol how drivers should apply the prohibition of driving in the left-lane to freeways with more than two lanes in each direction, and he said “the far left lane (is) the left lane you need to stay out of unless passing slower traffic.

“The HOV lane is not considered the left lane.”

He also reminded me of the state law on this matter (RCW 46.61.100), which permits use of the inside general purpose lane for purposes other than passing.

“Upon all roadways having two or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction,” it says, “all vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, except (a) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, (b) when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow, (c) when moving left to allow traffic to merge, or (d) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection, exit, or into a private road or driveway when such left turn is legally permitted.

“It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic.”

I think (a) and (b) above mean the same thing and © mostly applies when making room for traffic entering a freeway.