The left lane on a highway is generally for drivers who are passing slower-moving traffic or turning left. Traveling below the speed limit in the left lane is a common pet peeve and something that can contribute to road rage incidents. Although the laws regarding who may travel in the left lane vary from state to state, it is wise to stay out of the left lane unless you are passing. Otherwise, you could expose yourself to personal safety risks.
Florida Left-Lane Driving Laws
The 2018 Florida Statutes Section 316.081 states that all drivers should stay in the right lanes of a roadway, except when passing another vehicle heading in the same direction, when an obstruction makes it necessary to drive to the left, or when driving a roadway for one-way traffic. The law also makes an exception on roadways divided into three marked lanes, when the rules applicable thereon will apply.
The law states that on a road or highway with two or more lanes of traffic in the same direction, a driver cannot stay in the left-hand lane if a faster vehicle is approaching him/her from behind. It also states that a vehicle proceeding slower than the normal flow of traffic under the conditions must drive in the right-hand lane, except to pass and overtake other vehicles proceeding in the same direction, or when taking a left turn at an intersection or private road.
Florida law, therefore, limits when a driver can use the left lane: only to pass, avoid an obstacle, or when there is not a faster vehicle approaching from behind on a multi-lane highway. Disobeying this law is a noncriminal traffic infraction in Florida, punishable with fines as a moving violation. Although Florida police do not often give tickets for driving slowly in the left lane, it could come with other risks – that of a car accident.
Left-Lane Driving and Car Accidents
The goal of Florida’s left-lane driving law is to keep traffic flowing smoothly and to help prevent backups and congestion. It is not only lawful to avoid the left lane as a Florida driver, but also a common courtesy to faster drivers. Ignoring this common courtesy and forcing faster drivers to sit behind you as a slower-moving vehicle can incite anger and lead to a road rage incident. The driver behind you may think you are intentionally trapping him/her behind you and may take it as a reason to get angry.
Road rage drivers let their emotions influence how they operate their vehicles. They may speed, tailgate, weave between lanes, shout, use rude hand gestures, or even follow another driver home. Road rage drivers are more likely to cause accidents and commit crimes than typical drivers. The best way to protect yourself from road rage drivers is to avoid triggers – such as driving too slowly in the fast lane. Avoid the left lane if you know you will be driving slower than the rest of the vehicles in that lane.
Even if you do not make the drivers behind you angry, you could present a hazard by driving too slowly in the left lane. Drivers moving much faster than you may not be able to brake in time to avoid rear-ending your vehicle, or may try to swerve around you into the right-hand lanes to pass. This could make the driver collide with other vehicles or disrupt the regular flow of traffic.
Liability for Left-Lane Accidents
If you illegally drive in the left lane and contribute to a car accident, you could share liability for damages. Although Florida is a no-fault state, someone could bring a car accident lawsuit against you if his/her car accident injuries are serious. You could end up paying for someone else’s medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Protect yourself and others by obeying the state’s left-lane driving laws.