KEEP LEFT: Motorists who hog the righthand lane on multi-lane roads cause frustration and can impede emergency vehicles.
KEEP LEFT: Motorists who hog the righthand lane on multi-lane roads cause frustration and can impede emergency vehicles. Brett Wortman

Road rule mythbuster: Left is right, right?

DRIVERS who failed to keep left on multi-lane roads were slapped with more than $6000 in fines last year.

The often misunderstood rules about overtaking and keeping left is the focus of this week's Road Rule Rumours column.

Not only are slow drivers in the overtaking lane frustrating, but acting Sergeant Mark Johnston said they could spark road rage.

"Failing to keep left on a multi-lane road is one road rule that many motorists encourage police to enforce and it is also a road rule that many people don't understand or realise is there," Sgt Johnston said.

"I've found from experience a large number of reported road rage incidents occurring on highways are the result of a driver travelling slowly in the right hand lane on a multi-lane road, preventing other vehicles from overtaking slower moving vehicles.

"Drivers become frustrated and tend to travel too close to the vehicle in front in an attempt to force the vehicle to change into the left hand lane."

When the speed limit is greater than 80kmh (90 to 11kmh) on a multi-lane road, the driver must not travel in the right hand lane unless overtaking, turning right, making a u-turn, avoiding an obstacle or driving in congested traffic.

This rule can apply to speed zones less than 90kmh, when there is a sign saying, "keep left unless overtaking".

Drivers who are unnecessarily travelling in the right hand lane can be slapped with a $66 fine and lose two demerit points.

Last year 97 drivers were issued fines for the offence on the Sunshine Coast.

On a three-lane road, drivers can travel in the middle lane, and can only travel in the far right lane if they meet the criteria listed above.

Overtaking on the left is okay on a multi-lane road.

"By keeping the right hand lane open, it allows for better traffic flow and also allows a clear path for emergency vehicles when responding to urgent calls," Sgt Johnston said.

The fines

  • Failure to keep left on multi-lane road where speed is greater than 80kmh $265, two demerit points
  • Failing to keep a safe distance from a vehicle when overtaking the vehicle $159, two demerit points
  • Following too closely to the vehicle in front $265, one demerit point
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