Traveling on one of Ohio’s many state and interstate highways is often an adventure, and not the kind you look forward to. Whether you are a resident of the Buckeye State or you travel here from neighboring states, you have likely found yourself dealing with all kinds of traffic hazards, including texting drivers, reckless drivers and speeders.

Perhaps you prefer to stay as careful as possible, coasting along in the far left lane where it is less crowded and you can maintain a safe speed. However, did you know that misusing the left lane is a traffic violation that may result in negative consequences?

The passing lane is for passing

Ohio, along with many other states, reserves the left lane for passing vehicles only. Cruising in the left lane, especially while driving below the posted speed limit, is a violation of state statutes. The reasons why lawmakers established this rule include the following:

  • If you are traveling in the left lane at or below the posted speed, drivers to your right may not be able to safely pass vehicles in front of them, creating a traffic jam.
  • Other drivers may have to slow down and change lanes multiple times to get around you if you drive in the left lane. Each lane change and change of speed increases the chance of an accident.
  • Studies show that driving 5 mph slower than the flow of traffic may be more dangerous than driving 5 mph faster than the posted speed limit.
  • If you travel in the passing lane, you may be the cause of other drivers’ road rage, which often results in accidents.

Even if you are driving the posted speed, you may not be driving the same speed as the flow of traffic. Some drivers do this as a way of teaching others on the road to obey the speed limits, but it often leads to dangerous situations. It may also lead to you receiving a citation for unsafe driving.

In some circumstances, you may have no choice but to travel in the left lane. For example, emergency vehicles may be on the right shoulder, or you may be planning to take an upcoming left exit. Otherwise, police may consider you to be a hazard and pull you over. If officers issue you a ticket for driving in the passing lane, you may want to discuss your situation with a skilled attorney before agreeing to pay a fine.