Trooper’s Corner from Colorado State Patrol



Trooper’s Corner
Trooper John W. Bronniman
Right Lane or Left Lane? 

Frequently we are asked the question: “If there are two lanes for the same direction of travel, which one can I drive in?” To answer the question, we have to define the lanes and explain some possible circumstances. 

Lane Definitions: If there are two or more adjacent lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, the passing lane is the farthest lane to the left. All other lanes to the right of the passing lane are considered non-passing lanes. 

The law states you cannot drive in the passing lane of a highway where the speed limit is 65MPH or more unless:

• You are passing other motor vehicles that are in a non-passing lane
• You are turning left
• Unless the volume of traffic does not permit you to safely merge back into the non-passing lane. 

The other circumstance to consider is yielding the right-of-way to stationary emergency, towing, and maintenance/construction vehicles. The law states the driver “shall exhibit due care and caution”, if they approach a stationary emergency vehicle, that are using their emergency lights. Keep in mind emergency vehicles include: law enforcement vehicles, towing vehicles, and stationary or slow moving construction/maintenance vehicles. 

If there are two adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction on the same side of the highway where the stationary emergency vehicle is located, the driver is required yield the right-of-way by moving into a lane at least one moving lane apart from the emergency vehicle. This might require you to drive in the left or right lane, depending on the situation. However, if there is only one lane for your direction of travel, you “shall reduce and maintain a safe speed” as you approach and pass the emergency vehicle. 

One can see the circumstances dictate which lane a driver can use. Remember as you drive, scan down the roadway as far as you can see. This will enable you to react appropriately and cautiously, in the event you encounter a stationary emergency vehicle.


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