Why should you move to the left lane on the highway if you are driving at the speed limit?

Question:

I would like to know if someone can supply me with the exact Transport Legislation that states: “A driver travelling at the speed limit in the right hand lane of a national highway must give way to an approaching driver when the approaching driver flashes their headlights”?  If this legislation actually exists that is…

Answer:

Oh no!  Not this ridiculous non-debate again!

Of course there is no legislation that verbatim says: “A driver travelling at the speed limit in the right hand lane of a national highway must give way to an approaching driver when the approaching driver flashes their headlights” in that exact fashion, but this is not a bad précis of what the National Road Traffic Act actually says.

Regulation 323(5) states: “Where the driver of a motor vehicle which is being driven in the right-hand traffic lane or in the traffic lane furthest to the right on a freeway (hereinafter referred to as the first vehicle) becomes aware that the driver of another motor vehicle (hereinafter referred to as the second vehicle) intends to overtake the first vehicle, the driver of the first vehicle shall steer that vehicle to a lane to the left of the one in which he or she is driving, without endangering himself or herself or other traffic or property on the freeway, and shall not accelerate the speed of his or her vehicle until the second vehicle has passed.”

Regulation 323(6) then goes on to state: “For the purposes of subregulation (5) the driver of the second vehicle may make the driver of the first vehicle aware that he or she intends to overtake the first vehicle by giving the driver thereof a visible signal by means of flashing the headlights of his or her vehicle.”

Now when you take these two regulations and condense them to a simple to understand phrase, you reach something pretty close to what Gary has summed it up as being, except that it can be argued that it does not only apply to the outermost lane on a freeway.  It’s just like the entire provision of regulation 296 of the National Road Traffic Regulations, which comprises 145 words can be summed up to read: “Keep left – Pass right”, which only comprises four whole words.

What concerns me the most about questions like this is that they usually originate from people who consider themselves to be a bit more than “law abiding citizens” – they consider themselves to be allowed to act as law enforcers by obstructing other motor vehicles which may flash their lights at them on a freeway by refusing to move over.  This is not only dangerous but an offence in that wilfully obstructing other traffic; whether or not you regard it to be breaking the law as you understand it is an offence.

If one feels that another motorist is acting contrary to good driving practices on the road, the smart thing to do is to get out of their way as quickly as possible and report them to the authorities.  You can report bad driving to 0861 400 800 and if that person had a valid reason for driving as they did, then let them explain it to the authorities.  But don’t act as the judge, jury and executioner by obstructing them as that is neither your right, nor a sensible thing to do from the perspective of ensuring your own safety.  After all, how can one know if the vehicle flashing it’s lights at you on a freeway is not conveying a critically injured child to the Trauma Unit in a hospital, or for that matter if the vehicle is conveying armed criminals who have just robbed a cash in transit vehicle and wouldn’t think twice about shooting you?

I equate motorists who drive in the outer lane of a freeway and then refuse to act courteously and lawfully by moving over to make way for a faster moving vehicle as engaging in aggressive driving tactics and anyone who thinks about it reasonably should agree that this is a stupid and dangerous thing to do.  Aggressive driving practices often lead to very serious consequences including “road rage” and/or crashes and it is never a good idea to engage in aggressive driving.

Best Regards,

Howard Dembovsky

National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)

2 thoughts on “Why should you move to the left lane on the highway if you are driving at the speed limit?

  • August 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm
    Permalink

    My pet gripe on the road. The driver asking his question is exactly the problem on the road creating traffic jams

  • October 28, 2014 at 11:15 am
    Permalink

    Your summary is horribly incorrect: “Keep left – Pass right”. There are many aggressive drivers who believe in this moto, endangering the lives of their fellow drivers. It must be: “Keep left – Pass right – On a Freeway”.

Comments are closed.

Pin It on Pinterest