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Behind-the-Wheel

Keep right except to pass

Left-lane hogs were back in the news again this week.

The CTV Vancouver news story that I watched complained that drivers were not being held to account by police for failing to move out of the left lane and letting other drivers pass.

The report claims that based on ticket numbers reported by ICBC, the number of drivers ticketed for failing to keep right fell from 799 in 2016 to 699 in 2018.

Overhead views of traffic taken from a helicopter showed vehicles in the left lane moving at the speed of surrounding traffic being overtaken and not moving to the right.

There was no indication of how fast these vehicles were actually moving or what the speed limit was.

Special mention was made of one driver who followed along at a dangerously close position in the hope of bulldozing the vehicle in front out of the way.

Prior to the most recent changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, police relied on section 150 (2) of the Motor Vehicle Act when drivers failed to keep right for slower traffic.

According to information furnished by ICBC, drivers are very seldom charged under this section with numbers ranging from a high of 24 in 2015 to a low of 11 in 2017.

Enacted in 2015, section 151.1 clarified the use of the "leftmost lane" by slower traffic. This section also seems to be rarely used, with a high of 150 in 2016 and a low of 90 in 2017.

Depending on the situation, either section may be used to penalize a driver today.

Judging by the numbers in the news story, it appears that what was being quoted were tickets issued under section 150(1) MVA. It deals with a driver's duty to keep to the right side of the roadway in general, rather than for not moving out of the way for faster vehicles specifically.

The opinions expressed in the story and encountered over my policing experience are interesting. The one that caused me the most difficulty was that of the traffic court justice I regularly appeared in front of who told me in no uncertain terms that no conviction would ever result under section 150(2) if the driver in the left lane was travelling at the speed limit.

I never tested it as those drivers were few and far between. What I saw most often was the bulldozer trying to exceed the speed limit. I considered it to be the more dangerous behaviour and that is what I wrote.

This might be a view shared by many traffic enforcement officers as tickets for following too closely ranged from 2,500 in 2014 to 2,000 in 2017.

Odd that our legislature would enact a law that facilitates the disobedience of speed limits...

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/aggressive-driving/keep-right-except-pass

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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