After You Have Passed a Car You Should Return to the Right Lane When You Can See the Vehicle's Bumper in Your Rearview Mirror

November 4, 2023

After you have passed a car you should return to the right lane when you can see the vehicle's front bumper in your rearview mirror. This is important especially on highways where there are often multiple lanes of traffic and drivers that move slow.

Only under the following conditions is it permissible to pass a vehicle on the right:

If an oncoming or passing vehicle is coming within 200 feet (60 m) of you, or your view of that vehicle is completely obstructed by a hill, curve, intersection, bridge, tunnel, railroad crossing or other road obstruction.

You can safely pass a vehicle if there is a dotted line on the right side of the lane markings and if it's safe to do so without interfering with oncoming traffic. You must check your mirrors and blind spot to ensure that it's safe, and then signal your intention, speed up and complete the pass, swiftly looking over your shoulder in the direction of travel afterward.

It's illegal to drive in the left lane after passing on the right, and it could earn you up to 3 points on your license if you get pulled over. It's also annoying to the driver behind you who has to wait for you to move back into your lane, so take the time to look around and find an opportunity when it is safe to do so. Remember to use your turn signal whenever you change lanes, and always glance over your shoulder before moving back into the right lane.


Traffic Dave is on a mission to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.
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