When May a California Driver Travel Other than in the Right Lane?
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When May a California Driver Travel Other than in the Right Lane?

Friday, August 11, 2017By Richard Alexander

In the state of California, drivers are required to travel in the right lane of traffic. This may not seem like a big news flash. But did you know that there are instances in which it is acceptable to drive in a lane other than the right lane?

In some cases, it is acceptable for a vehicle to travel in the left lane of the road or on the shoulder to the right of the right lane for extended periods of time. This exception is only allowed under very specific circumstances.

For example, if there is road construction that has forced a closure of the right lane, traffic may be redirected to travel in either the left lane or the road shoulder to allow for continued travel during the construction period. The traffic may be redirected by the construction crews and it is important, in these circumstances, that a driver follows construction signs and construction workers directing traffic. Do not simply decide to drive in any lane you like just because construction has closed down the right lane of traffic.

A reason that it may be acceptable for a driver to travel along in the shoulder lane, to the right of the right lane, is if you are operating a vehicle that is moving so slowly that it would impede traffic. That right shoulder, “adjacent to the right edge of the roadway may be utilized temporarily when in a condition permitting safe operation.”

Slow moving vehicles and bicyclists may travel in this shoulder lane to avoid causing a slowdown of the traffic behind. California law “does not prohibit the operation of bicycles on any shoulder of a highway, on any sidewalk, on any bicycle path within a highway, or along any crosswalk or bicycle path crossing, where the operation is not otherwise prohibited by this code or local ordinance.

Sometimes it is acceptable to travel in the left lane temporarily when driving. For example, in order to make a left-hand turn, a driver will have to cross through the left lane of travel in order to complete his or her turn. While that is an acceptable maneuver, it is important to first yield to oncoming traffic in that left lane to avoid a vehicle crash.

It is also acceptable to travel in the left lane if you are legally passing another vehicle or a bicycle permitted on the highway in the right lane. Traveling in the left lane to pass slower moving vehicles, including bicycles, is acceptable during the time that it takes to pass and safely return to the right lane without cutting off the driver that has been passed.

Obviously, in California, the lane of travel for drivers is the right lane. While there are some situations which will require drivers to travel in the left lane or right shoulder lane, it is important to note that a person should make sure that there is no oncoming traffic in the other lanes before a lane switch is made. Slow down as necessary to make sure any lane changes are being done safely so as not to put yourself or any other drivers, passengers, or bicyclists in danger of colliding with your vehicle.

If you or someone you know suffered a serious injury in a vehicle crash with a driver who wrongly deviated from the right lane, please contact Alexander Law Group, LLP immediately to discuss your rights. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.

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