In New Jersey the left lane of a two lane road (when both lanes are going in the same direction, of course) is only for drivers who are passing. That means if you’re cruising along, minding your own business, you better be doing it in the right hand lane.

Unfortunately not all drivers know this law, or, if they do, they simply ignore it. The law is pretty clear, however, even printed in the New Jersey Driver’s Manual: The left lane is only for passing. Violators face a possible citation and fine of $100, although the law is not regularly enforced.

Why do New Jersey drivers need to keep right except when they are passing? Well, to keep traffic controlled and flowing, for one. If drivers ride side by side, and decided to do so at a minimum speed, other drivers who are moving at a faster rate cannot get by them. This impedes traffic. And the northeastern United States is known for having high levels of traffic, so anything that can help alleviate the problem is a boon to everyone.

Another good reason to leave the left lane clear is so emergency vehicles always have a clear lane to get to their destination without the need to wait for a drive to move over.

Driving in the left lane is really just a case of someone doing whatever they want just because they can. It’s rude to other drivers and not an example of common sense, defensive driving.

Last summer New Jersey state Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) introduced legislation increase the maximum penalty for violation of the “keep right” law from $100 to $300. He also suggested a portion of the fees collected be put into a fund to purchase “move over” signs for posting along roadways as a reminder to drivers who might be unaware of the law, or just forgetful. It might also provide an impetus for police to begin enforcing the law for public safety reasons.

In the meantime, if you drive in New Jersey be certain you do it in the right hand lane or risk a fine and the ire from other drivers who can’t get past you.

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