Keep Right, Let Others Pass. It’s the Law on BC Highways

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck behind a slow moving vehicle travelling in the left lane of a BC highway, chances are pretty good you know why this rule is in place. Slower-moving vehicles in the left lane not only reduce the efficiency of our highway system, they also cause frustration to many motorists trying to move more quickly. This results in aggressive and erratic driving behavior which is unsafe for everyone.

During our 2014 province-wide Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review , complaints about drivers “hogging” the left lane – despite direction in the Motor Vehicle Act that slow drivers should use the right lane, were a prominent theme. The safety of the travelling public is our primary goal, which is why we updated our legislation to give enforcement agencies and motorists alike more details about how this rule works on BC Highways.

Keep Right, Let Others Pass Legislation Prohibits Driving in the Left Lane unless a motorist is:

  • overtaking and passing another vehicle
  • moving left to allow traffic to merge
  • preparing for a left hand turn
  • passing a stopped official vehicle displaying red, blue or yellow flashing lights, such as: police cars, ambulances, tow trucks, maintenance or construction vehicles

Who Does the Rule Apply To?

The law applies to all motorists travelling on BC highways with two or more lanes of traffic travelling in the same direction and a posted speed limit of 80 km/h or greater.

Installing Keep Right
Signs demonstrating the law are in place across the province.  Line markings have also been changed and now direct traffic into the right lane. Please obey them and keep the rule in mind when travelling BC Highways. This law is fully supported by ICBC and provincial law enforcement agencies. Drivers failing to keep right can be fined $167 and three driver penalty points.

Do you have any questions or comments about this law? Let us know in the comments below and we will try to get you an answer. You can also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook or search out some Frequently Asked Questions.

Page 1 of 230 comments on “Keep Right, Let Others Pass. It’s the Law on BC Highways”

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  1. I’ve rarely been “stuck” behind someone doing below the posted speed limit. I think the issue that needs to be addressed and enforced is excessive speeding and tailgating. Harrassment on public roads is abundant in our province, and this just encourages execessive speeders/tailgaters into thinking they have the right to bully other drivers.

    • If you’ve never been stuck behind someone in the left lane then you’re probably part of the problem. This isn’t about adhering to the limit, it’s about traffic flow. If 8 out of 10 cars are doing 130 KMH and the 2 doing 110 are beside each other in 2 lanes then there will be problems. Part of the reason people tailgate is that they can’t get by a slow car (relative to the other traffic) stays in the left lane.

      • Right, and if the speed limit is 100kmh, why do the 8 out of 10 cars feel they need to go 130kmh? There is NO excuse for tailgating….it’s bullying…not to mention distracting to the driver that is being tailgated. Thanks for accusing me of being part of the problem…I appreciate being acknowledged for following the rules.

        • Tailgating is dangerous for everyone. At the same time, it’s safer for vehicles to avoid driving side-by-side if there is enough room on the road to avoid that formation.

          • I agree….vehicles shouldn’t travel side by side. And if you want to travel below the posted speed limit, you should move over to the right and let cars pass you. I’m against cars that expect you to move over even if you are traveling at the same rate as the other traffic, because they want to speed excessively. It’s the “all about me” mentality of a lot of drivers…and that’s a much bigger issue.

        • And therein lies the problem, you make it about speed and your obvious personal dislike of people who go faster than you. The RELATIVE speed of the vehicles is the issue here, not the absolute.

          All cars, going at whatever speed, should travel ONLY in the right lane. As long as you are going even slightly faster than the car in the right lane, you are technically passing and are therefore within your legal limit. When a driver needs to pass (for whatever reason), he needs access to the appropriate lane for the action required, regardless of his dalliance with a possible speeding ticket or your disapproval.

          Why is it bullying to ask you to do something you are legally supposed to do (stay right) but it is not bullying of you to force people to go YOUR speed? Unless you are a Peace Officer, you have no moral ground to stand on just because you disagree with someone breaking the speed limit (a totally different isusue). You blocking the left lane impacts at least one, while our speed causes no grief to you, all misbegotten consternation aside.

          • You are right, it is not bullying to ask people to do what is legally expected of them. It IS bullying however, when tailgating so close it’s putting everyone around you in danger, swerving, flashing high beams, showing signs of aggression and putting other drivers in dangerous situations.

          • What is wrong with all you claiming “bullying and tailgating”? Don’t want to be tailgated then simply stay in the right lane. Don’t want to speed or get a speeding ticket, then simply stay in the right lane, don’t want to be “bullied” (thats a new one!) then stay in the right lane.
            There is only one reason for any of you to pull into and block the left lane, because your wanna be “vigilantes” believing your like the police, or your doing the highway a favor. YOU are creating the scenario and the excuse for the aggressive driving and road Raging incidents, your no more entitled than the very speeders your blocking to be in that lane and turning driving rules into road rage incidents.

            If you see someone yelling while walking down the street do you go and yell at them? If someone is fighting do you jump in to stop them? Do you try to pick fights in the mall? NO, you walk away or (more likely run) but all of a sudden put you in a car and your wonder woman, or superman!
            So Sick of all you self entitled people, your not traffic enforcement or police, call them if you think someone’s doing something wrong like speeding because one day your dumb decision to hold back the speeders and tailgaters (why do you think they are tailgating you?) in the left lane may be your worst. People today are unpredictable and full of stress, I stay in the right lane because I know this, and you know what… I DONT get tailgated or rage thrown at me or “bullied” (which is the dumbest thing Ive heard in a long time) that is the solution and plain, simple truth!

        • “why do the 8 out of 10 cars feel they need to go 130kmh?”

          Because 130 km/h is safe to travel on that particular road.

          What you have described is the 85th percentile rule and has been known and understood for decades, though many regions paradoxically refuse to admit it exists.

          85% of the people will drive a speed that is safe and comfortable to them. In a sensible world, we would base our speed “limits” on the 85th percentile. No, if you set the speed of a road to 130, people will not do 150 or 170 “just because”. If people are doing 130 on a road, that’s what they’re comfortable doing, and if the road design doesn’t support it, they’ll get sorted out pretty quick (by crashing off the road or reducing their speed to what’s appropriate).

          Your province (I am in another part of the country) got sensible a few years ago and recognized that a lot of people were doing 120 safely on a number of highways, and they raised the posted speed to match. Other provinces’ administrators, when challenged to do the same, almost had heart attacks, not because it was unsafe, but because fine revenue would be reduced so much. Of course, they TOLD you it was out of a concern for safety, but if people are doing it safely in BC, what makes it unsafe in another province on a road designed the same way with the same materials?

          When the national 55MPH speed limit was repealed in the USA, states were allowed to increase their speed limits as they saw fit. Most of them have increased them to follow the 85th percentile. Montana experimented for a year or so with no speed limit, just “go a reasonable and prudent speed”, but saw too many yahoos coming to the state to do egregiously excessive speeds upwards of 100MPH, so they put in a limit of 75MPH (120 km/h) on interstate highways. Many American states are in the neighborhood of 70-75MPH with a few using 80MPH. There is a highway in Texas that is set to 85MPH (>135 km/h). On that highway, there are no cars flipping off into the trees on fire with dead bodies tumbling out of them, as opponents of higher speeds would have you believe. I drove that road several years ago and had a delightful experience where I was traveling at a safe, comfortable speed with drivers who were keenly attentive to their surroundings.

        • You’re right, there’s no excuse for tailgaiting. Also, if you see someone coming up behind you in the left hand lane going 130knh, there is no excuse for you to block that driver. and now it’s illegal to block other drivers, so if you want to toodle along at 100K, that’s great – but pull over and get out of my lane!

    • Vivien… do you ask yourself WHY you are being bullied and tailgated on the highway? If you are driving slowly in the passing lane, you are breaking the law and frustrating other drivers. If you pull over to the right hand lane and go the posted speed limit, you will have nothing to worry about. Why is this concept so difficult for people to wrap their heads around?

    • I completely agree! Tailgating is bullying and I am sick of jerks practically kissing my bumper…IN A SINGLE LANE AREA!!! I commute from Squamish to North Van every day, and every day have to put up with bullying jerks who think its ok to follow so close behind me, i worry for my bumper. And I’m not going speeding through Lion’s Bay or Britania Beach 40k over the 60kph limit just because they think it’s ok to drive like that.
      I agree that excessive speed and tailgaiting are far more hazardous than someone going 5k under (really rare).

      Question: If I’m doing, say 20k Over the limit, and some jerk wants to go 40k over the limit behind me, does this law apply?

      • Hi Deborah,

        Thanks for your comment. Yes. If you are travelling in the left lane, even above the speed limit, and someone approaches you from behind (even if they are travelling above your speed) you must move into the right lane. The left lane should only be used when passing slower moving vehicles in the right lane, when preparing to take a left turn, or when the right lane is obstructed (debris, working vehicles on the side of the road etc.). This law regulates the flow, or movement, of traffic only. The BC RCMP are responsible for ticketing vehicles travelling at excessive speeds. Hope that this helps.

  2. Does this mean that the 18 wheeler who pulls out to pass another 18 wheeler and is traveling 1km/hr faster than the vehicle it is trying to pass will get a ticket and lose points?

    • The worst thing with semis, is if they’re following another semi, and they get to a hill with a passing lane, they’ll pull into the passing lane, and hold everyone up, as they gradually bleed off their speed.. Then they’ll pull back into the slow lane, behind the other semi they were initially following.. Meanwhile, there’s a big line-up behind this ignoramus, as a km., or more may have passed by, before he gets back into the slow lane..
      We should have the same laws as down in the States, where the semis are restricted to a slower speed, and restricted to the right lanes..

  3. This is a fantastic idea. I don’t know how many times I’ve been stuck behind a motorist pacing the car beside them and not even doing the posted speed limit. It creates traffic backlog and frustration which in turn creates road rage and people need to be accountable for their actions. Well done!