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Ask A Trooper: Passing on the right is dangerous

Question: I live in a rural area near a highway where I see people passing on the right literally all the time.

I see this in many places and they are doing this at major intersections, too. Cars don’t even slow down, they just blow around the left turning vehicle using the turn lane and I have seen a lot of near crashes because of it. Can you please talk about this issue of passing on the right before someone else gets killed. I think it is very serious and something needs to be done. Thanks for whatever you can do.

Answer: This is something I talk and write about a lot, but I know it is still a problem. Officers have attended many serious and fatal crash scenes because of passing on the right. People apparently don’t realize how dangerous this is, and some probably don’t realize it’s against the law.

When you “boil down” the passing on the right law, (M.S.S. 169.18 subdivision 4) there are primarily two places you can legally pass on the right.

One place is on a multi-lane highway; if someone is blocking the left lane you can pass them in the right lane.

About the only other place you can legally pass on the right is when there is a passing lane specifically provided (like you see on a lot of two-lane roads) to go around a left-turning vehicle.

Make no mistake about it, you can never (and should never) pass on the right using the shoulder (whether paved or unpaved, marked or unmarked) or turn lanes. Drivers who think they need to are in too big of a hurry and are probably following too close and/or not paying close enough attention to the road.

We all need to work together to create a traffic safety culture on our Minnesota roadways.

We can do this by taking personal responsibility for our own actions behind the wheel.

— Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is with the Minnesota State Patrol