What is the general rule around two-lane bypasses and the use of lanes? Given we’re soon to have two more, I think this is important. In the UK you use the right lane for faster cars, and the inside lane for slower vehicles (unless you’re approaching a roundabout etc and are taking a third exit). You shouldn’t have a truck in the fast lane, and you shouldn’t be using it if you’re going to go under the recommended speed limit. Here though you have people sitting in the outside lane, forcing others to undertake (another question, is that illegal too?). Is there any guidance?
Auntie’s answer: You touch on a lot of points in your question. I’ll do my best to address what I can, thanks to the help of both the National Roads Authority and the RCIPS.
The Road Code, which you can find starting on page 10 of The Traffic Control Regulations, 2012, addresses overtaking on a divided highway or multi-lane roadway. The code says, “Use the right-hand lane for overtaking or turning right. As soon as practicable after overtaking, you are to move back to the left lane. Additionally, both lanes can be used independently for two-way traffic in the same direction as directed by traffic signs or road markings.”
What that means is that while you can use the right lane for overtaking, drivers are free to use both lanes, but either way the speed limit must be obeyed.
While on the subject of speed limit, The Road Code also says that it is “an offence to drive too slowly, thereby obstructing the free flow of traffic”. This is set out in Section 68 (i) of The Traffic Law, which says a driver shall “avoid obstructing other vehicles whether the vehicle under control is moving or stationary”.
The law does not specify what speed below the limit would be considered an offence; the important point is not to obstruct traffic.
As for undertaking, which is passing another vehicle on the left side, I was not able to find anything in the law or the code that makes that an offence, though the diagrams in the The Road Code do indicate a car in the right lane of a two-lane roadway doing the overtaking.
The documents mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library