Sounds simple enough, right?
In theory, yes. In application, no.
These signs are posted all across the country. Heck, they're even posted internationally. So, why is it so hard to grasp this concept of staying in the right lane unless you're overtaking someone?
This question boggles my mind since I witness motorists constantly defiling the aforementioned sign. Too often do people lollygag in the left lane with no regard for other commuters. Not only is it a road safety hazard, especially when at highway speeds, it also creates a hostile driving environment.
A couple of weeks back, I was riding a motorcycle in the left lane as I had just overtaken a vehicle on the right. I was then about to overtake the car in front of them when, for some unexplained reason, they changed into the left lane. There was no one in front of them as far as I could see. There was no hazard to move away from, no fear of hitting anything, no cyclists: nothing. I was baffled.
When behind the wheel, or handlebars, one of my self-imposed cardinal sins when driving/riding is passing on the right. Passing on the right teaches people that it's OK to hang out in the left lane because those who want to go around will, but that's not proper driving.
To give commuters in front of me a fair chance to move over before I honked, I flashed my high beams. Nothing happened. They just kept on keepin' on.
Then I honked to signal I wanted to pass. I received the middle finger from them and they still didn't do anything.
The worst frame of mind for me to be in when riding is angry/frustrated (scared would also make the top 5 list!), so I decided to let it go, sinned, and passed on the right.
It makes me wonder why people can be so stubborn behind the wheel. Are driving schools and instructors failing to do their job and teach their students this simple yet essential road rule? Possibly. But even if it's not taught in school -- or if it's forgotten -- there are signs almost everywhere. Maybe people aren't paying enough attention? I'm not sure. Whatever the reason, I plead with the general public to yield to the sign's prompting.
In Europe, drivers adhere to this rule quite well. They're a lot less forgiving if you're somewhere you're not supposed to be!
While recently driving along a three-lane highway in Austria, it wasn't necessarily busy, but the extreme left lane was empty. People were passing in the middle lane and then promptly moving to the extreme right lane. Same in Germany and Hungary. You pass on the left and drive on the right. That's just the way it goes.
In the U.S., you can get fined if you use the left lane and are not overtaking.
Regardless, those five magical words can save both you and fellow motorists a fair amount of headache and keep the roads safer.