Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Right Lane Passing Clarification ... From The Twilight Zone

I know I've covered the topic of slow people (literally and figuratively) driving in the left lane of an interstate freeway, but I haven't yet written about another Rhode Island staple: passing a vehicle on the right on an interstate freeway. On most trips up and down I-95 or I-295 in Rhode Island, I suddenly find myself in a parallel universe: a universe in which turn signals don't exist; a universe in which the norm is to pass vehicles on the right (despite plenty of space to do so on the left). In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, I don't care for that parallel universe called "The Rhode Island Motoring Experience," and in case you're shouting "Then move out of state already you elitist a-hole!" please go ahead and establish the Relocate Johnny Fund. As soon as you raise 100 grand (not the delicious candy bar, but I'll take one of those), send it on over, and the wife and I will call in the Gentle Giant and truck our butts to Boise. For now, though, let's get back to that Rhode Island Driver's Manual.

On page 23, find item "J. Passing Another Vehicle":

"• Passing a vehicle on the left:

On multiple lane highways, the law requires you to use the left lane to pass and the right lane for normal driving."

'Nuff said?

"But, Johnny, you're only doing half the job. You need to floss too, every day. Er, I mean, what about the next section: Passing a vehicle on the right?"

"Gosh, mister, my teeth feel cleaner!" I say. Er, uh, yeah let's talk about that next section (at the top of page 24).

"A driver may pass on the right of another vehicle only as follows:

1. When the motor vehicle ahead is making or about to make a left turn.

2. On a street or highway that is wide enough for two or more lanes of traffic with no obstructions and not occupied by parked vehicles.

3. On a one-way street or roadway wide enough for two or more lanes of traffic and free of obstructions or parked vehicles."

Finally! Some good ol' fashioned Rhode Island legal ambiguity!

Please debate this in the comments section, but I read the section to mean that condition 1 MUST be met as a basis for any pass on the right. Beyond the necessary motor vehicle ahead that is making or about to make a left turn, you MUST have enough room to the right of said vehicle to safely fit. I.E., You must be able to realistically imagine (there's a wonderful oxymoron), or should I say "conservatively imagine," a lane wide enough to accommodate your vehicle's passing of the car making the left turn. Furthermore, you can't use your imagination to rid reality of that huge f-ing orange pylon (A.K.A. "Snirk" or "Snoil" in my family), baby carriage, or broken-down Hummer that blocks your path past the car making the left turn. Condition 3 is redundant to condition 2, so just ignore it.

Although technically arguable, condition 2 does not intend to give you permission to pass cars on the right on a multiple-lane road, highway, or freeway, as Section J already told you not to do so. Let's compromise with this: It's ok to pass left lane travellers on the right ONLY after giving those travellers reasonable time to move over to the right and allow you to pass properly on the left. Let them know you're behind them. Give them a headlight flash, and wait 3 seconds. Make sure they're not in the process of passing. All I ask is that you at least encourage people to drive correctly before you yourself bend the rules. Be an activist driver, and, above all, DON'T WEAVE RECKLESSLY BETWEEN VEHICLES. You're not impressing anyone, douche nozzle.

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