'It's stupid': Confusion reigns over overtaking road-rule question

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A road rule question has evoked fury and confusion.

Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads pictured several cars on a three-lane road posing a question to people on Facebook.

A yellow car is in the left lane, a blue one is in the middle and an orange car is behind it. They are in a 100km/h zone.

“The driver of the blue car is not overtaking the yellow car—so is it okay for them to remain in the middle lane?” 

Is the blue car able to stay in the middle lane? Source: Department of Transport and Main Roads

However, people seemed divided on the answer.

One man answered no but changed his answer to yes.

“You need to keep left unless overtaking,” one woman wrote.

Another man wrote “an overwhelming amount of the population know this rule but choose to ignore it”.

“Some people are saying yes, some are saying no. When are people going to go and get educated on road rules?” another man wrote.

Another man called the law “stupid”.


The rules for overtaking

Mick Humphries, general manager of the Australian Drivers Training Association, told Yahoo News Australia drivers can use the middle lane in three-lane motorways.

“But if they want to use the far right lane, they can only move into it for the purposes of overtaking,” he said.

“Or if there’s an emergency such as if there’s a crash or something blocking their lane.”

According to Queensland’s road rules, if the speed limit is 90km/h or more drivers have to keep left unless overtaking.

It’s also acceptable to be in the right lane if turning right, avoiding an obstruction on the road, driving in congested traffic or making a u-turn.

Driving in the middle lane on motorways

However, in the example shown it’s a three-lane motorway so it’s acceptable for the blue car to remain in the middle. Traffic can always overtake the blue car in the right lane.

It’s the same in NSW too, with Roads and Maritime Services explaining how the rule applies specifically to roads with three lanes.

“If there are three lanes and the left lane has many vehicles travelling at a slower speed than you, stay in the middle lane,” it reads on the department’s site. 

“After you have passed them, you should return to the left lane. The right lane is generally reserved for overtaking so move out of it as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Either way, people blocking the right lane has caused a lot of anger – at least on Australia’s roads.

Cars Advice founder Alborz Fallah wrote in an opinion piece in 2016, people who sit in the right hand lane are his “most disliked type of human being”.

“Not only was this an exhibition of highly selfish behaviour, but it was also a pure reflection of the manner in which Australians take their driving,” he wrote.

“There’s an overwhelming sense of belief that if a car is doing the speed limit, it doesn’t matter what lane it is in. Add to this the ridiculously low tolerances for speeding, and overtaking lanes all of a sudden become utterly redundant.”

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