Passing and Lane Usage Featured Statutes


Typically, it's something "simple" that causes a traffic crash, which often results in serious injuries and fatalities.  Some of those "simple" things include: speeding, texting, or talking on a cellular telephone, and not paying attention to changing conditions. The list could go on and on.  We all know better, but for some reason, we don't make being a safe driver a priority in our lives.  One issue that seems "simple" to understand, but is often misunderstood by drivers, is proper lane usage.  Without a doubt, a "simple" lane violation can have disastrous outcome.

Missouri Revised Statute 304.015 clearly states when driving on a highway with a total of two lanes (one lane in each direction) drivers must drive in the right-hand lane.  Obviously, a driver may cross into the other lane to overtake a vehicle if the pass can be made safely.  On highways with a total of four or more lanes (two or more lanes in each direction), a driver is mandated to drive in the right lane unless passing slower traffic, letting another driver have enough room to enter the highway safely, or preparing to make a legal left turn.  Once you have completed the pass, Missouri law REQUIRES you to return to the right lane.  It is not legal or safe to continuously drive in the left lane.

As far as overtaking vehicles is concerned, make sure you are in a safe passing zone.  Missouri Revised Statute 304.016 addresses the passing laws.  On a two-lane roadway: Never pass on a hill, at a curve, in an intersection, or when you can see approaching traffic.  On highways with a total of four or more lanes (two or more lanes in each direction), always try to get through the other driver's blind spot as quickly as possible without exceeding the speed limit.  The longer you stay in the other driver's blind spot, the longer you are in danger of having that vehicle collide with your vehicle.  Never stay alongside, or immediately behind, a large vehicle such as a truck or bus.  These vehicles have large blind spots and it's difficult for their drivers to see you.  If you can't see the truck driver's face in the truck's side mirror, most likely, the truck driver can't see you. Remember, it takes longer to pass a large truck.  After passing any vehicle, make sure to provide plenty room to the vehicle you just passed by maintaining your speed. Last, but certainly not least, anytime you make a lane change always use your turn signals, so other drivers know of your intentions.

Safe driving is a full-time job and we need to realize that "simple" mistakes can cause serious traffic crashes.  Please do your part to be a good, safe driver by following all traffic laws, and by paying attention to the main task at hand.