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Is Passing on the Right illegal in the United States?


Passing on the right is a common practice among American drivers, though it’s typically discouraged for safety reasons in other countries.  The ones in the European Union, for example. It’s often outright prohibited. In the UK, for instance, drivers are expected to pass exclusively on the right due to left-side driving. However, in the US, passing on the right isn’t explicitly illegal in many states. Although some states, such as Maryland, have restrictions against it. They make an exception in the case of a passing a vehicle indicating a left turn.

All 50 states have variations of “keep right” laws to maintain a clear passing lane. This emphasizes the importance of passing on the left and returning to the right lane afterward. Despite not being expressly illegal under certain conditions, passing on the right is considered poor driving etiquette and can pose risks. Particularly so on highways with multiple lanes where it increases the likelihood of accidents.

In contrast, Germany strictly prohibits passing on the right. This contributes to its notably lower road fatality rate compared to the US. German roads experience about 4.2 fatalities per billion kilometers traveled, nearly half of the US rate. Factors contributing to Germany’s safer roads include a higher standard of driver proficiency and better infrastructure. As well as stringent enforcement of traffic laws, even on the renowned speed-limit-free Autobahn.

While population density, mass transit availability, and vehicle maintenance standards also play roles in road safety, the emphasis on responsible driving practices, including adherence to passing regulations, significantly contributes to Germany’s lower fatality rate. This highlights the importance of promoting safe driving behaviors and adhering to traffic laws to mitigate risks and enhance road safety for all motorists.
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