Laws across Canada say the left lane on multi-lane highways should be for passing only, a law that is seldom enforced, meaning many people drive leisurely in the "passing" lane blocking others, increasing frustrations and causing jams
Photo Credit: CBC

British Columbia: the left lane is for passing!


They’re known in Canada as “left lane hogs”, and ultimately by several other less pleasant names, by people in cars backed up behind them on the highway, unable to pass.

Ian Toothill, co-founder of SENSE- a motorist advocacy group ““Some people think its their right to camp out in the left lane……they cause an increase in interactions between vehicles and disrupt the flow of traffic” © CBC

On multi-lane highways in Canada, when there are two or more lanes in the same direction, the left lane is for passing only. There are laws stating this but they are only very rarely enforced in any province.

The lane hogs are people who insist on driving leisurely in the left lane, forcing other drivers to pass on the right (illegal in some cases) or stay backed up behind them.

Although left lane hogs are common all across Canada, a movement is beginning in Canada’s west coast province of British Columbia to get drivers to move over. They want the province to take similar action to that of the US state of Washington

There, a campaign is in full swing to get drivers dawdling in the left lane to move over, often with a warning but sometimes with a $124 ticket.

Groups like SENSE in British Columbia have long advocated for greater enforcement of left lane laws.

Now the BC Ministry of transport says “Proactive measures are coming to encourage motorist to stay on the right. We expect results of the review in early July”

There is a bit of conundrum though. The speed  limit on most highways across Canada is 100 km/h. So if traffic flow is 110 or 115, which is quite common, someone could be “hogging” the left lane by staying with the speed of traffic, but also breaking the law, along with everyone else, by technically exceeding the speed limit.

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8 comments on “British Columbia: the left lane is for passing!
  1. Steve says:

    I have lived and drove all across Canada and enforcing the “left lane for passing only” rule would be a double edged sword. It may work in other parts of the country but not on Lower Vancouver Island where the speed limit is mostly 90 kms/hr. I have spent the past 3 years travelling from Comox to Victoria and back, where for the most part traffic flows farely well, except that the left lane drivers want to travel well over the speed limit. Without fail, if you drive 100 Kms/hr in the left lane you will be tailgated by those who want to go faster. Enforcing this rule has only increases the tailgating which is far more dangerous. The continuous speeding, tailgating and racing to merges needs to be addressed first. Bringing in photo radar would be a good start.

  2. Oh darn I forgot – the road maintenance is lacking on Van. Island to the point where I speed in the left lane just so I don’t loose a tire or screw up my wheel alignment !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. REMOVE THE LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING — DONE ! (trucks keep right would go with it)

  4. A FISHER says:

    re Driving in the Passing Lane
    I would be willing to invest in an automated system that uses photo radar to catch and
    ticket people driving in the Passing Lane. Rules would be something like: If a vehicle
    is in the Passing Lane for more than 2.5 Kms and is more than 7 seconds behind the
    vehicle in front of him/her then a ticket could be issued.

    Sharing of the income could arranged with the Province involved prior to starting to build the system.

    Comments/ideas about this would be appreciated.

  5. William S Street says:

    I am a resident of Vancouver Island. I am appalled at the condition of centre and side lining on most of the roads on the island.
    In wet dark weather the difficulties encountered by motorists is a matter of very serious concern. I am quite certain that many serious accidents could be avoided if we were to have truly reflective lines in all conditions of weather.
    Innovative products are seen all over Europe, and from personal experience driving in dark wet conditions is a breeze compared to BC.
    Road agencies need to take our safety more seriously and there should be no excuses for the lamentable state of our road markings.

  6. David Gerrior says:

    I suspect that if a study was done we would find that most of the “left lane hogs” are seniors with poor vision. So why are they always in the left lane? Simple, the most visible line on the road is the one marking the center line between opposing lanes of traffic. People with low or poor vision can see this line whereas there are often no lines between lanes of traffic in the same direction(or they are extremely faded lines) and they cannot see the line.

    So they drive on the left where they can see the line and thus know where they are! I know its a scary idea that we allow people with such poor vision to drive on our roads but I would bet there is logic to my argument.