You’re driving down the road, and it never fails, you’re stuck behind a slow driver. How frustrating!
You’re so frustrated that you consider honking your horn at this driver. Did you know that you can pass in the “suicide lane” and you’re supposed to honk your horn?
Honk when passing to the Left
Have you ever attempted to pass a car on the road, and just about the time you pull alongside them they sped up? Not only is this dangerous for both vehicles, it can also be illegal.
However, you probably failed to properly warn them that you were preparing to pass them.
An operator passing another vehicle shall pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance, and may not move back to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the passed vehicle.
—See Tex. Trans. Code § 545.053(a)
Unless passing on the right is permitted, an operator being passed by another vehicle shall, on audible signal, move or remain to the right in favor of the passing vehicle and may not accelerate until completely passed by the passing vehicle.
—See Tex. Trans. Code § 545.053(b)
As you can see, the vehicle being passed shall (which in legal terms means must) move to the right and can’t accelerate, but it appears that this duty begins on “audible signal.” So, if you didn’t provide an audible signal to the vehicle that you’re passing, then you can’t complain when the driver doesn’t move over or speeds up while you’re trying to pass.
Now, the question is, What is an “audible signal”? Who knows?! Unfortunately the statute doesn’t define what an audible signal is, but I’d be willing to bet you can use your car’s horn. So, make sure that you honk when passing!
Passing in the Suicide Lane
You know what the “suicide lane” is, right? It’s the center lane of a multi-lane road that cars use as a turning lane where you often come face to face with other drivers.
Well, did you know that you can use this lane to pass other drivers on the road? Yes, this goes against everything you thought you knew, but it is a legal action and can be done safely.
If a roadway is divided into three lanes and provides for two-way movement of traffic, an operator on the roadway may not drive in the center lane except in preparing to make a left turn or if passing another vehicle and the center lane is clear of traffic within a safe distance.
—See Tex. Trans. Code § 545.060(b)
Now, this doesn’t mean you can always pass in the center lane. If you see this road sign, then passing in the center lane is prohibited.
You typically see this sign in more congested areas where you wouldn’t want to attempt to pass in the center lane anyway.
Now that you know a little more about properly passing those slow cars on the road, you’ll be better prepared to safely get around them and reduce your frustration (and traffic congestion).
So make sure you honk when passing, you speed demon!
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Criminal Law Division
1101 Broadway, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3303
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479