The left lane is for passing. It’s a relatively simple idea that can help traffic move more quickly and safely. Proper lane discipline is not just about etiquette, though there is a component of that. Drivers who clog up the left lane cause congestion and congestion causes accidents. New Jersey is one of many states that have passed legislation increasing the penalties for holding up other motorists by cruising in the left lane.
Thousands of New Jersey drivers received traffic citations for left lane violations last year. In addition to a potential fine of hundreds of dollars, the violations can cost you two points on your license. Despite the enforcement, anyone who has driven on a New Jersey highway recently has likely seen multiple drivers occupying the left lane while not in the act of passing another vehicle.
Research has demonstrated that driving slower than surrounding traffic increases the chance of an accident. In fact, driving 5 mph slower than the traffic around you is more likely to cause an accident than driving 5 mph faster than other drivers. It only takes a small number of slower drivers to cause a traffic jam when lane discipline is not followed.
Driving too fast for road conditions is unsafe. But it is not the job of motorists to govern the speed of others. Speeders should face citations and discipline from New Jersey police. Likewise, people endangering others by using the left lane improperly should also be punished. Safety is the overriding concern and lane discipline is a key element of safe driving.
Source: WQAD 8, “States take aim at slow drivers in the left lane,” by Katrina Lamansky, 11 June 2015