Keep left unless overtaking at all times. Apparently not!

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I grew up in Victoria and from a very young age I was taught as a pedestrian to keep left when going up and down stairs/escalators and generally when walking on the footpath (unless overtaking).   For many years as a child I just assumed this was a law, in any event it was just how things were done where I grew up in Victoria.   It seemed logical, pedestrian traffic flowed, it just worked!

Naturally when I got my driver’s license in the 1990’s this was one of the main things that stuck with me.  Keep left unless overtaking.  Simple, I could easily transfer my pedestrian life rules to my driving career.   It is now so highly ingrained into me, that until now when I have actively thought about it, I have realised how wrong it feels to just drive along in the right lane and how I always keep to the left.  I have also realised that still to this day I naturally keep to the left in stairs, escalators, supermarket aisles and footpath’s and that a lot of people around me don’t.

I have lived as far north as Palm Cove and as far south as Gordonvale.  One thing I have noticed when driving in and out of town is the failure of people to keep left unless overtaking.  However, the highway north of Cairns involves a lot of roundabouts and turn off’s which understandably can pose difficulty for keeping left.  South side in my experience flows a lot smoother and there is more room to move.  However, as much as south side flows, this is highly dependent upon your time of travel, if you are travelling in peak hour that flow can quickly become a mess. It’s at this point, when the traffic is a mess where I start talking to myself about the lack of motor skills my fellow drivers have.  While I know it is not always possible to keep left, despite your best intentions,  I nevertheless take this time to have an internal dialogue with myself trying to work out why someone is travelling 60km an hour in the right hand lane of an 80km an hour roadway.  My mind boggles,  Are they doing this on purpose?, why would they do that? and how did they even get their licence in the first place?

I wanted to write this article about the road rules and how the law states that you need to keep left unless overtaking in order to get the word out and help the north and south bound traffic flow better (I know, #biggoals).  My vision was this article would go viral, all motorist would start keeping to the left unless overtaking, traffic as a result would just flow and all would be well in the world.  However, as a result of reviewing the Queensland Legislation, I am now deeply embarrassed about my internal judgy conversations with myself as it appears that my driving style (which I thought was a road rule for the last 18 years) of “keep left unless overtaking” is only applicable in certain circumstances.

In brief, the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009  (Qld) states that when you drive on a multi-lane road where the speed limit is more than 80km/h (90km+), you must not travel in the far right lane (fines apply) unless you are:

  • overtaking
  • turning right
  • making a U-turn
  • avoiding an obstacle
  • entitled to drive in that lane because of an official traffic sign
  • driving in congested traffic.

In any event, if there is a sign saying “keep left unless overtaking” you must comply with the sign.

This means that, for years I have been incorrectly judging drivers in the 80km and below range for their driving skills as they were within their legal rights to be in that right lane or that far right lane despite the fact they were not overtaking (sorry!).  However, I take comfort in the fact that the few people I have told about this article were also of the same opinion as me, that the road rules are to keep left unless overtaking at all times.

Lesson to be learned.  Road rules should be reviewed periodically to keep up to date.  The current QLD road rules can be located here.

On a side note, I would be interested to hear if anyone could shed any light on their understanding of footpath and supermarket isle etiquette in FNQ? lefty/righty? Or centre?

 

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