FREDERICKTOWN — It’s happened to every driver on the road. You are driving along and someone in front of you wants to make a left turn, but there is a long line of traffic coming the other way. There is no left turn lane, so you are stopped, too. Do you wait, or do you pass the car on the right? Is it legal to do so?
“You can pass on the right,” said Fredericktown Police Chief Jerry Day, “but there are certain conditions.”
Referring to the Ohio Revised Code, section 4511.28, Day said passing on the right is permissible on a roadway with “unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles moving lawfully in the direction being traveled by the overtaking vehicle. ... The movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway.”
Day said that means one can pass on the right, but can’t drive off the actual road surface while passing.
“Going over the white line on the side of the road is the same legally as going off the road,” he added.
Capt. George Hartz of the Mount Vernon Police Department explained that “sufficient width” means there is enough space to the right of the center line to have two lanes of traffic even if it isn’t marked that way.
Although passing on the right probably occurs most frequently at the intersection of Chestnut and Sandusky streets, Hartz said he cannot recall a ticket for incorrectly passing on the right being issued there. Many years ago, he said, an officer gave someone a ticket for passing on the right on Coshocton Avenue and the judge at the time ruled the roadway was wide enough and nullified the ticket.
Day said his department rarely sees people passing inappropriately on the right.
“Here in town, if somebody is making a left turn, you can pass them on the right because the pavement goes clear over to the edge of the roadway. That’s the advantage here in town,” he said. “What we see here, people pull up to the square coming east on 95 and want to turn left. They will keep to the center part of the road. Then somebody will drive up behind them and pass them on to the right to make a right turn. That part of the road is really marked off for parking. You shouldn’t be driving over into the parking side to make a right turn. If you had accident then, you would be at fault.”
So, if the roadway is wide enough and it can be done safely, it is legal to pass on the right.
“Just remember,” Day cautioned, “if you’re out on a county road someplace and somebody is making a left turn, if you pass them on the right, don’t drive off the edge of the road, because that’s a no-no.”