In a previous post, we discussed a state law commanding which side of the road you must use when you drive. Feel free to read our blog about the “right” side of the road.
For this blog post, we examine how certain laws say we should behave when we pass a vehicle going in the opposite direction. Generally, both cars will be operating on the right side of the road and will pass each other without problems if they stick to that. Is it a law drivers MUST to pass each other on the right when proceeding in opposite directions, however? What if the road is too narrow for both cars to pass at the same time?
Kansas covers this under KSA 8-1515. As we read this statute, we can see is says that it is illegal to pass an oncoming vehicle on the left. The policy behind this may seem too obvious. I believe legislators do not want drivers swerving in front of each other simply to pass in opposite directions. There is not much room to argue against this policy and it would also be more work for the driver to pass on the left rather than continue down the road in their same lane of travel.
What must we do if the road is too narrow, however? The same Kansas statutes provides guidance in that each driver must try to give the other 1/2 of the roadway to pass. This could mean that your vehicle might partially have to travel off the road. If you do not give the other driver their share, you could be in violation of this law.
For prosecutors, this law provides a method to pass on those roads that may not be maintained very well or traveled upon very much. It provides guidance for drivers to govern themselves upon such roads and a violation of this would likely be prosecuted to show that a prosecutor wants drivers to show courtesy and have each driver sacrifice their share for both vehicles to move about safely.
For the defense, as with most traffic offenses, there is not a lot of room to argue if you do not give up your share. I would point out, however, the language near the end of this law stating, “or as nearly as possible.” This could provide for a defense if the danger of going off the road, even partially, is more than staying entirely upon the road. Check out your state’s statute on this law and comment to me if you notice differences or have thoughts.
Until next time, drive safe!