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What are the rules for passing stopped vehicles?

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Question: I watch my neighbors almost every day pull up to their mailboxes on the shoulder. The road has a shoulder, but traffic still has to move over to center line. It looks very unsafe. I have watched traffic flash their lights and honk their horns, but they keep doing it. What is the rule of the road in this case? I know it would be a lot safer if they just pulled into their driveway and walked to the mailbox, but that doesn't work in a "me-me" society. Note: they pull into the oncoming shoulder.

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Also, while driving home the other night, a car was turning left into a driveway. I was the third car behind the turning car. I slowed and moved a little onto the shoulder. The two cars in front of me passed on the right of the turning car. The truck that was behind me could not get past me and was livid! Honking and yelling and flying the bird. I felt bad to slow him down but I know better than to pass on the right. Was I in the right to block shoulder of the road? Thank you.

Answer: You can't lawfully drive over the center line (the wrong direction) for any reason except to make a safe and legal pass. If there is a crash, there is going to be trouble, for sure. It would be a lot safer (though technically not legal) if it was on a dead end road out in the middle of nowhere, or on a cul-de-sac or similar, but we see this being done on hills and in no-passing zones.

For the passing on the right part of your question, you can be over to the right of your lane, but if you are stopped and are parked on or over the white fog line (marking the shoulder), then you could be liable if in a crash. Worse yet, you could get hit and injured or killed (along with someone else). We advise not to do that. Passing on the right is against the law unless there is a lane provide—like a bypass lane—or if you are driving on a multi-laned highway. A driver can never use the shoulder of a road (paved or unpaved) or a turn lane for passing on the right. It is safe, and not legal, so we are asking drivers not to do that.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow — Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

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