EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Wess Winn, community services officer and crime prevention coordinator with the Waxahachie Police Department to write a weekly column in an effort to answer many of the law enforcement-related questions posed by our readers. Here’s this week’s column.

How many of you have ever heard of the term “Hammer Lane?” This is truck driver lingo for the passing lane (inside lane).  How many times while driving down the interstate do we get stuck behind someone driving in the passing lane and holding traffic up? 

It happens all the time.

Over a decade ago this law was passed to help ease congestion on the Texas highway system. The signs are posted all along the interstate highways here in Texas and the signs read, “Left lane for passing only.”  This is not a suggestion – this is the law. A driver can be issued a citation for “driving lane/not passing.” 

This law does not give someone the right to get behind another vehicle that is driving in the passing lane for a long distance to begin to flash their lights at the vehicle to move over.  This in itself is illegal. Drivers who change from the outside to the passing lane need to pay special attention to the speed of the oncoming traffic before they change into the passing lane so they do not cause an accident.  Sometimes it is hard to judge speed when an object is approaching from directly behind or in front of you.

Another good reason to drive in the outside lane is for safety. If you are traveling in the passing lane and a vehicle begins to cross over from the other direction, you could get boxed in if there is another vehicle to your outside.

The passing lane is not the Autobahn and the speed limit is the same in both the outside lane and passing lane.  I say this to remind drivers they still need to obey the maximum speed limit no matter what lane they are driving in.         

If you have a Police Beat question for Officer Wess Winn, he may be reached by e-mail at wwinn@waxahachiepd.org or call 972-937-9940, Ext. 211. Look for your questions to be answered here in the Waxahachie Daily Light every Sunday or listen to officer Winn’s show on KBEC Radio AM 1390 at 9 a.m. every Monday.