Keeping to the left on a multi-lane road
It is fair to say that most of the students we teach are unaware of the actual Road Rule regarding staying left on multi-lane roads. See this extraction from the Road Rules 2008 Rule 130 – Keeping to the left on a multi-lane road:
This rule applies to a driver driving on a multi-lane road if:
(a) the speed limit applying to the driver for the length of road where the driver is driving is over 80 kilometres per hour, or
(b) a keep left unless overtaking sign applies to the length of road where the driver is driving.
The driver must not drive in the right lane unless:
(a) the driver is turning right, or making a U-turn from the centre of the road, and is giving a right change of direction signal, or
(b) the driver is overtaking, or
(c) a left lane must turn left sign or left traffic lane arrows apply to any other lane and the driver is not turning left, or
(d) the driver is required to drive in the right lane under rule 159, or
(e) the driver is avoiding an obstruction, or
(f) the traffic in each other lane is congested, or
(g) the traffic in every lane is congested, or
(h) the right lane is a special purpose lane in which the driver, under another provision of these Rules, is permitted to drive, or
(i) there are only 2 marked lanes and the left lane is a slow vehicle turn out lane.
See legislation here
As a group of professional heavy vehicle driver trainers, we instruct students to drive as per the framework prescribed in the legislation. We also do our best to install common courtesy and driver etiquette. Though what is documented in the Road Rules is our educational priority.
There are times when driving a wide and tall vehicle, being in the middle or right lane is safer than the left lane. The left lane can have hazards, such as overhanging trees and telegraph poles, or the camber of the road pushing or pulling vehicles into said hazards.
The fact is that on a road with a speed limit of 80 km/h (or less), with no regulatory sign requiring drivers stay left, a driver can be in any lane he or she wishes. I do recommend that if a driver chooses to be in the right lane of a multi-lane road, they primarily drive to the conditions, and that if those conditions allow, drive close to the limit.
Sadly, those drivers who get frustrated at other drivers in the right lane, and consequently tailgate in protest, are both unaware of the law, and in breach of the law themselves.
If a driver is achieving the posted speed limit and is in the right lane, whom are they holding back? Answer: those that wish to speed.
I do believe that if a driver is driving a “slower vehicle” on a road with a speed limit of 80 km/h (or less) and is struggling to get to the speed limit, then it is courteous to stay in the left lane, that is just my opinion.