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Ask a Trooper: Driving questions

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?

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. Was I in the right to block shoulder of the road?

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 isn’t safe, and not legal, so we are asking drivers not to do that. Thanks for the questions.

If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, Minnesota State Patrol, 7694 Industrial Park Road, Suite 2 Baxter, MN 6425 or email questions to with Ask a Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.