Lane terms that’ll keep you safer


Each week, our Road Rants reports answer viewer’s questions about their traffic concerns. Jack asked for clarification when it comes to “inside” and “outside” lanes. It’s more confusing than you might think, because different areas of the country, or even different state agencies, refer to lanes differenty.

The National Traffic Incident Management Coalition says that’s a problem. The NTICM, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, says that differing terminology in communications between agencies could potentially lead to confusion at accident scenes, impact responder and victim safety, and adversely affect emergency response and traffic clearance times.

To clear things up, the NTICM developed common terms. Knowing them can help not only first resopnders, and traffic reporters, but drivers too.

For roads with three lanes of traffic going in the same direction, the lanes are identified as the left lane, center lane, and right lane. The left shoulder is the inside shoulder, and the right shoulder is the outside shoulder. 

If there are more than three lanes moving in the same direction, they’re numbered. From the left, the lanes are one, two, three, four, and so on. 

Why is this important for motorists? If you’re involved in a crash, or have car trouble, telling a 911 dispatcher the location, direction, and lanes involved can help Road Rangers and First Responders get to you faster.

Send your Road Rants to Meredyth Censullo at or on Facebook at WFLAMeredyth.

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