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Wikipedia article "Passing lane".
In North American terminology, the passing lane is often known as a left lane or leftmost lane, due to left hand drive (driving on the right). In British/Irish terminology, the passing lane is termed an outer lane or outside lane, while a normal lane nearer the hard shoulder is termed an inner lane (or inside lane). Note that in some other countries, like Hungary and Australia, the passing lane is called the inner lane (belső sáv in Hungarian), because this lane is the closest to the middle of the road, thus it is the innermost.
In modern traffic planning, passing lanes on freeways are usually designed for through/express traffic, while the inner lanes have entry/exit ramps. However, many freeways often have ramps on the passing lane, these are known as "left exits" in North America.
A passing lane is often colloquially referred to as a fast lane because it is often used for extended periods of time for thru traffic or fast traffic. In theory, a passing lane should only be used for passing, thus allowing, even on a road with only two lanes in each direction, motorists to travel at their own pace. Good driving practice is to slip out of the passing lane once slower cars have been passed. The "fast lane" is also the most commonly used lane for speed limit law breakers (speeders). Many argue that the passing lane should be used for long-term use by fast drivers for long distance travel. Arguments in favor of this idea include decreasing the frequency of traffic jams and highway efficiency.