Monday, July 27, 2009

Left Lane Bandits: Right Lane Bullies

So I just drove from Portland, OR to Mountain View, CA. 10 hours of fairly nice scenery, mountain passes, and really boring and hot central California. Would you believe 112F in Red Bluff (about an hour south of Lake Shasta) at 4pm??

For the most part, people are fairly polite on the road. However, our police surveillance society always makes passing long, tedious, and dangerous. People are always paranoid about going too much faster than the speed limit, so in a 65 MPH zone you might be going 72 MPH passing someone who's going 71.5MPH.

I'm told that the New York State used to have a rule where for up to 1/4 mile you could drive at unlimited speed, so that passing could be quick, efficient, and safe. I doubt if that's true now.

So people tend to set their cruise controls and motor along in the left lane, because it's too easy to lose time if you move to the right and get caught in a squeeze play. This is where you need to pass a slower car, but you can't move back to the left lane because someone is closing just fast enough to keep you there, and just slow enough that you have to slow down because they're taking so long to get by you both.

This inevitably leads to those rude people who 1) pass you on the right and 2) butt in while you're passing traffic, forcing you to slow down and waste a lot of energy/gas in the process.

These people have an attitude problem. They just assume you don't mind slowing down for them and that the gap you leave in front of you is not reaction time buffer but instead reserved for them. They also rarely signal - perhaps out of general rudeness, but perhaps also as part of a "surprise them!" strategy.

This irks me for all sorts of reasons. This all happens under the noses of highway cops, who are measuring car speeds for ticketing instead of looking out for dangerous drivers.

In the vein of Friedman's "China for a Day", I wonder if we could become a bit more Teutonic about driving behavior. On Germany's Autobahns it is Simply Not Done to pass someone on the right. I did it once and received quite the disapproving glare. In Europe, passing on the right seldom becomes an issue, because everyone is trained to stay in the right lane(s) except to pass.

I know, I'm just dreaming. In America, driving is a right (despite what the DMV booklets all say) and if you can't stop people from buying SUVs, you sure as hell aren't going to keep them away from their left lane entitlement.


Blogger someones_butt said...

Why would you want to stop people from buying SUVs? The audacity of people who think that they should have the right, in a free society, to dictate what other people do with their money, never ceases to amaze me. The arrogance is immense. Who are you, and who is anyone, to say that someone must buy the type of vehicle that YOU think they should have? Nutty.

As far as lane discipline, people need to stay right when not passing, period, and if they occasionally get stuck behind a slower driver, that is too bad. That is just what they would be forcing on the other person if they cut them off. And anyone who is passed on the right is ALWAYS in the wrong, period.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Bart Locanthi said...

That SUV isn't bought with just your money. Its fuel use is subsidized, you may have gotten a Bush tax rebate for buying it, and its appalling resource usage raises energy prices for all and helps support destructive foreign policies and corrupt regimes.

So, no, I do have a legitimate say in what sort of vehicle you buy. Go ahead and waste your money on a Rolex instead, I won't even try to stop you there.

11:50 PM  

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