9-11 rememberance
     Sept 4, 2005
Follow the Rules

Why can't they follow the Rules!

Doesn't the rule say 'Slower Traffic Keep Right'?

It has been a while since I have looked through the “Rules of the Road” book or the equivalent in your your state.  When I was learning to drive I was taught that slower traffic was to keep to the right hand lane on multi lane highways.  In my travels to work and elsewhere, I have found that there are several drivers who need a refresher course on this subject.

On a 50 mile trip to work I will come across 5 to 10 drivers that think it is their God given right to drive in the left hand lane at whatever speed they like.  Traffic may be backed up behind them but they do not move over or are reluctant to merge right.  Are these drivers stupid or are they just inconsiderate of the other drivers on the road?  I think that there are a couple of reasons why these drivers do this, as I explain below.  Slower traffic in the left hand lane also creates a hazardous situation for the other drivers that they share the road with.

I think one reason some people drive in the left lane is that they are uncomfortable changing lanes and their driving skills or experience is lacking.  If they drive slightly faster then the slowest traffic and are following the rules by staying in the right hand lane,  they are going to have to change lanes to pass the slower traffic.  So to avoid having to change lanes and deal with merging traffic from on ramps, these people just get on the expressway and then immediately move to the left hand lane and drive here until they need to move to the right to exit.  If they are in the left hand lane they usually do not have to worry about any slower traffic ahead of them (and passing) or merging traffic from the on ramps.

I saw a perfect example of this a couple of years ago.  A car gets on the expressway and cuts across 2 other lanes to get in the left hand lane.  They then proceeded to drive about 55 mph.  As I passed this car, on the right, I see an older woman driver with a death grip on the steering wheel.  She looked as if she would rather be anywhere else then on the expressway.  I would hope so,  I would not want to be on a major expressway in the left hand lane driving 55 mph when most of the traffic was going 65 or 70.  My guess is that when she got near her exit she would cut across 2 lanes of traffic to get to the off ramp.  If you don't like changing lanes on a multi lane highway because you are uncomfortable passing or driving then either stay on a 2 lane road or follow the slower traffic in the right hand lane.

Another  reason is that some people think they are special.  They are comfortable with their driving skills and are comfortable changing lanes and driving on an expressway but they do not want to be inconvenienced by having to go around slower traffic.  My observations of these drivers is that they either drive a fancier car and/or have an “I don't give a shit” attitude.  What makes these people special?  All I can say about this type of driver is that, it is a good thing that cars do not come equipped with rocket launchers.

A third reason that slower drivers stay  in the left hand lane is ignorance.  I think some people skipped the part in the rules that said “slower traffic keep right” or they did not understand it.  These drivers sometimes appear to be from other countries (although it is hard to tell anymore).  Several of these drivers are from Illinois, where it is not just suggested that slower traffic keep right, it is the law.  Maybe the Illinois drivers, drive that way in Wisconsin, because it is not illegal.  It would make me happy if we passed a law similar to the law in Illinois.

What is wrong with slower traffic in the left hand lane?  Two things.  1) Drivers that follow the rules do not expect traffic to pass them on the right.  As a driver you should be aware of everything around you, but you do not expect to be passed on the right.  You expect to be passed by faster traffic on the left.  2)   Faster traffic has to slow down because of slower traffic in the left lanes.  They then either have to wait to pass on the right or wait for the slower traffic to merge to the right.  If a driver is going 65 mph in the left lane and the traffic to his right is going 65 mph he should either move ahead or behind the car to his right and then merge to the right.  If a driver has lanes available to the right with no traffic he should merge to the right so that faster traffic can pass them.

Only a few things get me really upset or frustrated and this is at or near the top of the list.  How do you feel about slower traffic driving in the left hand lanes on multi lane highways?   Let me know.


Sept 4, 2005