SHE SAID: The Left Lane

left-hand-laneOkay. I know in order to be on the roads, drivers are supposed to have completed a driver’s ed course. Some of us got to read through the book and then complete six hours of driving time in the car with an instructor (the smoker who refused to roll the windows down was not required, although it’s what I got and I look back on those six hours fondly and still love hot boxing cars with nicotine on a regular basis), others had a course built into their high school curriculum. Whatever the case, you can’t just walk in and get a license, so I’m assuming most people on the road have heard what the point is of more than one lane on the highway.
Here’s the issue I have: there are two definitions and one is very very wrong.

The left lane on the highway is NOT the “fast” lane. It is the passing lane. This lane should not be utilized unless you are in the act of passing another car.

I have been in the car with friends who will say, “I am going plenty fast. I’m going 75. That’s fast enough.” I’m not arguing that 75 or whatever speed you’re going is fast enough or not, but I will say that it is not up to us to decide how fast the other drivers should be going. Unless someone reading this is a police officer. In which case, yes, it is your job and have fun with the lights and flashers and sirens and all that jazz while you’re pulling over those speeders.

While hanging in the left hand lane, those who are considering it the “fast” lane, you’re causing a lot of the bottle necking, the random groupings of cars together on the highway where things aren’t flowing smoothly. Pass and then get the hell out of the way whether or not there is someone behind you. Usage of the left hand lane should be minimal, effective, and quick. There is no need to hang out there for an extended period of time. The pavement on the other lane is just as good, just as fast and there shouldn’t be any stigmatization of being “slow” if you are in that lane.

Now, it’s fun for those of us who are trying to get around you, on occasion. It’s fun to envision it like a ski race with an ever changing course to get through, sometimes what you’re expecting to be an under-gate turns into a quick hairpin at the last second and if you’re in a car that handles well, that can be a little rush and it’s fun. But when you’re stuck behind a row of cars with one at the front going approximately one mile per hour faster than the four cars in the right hand lane, it’s not funny any more. I start working in some swearing, envision teaching a drivers ed class in which all my students graduate knowing the real reason for and definition of the left hand lane. I might even throw in a little sideways glare as I pass, when I eventually get there, that says, as much as I can in a glance, thank you for wasting the last five minutes of my life by hanging in the left hand lane. Not sure it’s always received well or that the message is conveyed, but I believe the smoldering resentment gets across even when I am donning sunglasses. My point is that this could have all been avoided if a certain someone wasn’t hanging in the left hand lane.

Please, for the love of all that is good in this world and for the sanity of those driving around you, unless you are passing, get out of the left lane and into the right.

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One Response to SHE SAID: The Left Lane

  1. Rolf Gidlow says:

    I’ve never understood why this is such an issue in the USA as opposed to Europe where it is well understood that you stay out of left lanes unless you’re going to pass, and if faster cars are gaining on you you get out of the way. Maybe because other countries make it so much harder to get a driver license.
    George Carlin (as usual) had a great observation: “Ever notice how the person you’re trying to pass is a f**kin’ idiot, but the person trying to pass you is f**kin’ crazy?”

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