If you are a licensed driver in the United States, chances are you’re familiar with the inevitable frustration often experienced due to the inconsiderate actions of other drivers. These days, it seems more and more motorists could use a lesson in interstate etiquette. More specifically, driving slow in the left lane, also known as impeding the flow of traffic. During my daily 40-minute commute, I often find myself stuck in a pod of traffic created by one oblivious individual clogging up the left lane. When said individual finally moves over and traffic is able to flow once again, I automatically hit them with a soul-piercing glare as I make my pass, like how dare you drive the speed limit and inconvenience me when I’m late due to my own poor time management skills? The majority of the time it seems that the aforementioned left-lane slowpoke had no idea that they were doing anything wrong. I mean, it’s maddening! By the time I arrive (late) to the office, I’m in a bad mood, my day already starting off on the wrong foot. Kidding aside, driving slow in the left lane is dangerous, contributes to traffic jams and causes wrecks. Admittedly, I let the actions of other drivers affect me way more than they should. Regardless, I can’t just pretend like this isn’t getting a bit out of hand. Left-lane slowpokes have become a huge problem. I can no longer sit idly by and let this atrocity continue. I feel a need, nay…an obligation to bring awareness to this dangerous offense.
Why driving slow in the left lane is dangerous.
Although commonly known as the “fast lane”, the left lane is not a fast lane at all, but rather a passing lane. In most states, it is a law that you cannot travel in the left lane except to pass. As soon as you make your pass, you’re supposed to move back to the right lane if possible. The problem arises when a driver makes a pass, then just chills in the left lane. Faster traffic becomes blocked by the vehicle cruising in the left lane. The blocked drivers grow impatient, often hastily swerving into the right lanes to go around the slower vehicle. This is like a dam blocking a river. When a river is dammed, water ceases to flow and backs up, creating a lake. The same thing happens when the left lane is clogged up, except the lake is now a crowd of enraged, reactionary drivers. This greatly increases the chances for an accident and is far more dangerous than speeding, hence the signage posted along most interstates urging slower traffic to keep right. According to studies, the biggest predictor of a crash is actually not speeding, but a driver’s variance from the speed of surrounding traffic. A vehicle traveling five miles per hour faster than the surrounding traffic is less likely to cause a crash than a vehicle in the left lane traveling just five miles per hour slower than the flow of traffic. Because of this, officers in some states have started ticketing those who camp out in the left lane.
Left-lane campers will often try to justify their actions by pulling the ol’ speed limit card. “Well, if I’m driving under the speed limit, then I’m doing nothing wrong, the other drivers are breaking the law by driving too fast. I’ll slow those speeders down and teach them a lesson!”. Look, this is not personal. Slowing speeders down is not your job. Just move over. You may think you’re doing everyone a favor and keeping the roads safe by regulating speeders, but blocking the left lane is far more dangerous than speeding. It doesn’t matter how fast others are driving, if you are impeding traffic you are the problem.
Just to be clear, I have nothing against those who choose to drive slower. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not personal. Traveling at high speeds on a crowded interstate can be definitely be intimidating. If you prefer to drive slower, that’s cool, just move to the right lane. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the law in most states. Driving is a privilege that we should never take for granted. By paying attention to your surroundings and familiarizing yourself with traffic laws, roadways across the country will become safer and less hazardous for all drivers.