By on July 20, 2011

Government officials like Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spend much of their time justifying their positions by tilting at national windmills like the “epidemic” of distracted driving, generally with relatively modest results. And yet, despite the massive increase in mobile device use over the last decades or so, on-road deaths per vehicle mile traveled are at an all-time low. So here’s a new “epidemic” for Secretary LaHood: lane discipline. Every time I take to the freeway, I’m absolutely shocked by the number of people driving at or below the speed limit in the left lane, and the number of people who stay in the fastlane even when there’s nobody to pass. And I don’t have to rely on anecdotal evidence to know lane discipline is a problem in America (or, at least in the Pacific Northwest). According to the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll,

43 percent of Washington drivers don’t know that impeding the flow of traffic in the left lane is against the law.

To which I say “bullshit.” Not only is it illegal to impede left lane traffic in Washington (and Oregon, where I live), but the freeways in both states have regular “keep right except to pass” signs, so the ignorance defense doesn’t really apply. People simply don’t care about maintaining lane discipline, and ignore any sign that urges them to do so. Clearly signage and the National Motorist’s Association’s Lane Courtesy Awareness Month aren’t doing the trick… and neither does giving the finger.

PEMCO’s presser continues:

PEMCO found that when faced with the prospect of a slow-moving vehicle in front of them, almost a quarter of respondents say that flashing their vehicle’s headlights is the most effective way to encourage left-lane violators to change lanes.

When the roles are reversed, one-third of drivers agree that flashing headlights or tailgating would be the most likely way to encourage them to change lanes.

About a quarter of respondents agree that the least effective method is for other drivers to use hand gestures, and younger drivers find it particularly ineffective to tap on a car’s horn – 23 percent of younger drivers chose horn-honking as the least effective method compared to 13 percent of those 35 and older.

With every civilized response to the menace of left lane banditry leaving fans of lane discipline disappointed, I’m beginning to think that the “Click It Or Ticket”-style campaign strategy that had limited success win addressing distracted driving might just make a difference with this problem. Motorists don’t simply need to be reminded that a law exists, they need to know why it exists (one left lane bandit can create huge traffic jams, wasting time, energy and pollution) and that it will be inflexibly enforced. And not only are there “green” reasons for supporting a lane discipline campaign, the more aware we make drivers aware of the fact that they are sharing the road, the more engaged with their driving and therefore safe they should be. Secretary LaHood, it’s time to take up this noble battle!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

140 Comments on “When Will The Government Address The “Epidemic” Of Left Lane Banditry?...”


  • avatar
    segfault

    I support efforts to end this epidemic, as well as the epidemic of turn signal non-usage. Sloppy, thoughtless driving is no different than distracted driving.

  • avatar
    brettc

    People that like to camp in the left lane are also generally the people driving blandmobiles with automagic transmissions. I think they get inside their cushy cars or trucks and forget that they’re behind the wheel of a 2 ton (or more) weapon. The real WMDs are on the highways and biways and they’re being driven by sleepy oblivious people.

    Since my cars come equipped with 3 pedals and keep me awake, I get in the left lane to pass, and when it’s safe to do so, I immediately get back in a lane that isn’t the left lane so I’m not the jackass that impedes traffic flow. When people fail to heed the basic rules of the road, it pisses me off.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Since I got blown up last time I tried to explain my thoughts on the left lane I will only say that this is what I do. After having read the statute in my state regarding passing and the fact that it is legal to exceed the limit my 10mph in order to pass when there are 2 or more lanes going in the same direction, I find it much easier to pass, camp right, rinse and repeat as necessary. It’s also rather calming to chill and go with the flow (not to mention saves fuel).

      I’m rarely in the left lane anymore as it is not worth it to have people goading you to go faster. I just wish more places in my state would have 3 lanes so that I could stick to the middle and not deal with those who can’t merge, or those that want to save 15 seconds on their trip.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    As a PNW resident, I do know that the WSP does ticket for driving too slow on the interstate and for egregious left lane ass hattery. I saw a driver pulled over first hand on I-5 just north of downtown Seattle by a King County Sheriff deputy. How egregious? Well they were driving 40 in the left lane after dark, no rain, in light traffic creating a mass of accumulating traffic behind them and borderline road rage of the cars trying to get around. But apparently, it takes going 40 MPH in the left lane to at least get pulled over (I have no idea if they were ticketed).

    When I drive between San Fran and home I can always tell I’m getting close to the Washington border because the hypermiling clueless morons that are rolling at 60 MPH in the 65 zone with Washington plates start appearing. I’ve found Oregon drivers to be better and once you get to California if you’re not doing 80 to 85 in the left lane you’re getting run over (and you’re also ticket fodder north of San Jose).

    I hate driving in Washington state – just hate it. And as you noted, it is against the law in Washington (the law even addresses regardless of the speed you are traveling – hence its not the left lane blockers job or right to enforce the speed limit) and as you also noted there are plenty of signs reminding drivers of this.

    What I find even worse is get out onto the Olympic Peninsula on the two lane highways and you’ll have lots of ass hattery. Cars, RVs and trucks rolling along with 10 or more cars behind them, despite frequent placement of signs stating, “delay of five or more vehicles illegal, use turn outs.”

    The end result as the traffic piles up is drivers get impatient and start taking dangerous chances leap frogging multiple cars. It becomes a real nightmare when you get an RV or truck lumbering along, and the cars in the number 2, 3, and 4 spots in the chain won’t pass, even when the truck/RV slows down and offers the opportunity because they are afraid to pass the truck/RV.

    I wish you could just pull them over and burn their driver’s license right there on the side of the road.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Here here, although, one nice aspect of the PNW is your distance from the two states that produce the most oblivious left-lane dwellers, VA and Florida.

      Florida has an excuse, it’s median driver age is about Dracula. Virginians, though. Jeebus. They do not use the right lane >at all<.

      I had a 2-lane SUV/RV situation similar to the one you outline that nearly proved fatal last month up in the mountains. Twistie 2-laners, with the occasional 3-lane, pull-off. A Florida RV, followed by two Virginia SUVs, were hobbling along ~35 on mountain roads where speedlimit were 55. Florida refused to pull right, so the SUVirginians passed right (mind you, the pull-offs aren't long enough, so there was some teeth grinding stupidity I witnessed in the queue of the damned.

      Once they passed on the right, the SUVirginians felt obliged to move marginally faster (~40 mph) and ALSO refused to move right, while me and a fleet of locals capable of driving like adults queued up. There was enough high-beaming at every turn-off you could see us from space.

      • 0 avatar
        beefmalone

        Don’t blame the RV driver. Every time I use the pulloff lane to let people by someone inevitably will refuse to let me back over. I gave up on using it and just figure if someone wants around me bad enough then they’ll floor it in the right lane. If the grade is steep then sometime 35mph is all you’re gonna get even with your foot on the floor of a 20,000lb+ RV.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yet another one that feels they are entitled to break the law, create a safety issue, not yield the lane because, “they won’t let me back in.”

        That’s a load of crap. I’m going to call for what it is. Crap.

        If there was some long endless line of cars that would never let you back in where are you driving? LA? I know once I get past that lumbering RV like you there is miles of open road.

        Of course no one lets you back in. The twenty cars stuck behind you want to get by. Then there is the next gap of open road that you can pull out back in to.

        It is the LAW – gee I’m not going to follow the law and here, you risk your life passing me illegally is a rather selfish position.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        I’m afraid that ‘Don’t blame the RV driver’ ship sailed. Lemme tell you, when people did have the opportunity to unsafely pass (from the right) during the several 1/4 mile pull-offs (that he decided didn’t apply to him) there were a lot of fingers out of the driver windows.

        If you can’t safely and respectfully drive an RV, stay the hell away from the mountains.

    • 0 avatar
      newcarscostalot

      Lol @APaGttH I’m from CA and have lived here (WA) for some time, and what you describe is spot on.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    At this point I’d be happy if after 10:00 pm or so, people around me were capable of staying in the lane they’re in rather than weaving halfway into the lane next to them, catching themselves and spending some time in the hard shoulder, etc. BAC ain’t a contest, people.

    As for left-laning, well, part of the problem is that our speed limits aren’t high enough, so you have people in the left lane thinking “herp-de-derp, I’m going 55, which is the speed limit, which means nobody should be trying to go faster than me anyway” while, meanwhile, everyone is passing him on the right, even the guy on a scooter. Come on, everyone here knows the difference between posted speed limits and actual, you’ll-get-a-ticket-at-this-speed speed limits. In Maryland it’s even programmed into the speed cameras (they only go off if you’re more than 12 over).

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      I’ve gotten a ticket for 70 in a 65 outside of Cumberland. MD cops are THE WORST. I drive from here (90 mi south of PIT) to the DC region for work at least once a month, and have done so for 5.5 years. That’s alot of trips on those roads. Your 12 mph assertion is simply not true, at least not on I68, I70, I81, Hwy 340 outside of Frederick, or any of the many different roads I’ve been on… But anywho.

      Flashing simply does not work in my experience. I travel to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Charleston (WV), DC, Philadelphia, and a few other miscelaneous places in the mid-Atlantic states. Flashing causes brake-checks, horns go ignored, tailgating causes brake-checks, swerving causes brake-checks, and attempts to pass on the right cause them to try to run you off the road or speed up to block you from passing (they then instantly return to their cruise-set 62 mph). People are idiots, and the government doesn’t care because it’s not an offense that can be scientifically verified (i.e. no guaranteed revenue for the revenue collect… I mean police officers).

      I know everyone wants to legislate the hell out of this, but that’s not going to work. Look at seat-belt use. And there’s honest-to-God personal risk involved in that one.

      This requires a full, ground-up re-thinking of the driving system, and with America’s “right-to-drive” mindset, I’m not holding my breath.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    Left lane bandits should be hauled out of their car and summarily executed by the road side. That might get a few to notice, but they are pretty thick.

    In Canada, on the 401, drivers are pretty good about this, with the distinct exception of US plated vehicles. They just don’t get it, even with the big “Stay Right Except to Pass” signs.

    I drive right up on their bumper, flash the lights, and lay on the horn. They will usually move after giving me the one fingered salute. If they only knew what kind of an as$hole they were!!!

    • 0 avatar
      thesal

      I don’t know which 401 you’re talking about but Canadians are no better. The only difference is they usually know the “unwritten speed limit” is 120kmh, while the americans stick closer to the posted signs. Enforcement there is far less lenient.

      PS. Every morning on the 403, I run into alteast 6 drivers on my 15 minute commute hogging the left lane. I wish the left lane “banditry” was ticketed here too.

      PS2. Jim McKenzie of the Toronto Star wrote up a recent article on this, was he the inspiration for this TTAC write-up?

      • 0 avatar
        jjster6

        I’m talking 401 between Windsor and London. Speed limit enforcement is brutal on that stretch (because some distracted drivers killed themselves, yes themselves, by driving off the road) but lane discipline is generally good.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    In addition to left-lane hogs, what about truckers who camp there, or try to pass another trucker by going 1/2 mph faster, which takes ten minutes to accomplish? Those are the guys that get on my nerves!

    Cue the old “Highway Buddy” story by Jack of some months ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      +1000 After a 3000 mile trip to Ohio and back on the nation’s interstates.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      Jack just winds up the Phaeton and passes beige by taking to the median. Through the grass.*

      *Tame racing driver. Do not attempt.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      The reason trucks often pass so slowly is that almost every big truck on the road today has the maximum speed programmed into the engine ECM, and the truck will not exceed it. This makes a huge difference in fuel economy, and has some safety benefits.

      The downside is that if a truck governed at 68 mph is passing a truck governed at 66, it is going to be slow going. Aggravating indeed, but I don’t know what the solution is (having separate truck and car speed limits creates speed differentials that have proven to be even more dangerous).

  • avatar
    vento97

    In NJ, that type of driver is known as “Discourteous Richard” or “Left-Lane Dick”…

  • avatar
    sfbiker

    OK. This is where we really part ways.

    I ride a motorcycle to work. I camp in the passing lane — all the way to the left — because it’s the safest place to ride. In my defense, I do so at a high rate of speed, always over the 65 mph speed limit, and usually at least 5-10 mph over the flow of traffic. I don’t tailgate, and I get pissed when drivers ride up on my ass. (Guess what — I can stop my bike a lot faster than you can stop your car.)

    I’ll get over if some blowhard wants to do 90 on the 101 in his Corvette, and I don’t lane-split unless traffic is stopped or crawling at less than 15 mph. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been nearly killed by dipshits weaving through traffic and cutting me off when I was in the middle lane.

    Until they come up with a motorcycle-only lane (and I’m not holding my breath) the fast lane is the safest place to ride.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      So you break the law, encourage road rage, putting yourself at danger by encourage said tailgating and road rage, and you’re proud of it.

      You can be very smug in your “rightness” in your own mide when you’re in ICU one day after being peeled of the radiator grille of a truck that wanted to pass.

      • 0 avatar

        If lane discipline is consistently observed, there should be no reason for any kind of dangerous, multiple-lane-changing maneuvers. The problem doesn’t come from speed per se, it’s that traffic doesn’t flow efficiently, forcing drivers to either tune out and become part of the problem or take undue risks in order to keep traffic flowing around the obstruction. The attitude of left lane bandits that they are somehow being responsible and doing “the safe thing” by obstructing the flow of traffic is, in my opinion, the real enemy here. It’s time to stop blaming the victims.

        Go to Germany sometime to see how well this works. Not only does traffic flow smoothly, allowing everyone to move at their own pace, but the near-universal respect for fellow motorists means drivers don’t find themselves in as many situations where they have to choose between moving at their preferred speed or make a dangerous maneuver. This isn’t about wanting to ignore speed limits, it’s about maturity, respect and abiding by rules that make everyone’s experience better.

      • 0 avatar
        sfbiker

        If a truck wants to pass me, and can catch up to me, I’ll get over, but that guy’s going to be doing 90, and he’s the danger, not me. Lane-splitting is legal in California up to 35 mph with a 15 mph delta. I don’t lane-split when traffic is going faster than 15-20.

        I’ve ridden for twenty years without a ticket or an accident.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @sfbiker

        Wrong, you are part of the problem, not the solution, and if you don’t yield, regardless of your speed, you are creating a danger.

        I’ve got 394 HP and 422 pound feet of torque under my right foot, even if I’m cruising at 90 MPH down in California or out in Montana I don’t care if it’s an effin’ Prius with a mini spare on the front wheel that comes up on my bumper; if I don’t yield the lane, I AM THE PROBLEM, not the person who wants to drive faster than me.

        A driver wanting to go over the speed limit + a driver that wants to play cop and enforce a limit by not yielding the lane = road rage at the minimum, can equal firey twisted metal death at the worst.

        It is not your job to enforce any kind of limit in the delusion that this somehow makes you “safer.” It makes you a target. Then to brag about riding at 90 MPH while saying not yielding the left lane makes you ready for a safe rider award in the great state of California is – frankly – delusional.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @Ed

        I found that outside of Paris, French drivers were very respectful of passing lane protocol and all other rules of the road; except the posted speed limit which appeared to be little more than a vague recommendaiton.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      It must be legal in California for motorcyclists to split lanes, as I have experienced that every time I have been out there in recent years.

      Speaking of motorcycles, although this has nothing to do with the subject at hand, ‘way back in August 1970, five of us piled in my ’64 Chevy convertible for a day in San Francisco. Driving down from Beale AFB, on our way along I-80, west of Sacramento, the road was packed with traffic. I decided to look at the speedometer and was quite surprised to find out everyone was happily cruising along at 85 mph! I was in the second left lane and up alongside us on my right came a dude on a chopper, one hand on the bars, no helmet (common), with a gal riding on the back, head cocked to one side, not holding onto anything and leaning back on the sissy bar, as she was sound asleep! Scared all of us to death at what could happen in a micro-second! What a day that was!

      • 0 avatar
        sfbiker

        Motorcycle accidents most often occur at intersections. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the safest place to ride is the fast lane — traffic moving in the same direction at roughly the same speed, coming at you from really only two directions, behind and from the right. You’re trying to make the argument that someone who is going faster than the flow of traffic is an obstruction, and “causes” the drivers who want to go even faster to take unnecessary risks by passing on the right, and that those who pass on the right are only doing so because there’s a slowpoke in front of them taking up “their” lane.

        Baloney. Hogwash. That’s smug and arrogant and borderline psychopathic. And if the point you’re making is that my being in the left lane provokes someone into justifiable road rage because they think it’s their god-given right to go a hundred in heavy traffic and that it will serve me right to get squashed by said dipsh*t, save your breath, take a valium, go play with a puppy for a while and then think about that again.

      • 0 avatar
        Scott.A

        Also known as, I can break the law because I’m special but when you do it it’s because you’re a road raging maniac. I can go ten over because this is the perfect rate of travel but if you go 10 over my ten over then you’re a maniac.

        sfbiker, if someone is behind you, move over or go faster. They’re tailgating you for a reason and it’s because you’re being an a-hole holding up traffic

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Also known as, I can break the law because I’m special but when you do it it’s because you’re a road raging maniac. I can go ten over because this is the perfect rate of travel but if you go 10 over my ten over then you’re a maniac.

        sfbiker, if someone is behind you, move over or go faster. They’re tailgating you for a reason and it’s because you’re being an a-hole holding up traffic

        +1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

    • 0 avatar
      rem83

      As a fellow rider in a big city, I can understand where you’re coming from. I generally ride in the left-lane, partly because I’m going faster than the vast majority of traffic, and partly to avoid rapid lane changers. However, if someone does come up on me, I will get over to let them pass as soon as reasonably possible. It seems doing otherwise puts you at considerably more risk, and it’s not like you have to spend very long in the center lane to let them by. You’re probably right about being able to stop faster (depending on your tires, of course) – but that sure as hell doesn’t do you a lot of good, and I’m sure the guy in the SUV behind you doesn’t really give a shit either.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        +1 on my bike as well. Also: If there is NO WHERE to go because all lanes are clogged @ limit because people are blocking, I will switch to whatever lane has the most stopping space BEHIND & INFRONT of me. If you can’t go anywhere safely, BUY STOPPING SPACE for both yourself & the person behind you. I’ll also due anything to avoid/stay away from semi’s….

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      GET OFF THE INTERSTATE and take the alternate 2-lane, which is what the bike is designed for, unless it’s H-D (designed to be pulled on a trailer). A lot more fun (it IS a motorcycle, for Chrissake; have fun on the damned thing instead of being in the way of commerce and vacationing and hellbent to get wherever), and a lot less risk. I have found that the Interstate is no place for cycling. And especially with YOU out there.
      And if people are “cutting you off” as you say, YOU are not paying attention. Motorcycle riding requires the utmost in defensive driving.

      • 0 avatar
        sfbiker

        I’m commuting. 101 is the most direct route. And on the weekends, I’m taking the two-lanes like all the other bikers.

        People don’t cut me off when I’m in the fast lane. They cut me off when I’m in the middle lane, and they suddenly want to exit from the fast lane, or they think they can weave their way through heavy traffic and save 15 seconds.

    • 0 avatar
      1000songs

      That pretty much goes against absolutely every motorcycle safety course I have ever taken and everything I have ever read about riding a motorcycle. I acknowledge that you are an experienced rider who has ridden without incident and are least not riding in the center of the lane where oil and debris tends to accumulate. Having said that, I encourage ANYONE who rides, or is thinking about riding, to (i) take a motorcycle education course; and (ii) google “motorcycle blocking position”. The idea is to discourage other drivers from passing you in your own lane (which would definitely happen if you were blocking the passing lane!).

      In essence, your lane position is dependent on whether or not you are in the curb lane or the passing lane. In the curb lane, the correct blocking position IS in fact, in the left portion of your lane. In the passing lane, the correct position is NOT the left portion of the lane, but the right portion.

      This is a general rule; motorcycle lane position is, in fact, also situational. For example, when cresting a hill on a two lane road, it is excellent practice to move to the right of the lane, in case someone on the other side of the hill is passing or has just gone a bit wide.

      There are about a million places on the interwebs that provide this basic, and potentially life saving information. Here is one of many: http://www.sgi.sk.ca/sgi_pub/instructional/motorcycledrivers/2009/04.pdf

      Safe riding. Please.

      • 0 avatar
        sfbiker

        You’re absolutely right that that’s what the books all say, and it’s what I was taught in the course. Here’s where I differ with what the books all say: “motocycle blocking” assumes that people will see you and not change lanes. But if they don’t see you or don’t look and change lanes quickly without signalling, you don’t have time to react if they do start to change lanes. If I’m over to the left, I can see them as they start to change lanes, and I have the emergency berm to my left which I can use if necessary — it’s a divided highway. That is absolutely not true in the middle lane, where cars cross the flow of traffic from right and from left.

        I’m not riding my motorcycle in such a way as to make the most aggressive drivers on the road happy, something I believe to be impossible. I’m riding it in such a way as to keep myself alive.

      • 0 avatar
        1000songs

        At least we agree that the middle lane is a place you should never ride…

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      The son of a friend of mine was killed while lane splitting when a driver changed lanes in very slow traffic.

      sfbiker, keep up the asshattery and you may join him. Your type is one of the reasons so many people don’t like motorcyclists. If you are going to self-righteously block the passing lane because you have determined the correct speed for everyone, at least do it right: buy a Crown Vic, order an AARP card, and get Florida plates.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    When will the government address the “epidemic” of left lane banditry?

    Aproximately 10 min after hell freezes over.

    After having driven from New Mexico to Ohio and back again this summer while trying to maintain a steady 85mph let me give some cheers and jeers.

    Cheers to Oklahoma drivers for being the most courteous and least likely to hog a lane.

    Jeers to MO drivers for being the most boneheaded I have seen in 18 years of driving.

    Jeers to IL and IN cops for being the most agressive and biggest “lurkers.” (Let me hide till I catch somebody.) Even worse than Ohio’s much maligned Highway Patrol.

    Cheers to the drivers on I-69 between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne for not giving a rats hind end about the posted speedlimit and making haste between those two cities.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In part, you can fault the “Speed Kills!!!” approach to driver safety that has been taken here for decades.

    Instead of emphasizing defensive driving and cooperation with other road users, the safety message has been focused on absolute speed and the alleged consequences of exceeding the limit. At the same time, many highway speed limits are set below the prevailing flow of traffic.

    This leaves us with this bit of highway cognitive dissonance, with large numbers of drivers exceeding the limits while simultaneously lugging chips on their shoulders against other drivers who drive more quickly than they do, believing that it’s those other guys — it’s always somebody else, after all — who are unsafe.

    Personally, I think that the states should move away from enforcing maximum limits and more toward a “reasonable and prudent” standard for open highways. The safety message should be shifted toward playing well with others, such as using (and respecting) turn signals, passing safely, avoiding tailgating, choosing an appropriate lane and reducing speed variance when in mixed traffic. At this point, the mindset of the average American driver is far too self-centered — they drive within a me-first mental bubble, and bad things can happen when the aggressive and the slow bubbles meet.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Yes. YES.

      If you agree with the OP, bear in mind you’re mad at someone for not breaking the law (speeding). So there is a HUGE dissonance between two laws that conflict: speed limit vs. lane blockage.

      Going under the limit in the left lane is rude, I agree. And I pass quickly in order to keep from hogging the left lane. But I no longer get upset at those who drive the limit (or just over). Would you shout and gesture at someone who won’t run a red arrow for you? Or someone who is obeying right-of-way at a stop sign? How about someone who won’t leave the newspaper machine open for you to steal a copy?

      Finally, would you be angry at someone who’s not breaking the law ENOUGH for you? It sounds like “slow passers” are not speeding enough for the folks who want to drive +15 MPH.

      Given a choice between pissing off a random person and getting a ticket, what would you do? Imagine you don’t know where the police are, and any moment you speed is a moment in which you could be ticketed. Now stop imagining, because that’s real life. What right do any of us have to ask a stranger to speed?

      This position does not ignore that a perfectly good right lane is available for speed-limit use. I would counter that society is then building an entire lane for lawbreakers. What sounds easier – changing the law to eliminate the lawbreaking, or trying to enforce a confusing and dangerous mix of “rules” and laws?

      All this anger is the result of poorly written and conflicting rules-of-the-road. THAT’s who you’re angry at. Gesturing/yelling at someone will only get you what you deserve.

      Instead of road-raging against law-abiding citizens, anybody complaining in public should instead be writing their congressman/newspaper/sheriff. The law needs to be fixed, or clarified. It takes 60 seconds to obtain the Email addresses of your lawmakers. How long did it take to rage against law-abiding drivers?

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        Given a choice between pissing off a random person and getting a ticket, what would you do?

        The correct answer is C) move to the right and let the random person pass you. And yes, the dialectic position you state does ignore a perfectly good right lane.

        Please understand that in most jurisdictions, the left lane is for passing, irrespective of the speed limit. If you’re going +15 over, but the people in the right lanes are going +15 over, well, you’re not passing. The same is true for -15 under.

        It’s not just courtesy, it’s about safety and efficiency (see Ed’s post above, the autobahn wouldn’t be feasible if people camped in the left lane and said ‘Meh, I’m going plenty fast, they can wait behind me.’) Your discomfort at the potential chance of a ticket is moot and a distant second when compared to the safety of your occupants and other motorists’ safety.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I would counter that society is then building an entire lane for lawbreakers. What sounds easier – changing the law to eliminate the lawbreaking, or trying to enforce a confusing and dangerous mix of “rules” and laws?

        I think that you may have understood my post.

        Allow me to rephrase: the “Speed Kills” mantra has a cultivated a rather unfortunate driving culture, one which is fixated on drivers making moral judgments about the driving speeds of other drivers instead of just cooperating with each other. As a result, we end up with rolling roadblocks of drivers who believe that they have some sort of moral right to impede traffic because anyone who drives more quickly than they do is committing some sort of sin.

        The better policy is one that emphasizes a good attitude, and that makes it clear that a lane blocker is somebody with a bad attitude. Both the tailgater and the obstructionist have very similar mindsets — they’re self-centered, and more interested in casting judgment on others than in monitoring their own behavior. The message needs to be changed so that slower drivers keep right, instead of being righteous.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Cackalacka, you are smarter than to think German autobahns are a fair comparison to anything else in the world. Their laws are not written like ours are. And the autobahns have no speed limit, or the limit is high enough for real (>25MPH) speed differences to exist between the slowest and fastest legal drivers.

        I understand that most jurisdictions have that arrangement (left lane is for passing). That’s precisely the disconnect that causes this problem. One law says “passing only”, another law says “drive the limit”, and a third says “don’t cause accidents”. Yet in order to not cause accidents, right-laners need to ocassionally use the left lane.

        Furthermore, standard passing speed is not defined. So when someone is technically passing at +5 MPH, several posters here are fuming that the passer is not going +15 MPH. So which is correct? Both are following the law. The OP is asking slow passers to adhere to a set of standards found only in his head.

        Further, if a less-than-perfect driver’s courtesy is responsible for YOUR safety, than perhaps you are looking in the wrong place for it.

        I mourn the decline in courtesy like most here. However, I don’t demonstrate that decline myself by going out of my way to boil over when that courtesy isn’t extended to me. To those who will tailgate and wish death upon those not moving fast enough for you: are you expecting courtesy, or are you grateful for it? Your answer may surprise you.

        All we need is a set of cascading laws (not courtesy rules) that define behavior in a clear way that eliminates the possibility of breaking the law in order to be courteous.

        Otherwise, there will never be a solution that satisfies most people here. In which case, my advice is “your job is you.”

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        Bryan,

        You’re right, it would be foolish of me to compare our roadways to an efficient, courteous, well-informed, safe, and well-disciplined German motoring public.

        What you advocate is not efficient, not courteous, not informed, not safe, and not disciplined; in short, everything that is wrong with a dangerous plurality of American motorists.

        This:

        “Furthermore, standard passing speed is not defined. So when someone is technically passing at +5 MPH, several posters here are fuming that the passer is not going +15 MPH. So which is correct? Both are following the law. The OP is asking slow passers to adhere to a set of standards found only in his head. ”

        is complete garbage. Until we all drive robot-Google cars, ‘standard passing speed’ will never be defined. That is the point of the left lane; people will always travel at various speeds. If you’re going +5 or +15 mph faster than the drivers on the right, execute your pass, and then merge right.

        The OPs standards “found in his head” are spread throughout this nation, in the form of official signs saying ‘KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS’ and ‘SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT,’ et alia.

        People are going to be dicks, tailgate, scramble across 4 lanes of traffic, use gestures, etc. But at the end of the day, the “In which case, my advice is “your job is you.”” mindset doesn’t fly. When you turn on your ignition, you have to account for every other human being in your sphere; it’s a part of being a part of civilized society and one of social contracts of participating in the communal activity that is driving. If you’re tootling in the left lane, saying to yourself “By gum, my speedometer has me going +5 over, the people behind me that are getting wedged by the people behind them, who are getting wedged in turn by the people behind them, etc. etc. etc. can wait,” remember you are violating that social contract, and in some enlightened jurisdictions, violating the law.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      PCH, actually, there isn’t a moral judgement involved at all. It’s a legal judgement. The culture you’re describing may not be one of passing judgement. Consider it might be actually a culture of law. The speeding laws are far more strict, clear and publicly visible than the vague, buried and situational laws regarding lane discipline. Being forced to choose between the fickle expectations of surrounding drivers, and the decidedly nonfickle expectations of state troopers, it’s pretty obvious which one the left lane hogs are going with.

      My overall point is that this anger is misplaced. The OP is lumping several different responses to traffic situations as “left lane hogs acting on purpose” (to paraphrase). If you trace the motivations of these “hogs” to their source, you’ll find they’re usually based on some interpretation of the law.

      I am suggesting that things happen pretty fast at 80 MPH, and the laws and courtesy rules are too loose, subjective, and open for individual interpretation to blame the driver.

      Instead, writing our lawmakers is the best way to enact a clear solution, not contributing to the awful state of road manners.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Instead, writing our lawmakers is the best way to enact a clear solution, not contributing to the awful state of road manners.

        I’ll agree with you there. The laws are contradictory and send the wrong message.

        As time goes on, I’ve become in favor of scrapping maximum speed limits in favor of a “reasonable and prudent” standard for that very reason. Slower drivers shouldn’t have the ability to point at a sign as an excuse to justify their stubbornness.

  • avatar
    evan

    I whole heartedly endorse any rant or action targeted at left-lane squaters…

    You can play incredibly mean with many of these people and they drive on oblivious, or worse, think that YOU are the fool.

    Did you know, on a highway the right lane is only for ‘merging’… and the left is for ‘thru traffic’?

    Yeah, I’ve heard that explained to me a few times. And even in the middle of nowhere – no exit or entrance ramps for miles – the right is still only for cars getting onto or off the highway, and the left is the appropriate lane, no matter your speed.

    To quote Blades of Glory, “It’s mind bottling…”

  • avatar
    jimble

    I’m as frustrated by left lane hogs as anybody but please please please please please, folks, tailgating is far more dangerous and obnoxious than camping in the wrong lane. Don’t do it.

  • avatar
    buzzdsm

    Nothing pisses me off more than people who don’t use the left lane for passing. I high beam them every time.

    I noticed a few things while driving in Italy and France while on Vacation.

    I believe the speed limits were in the mid 80’s, which I struggled to maintain in the Fiat 500 I was driving.

    I don’t think I ever saw a semi in the far left lane. I’m wondering if on 3 lane roads they are not allowed in the far left lane? If so, can we have that here?

    I drove probably 500 miles over all and not one time did I experience someone using the left lane for something other than passing. In fact I noticed that many people just left on their left turn signal while passing?

    And for the person that rides in the left lane on his motorcycle for safety reasons, if you’re that worried than get off the motorcycle. You are in the wrong and just adding to the problem. The reason people are probably tailgating you is because you won’t move over.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Tailgating a motorcycle? And that proves what?

      • 0 avatar
        buzzdsm

        Being a rider I wouldn’t do it but don’t expect people to not tailgate you when you are riding in the left lane and not using it for it’s intended purpose. You are putting yourself at risk and being a douche at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      As a fellow motorcyclist, my safety is going to trump your convenience every single time, and if that means staying away from the center lane because it’s full of idiots then that’s what it means.

      Personally, unlike that other guy, I’ll stay off the Interstates entirely, at least during rush hour, because around Baltimore every Interstate turns into the goddamn Thunderdome at rush hour. You know how most places when it gets really bad, the lanes are full, there’s a foot of space between every car and everyone is at a 10 mph crawl? On I-695, when it gets bad, the lanes are full, there’s a foot of space between every car, and everyone is still going 85. I wouldn’t feel safe in anything with less impact protection than an Abrams.

      (When it’s not busy, who gives a damn what lane you’re in? There’s three of them, and there’s nobody else around. Stay out of the left one because that’s where the speed camera is aimed.)

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      After driving around the old continent, and especially Italy, I have learned that the left turn signal on when in the left lane tells the other drivers that you want to pass them. First time driving there I was getting dirty looks and non movers for flashing my high beams.
      But I noticed the turn signal theme and caught on. It was like moses parting the red sea after that. Maybe its a law, or maybe just an unwritten rule about flashing high beams. But the turn signal trick works like magic in Europe.

      Lane discipline will never catch on here. Because people think they are the only people on the road and that their rules they make up are good enough for everyone else. Govts wont do a damn thing either. The irrational speed limit system we have here is too much of a money maker.

    • 0 avatar
      liechter

      High beam them all the time? I can guarantee you something very bad is going to happen to you eventually.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I was in Germany on a tour a few years ago. We travelled around via bus. I spoke with the driver about this. Large vehicles are limited to 100 kph, and must use the right-most two lanes only. No busses or trucks in the left lanes, none tailgating or excessively speeding.

        My aunt had to have back surgery after being rammed by a coal truck tailgating her Grand Prix in the late-90s on the interstate. She braked to avoid hitting a deer, he was 3 feet from her rear bumper and obviously couldn’t avoid it in time. The rear half of the car was gone (thankfully she was alone in the car – rear seat riders would have been paralyzed or dead).

  • avatar
    buzzdsm

    For the people that say “I’m going ** over the speed limit so I can stay in the left lane”, you are part of the problem. The left lane is for overtaking. It’s not your business to decide how fast other people go.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    So…

    The far right lane is for exits/onramps. People who slam on their brakes to take an exit at 5-10 mph, or who don’t accelerate into traffic causing HUGE problems when a merge lane ends. Also, see courteous (and masochistic due to the slow mergers) truckers.

    The middle lane is for drones in appliances going the speed limit. With cruise control. They never check a mirror, and usually are doing something other than driving – talking on a cell, eating. They are why the left lane is so important. Also, trucks that can’t be bothered with the face they are RUINING traffic patterns for everyone else on the road largely through obstructed visibility for ALL lanes.

    The left lane is hallowed ground. Often clogged by a simpleton, or an elderly person who has wandered into it and fallen asleep, it is to be used by people who are willing to risk a ticket at 10 over. People who are passing any of the traffic in the middle lanes. If you match the speed of the car to your right, you need to speed up or get over. Violation of the preceding will involve me executing an EXTREMELY dangerous right lane pass because you are more likely to get both of us killed.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      Hm, in my neck of the woods, the right lane is for 5-10 over, the middle for 15-25 over and the left for 25+ over (80 here).

      There isn’t really a place for people going the limit unless you want to block people in the right lane.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Florida just enacted a law that makes it a moving violation to impede the flow of traffic in the left lane, even if you are doing the speedlimit. I’m not sure how it will be enforced but it has been enacted and that’s a start I guess.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, somewhere in the mix of driver training courses — including those that emphasize “defensive driving” — the notion that driving is a cooperative venture among those who find themselves on the road together gets seriously lost. Oddly, if people cooperate with each other, everyone can get there sooner . . . and if people don’t, then everyone can waste some time.

    Most of the left lane banditry that I see does not involve people going under — or exactly at — the speed limit. Rather, it involves people going under the prevailing speed of the traffic around them, i.e. being uncooperative.

    The amateur psychologist in me attributes this to one of three things: (1) some people are so insecure that they can never defer to others — the proverbial “short person syndrome”, (2) some people think they are being “safe” by driving the speed limit and think that changing lanes is “unsafe” (they don’t want to get caught in the right lane behind some slow-moving truck), so they stay in the left lane and (3) people running on cruise control set just a hair below the threshold at which they’re going to get stopped or photo’ed by police radar.

    Many states have right of way rules that require people in the left lane to move to the right, but only if the left-laners are going under the speed limit. People exceeding the posted speed limit are considered to never have the right-of-way, so you don’t have to move over for them. The second confusing point is that some states prohibit passing on the right under all circumstances, but others do not.

    Trucks bring their own special set of problems. For a trucker, every m.p.h. is precious, so not slowing down for a slightly slower truck ahead — even if it takes 15 minutes to pass him — is what they do. I have been behind trucks which I am absolutely convinced have speed governors and where I am sure that the truck that is passing is “bouncing” off the governor, going 1 mph faster than the truck he is passing.

    Motorcycles hogging the left lane? Never seen that. I fail to understand how it can be “safe” to ride in the left lane below the speed of traffic and force cars to tailgate. Seems to me it would be safer to move to the right and let them pass. And, in motorists’ defense, the much smaller size of a motorcycle vis-a-vis a car or truck makes it more difficult to calculate a safe following distance. I think the natural tendency is to follow too close; I know I find myself doing that and having to consciously think about backing off some.

    But the real educational failing it seems to me is in not inculcating an understanding that driving is a cooperative venture, where cooperation benefits everyone. In my book, that’s the real “sin” of the left lane bandit: he’s being uncooperative.

    • 0 avatar
      buzzdsm

      Excellent

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      The problem with “cooperative” as a concept here, is that it’s insufficiently defined (whether in classrooms or in the eyes of other drivers). The line may be fuzzy between “oops i’m in the way” and “holy jeezus this guy’s a maniac”, but there’s a line nonetheless. When millions of drivers have differing ideas of where that line is, then it’s no wonder people casually toss out threats of violence. Every driver is free to interpret the law as they see fit.

      Imagine this logic applied to four-way stops:
      “That guy’s wheels were still turning! I have right of way.”
      “She didn’t get going fast enough for my taste. I have right of way.”
      “He’s coming to a full stop in front of me? GEEZ lemme give him the finger and yell at him in front of his kids.”
      “I’m having a bad day, and today I call right of way at every stop.”

      Besides the confusing law, I’m amazed at how many people let homicidal levels of anger course through their veins at people. “Cooperation” may well begin with anger management. But that’s another argument.

      My favorite solution is the law above: speeders never have right of way. Under-the-limit drivers must yield. All rules of courtesy (go left to allow merging, etc) are subservient to the above law.

      That way, you wouldn’t have infinite definitions of where the “moves over/speeds enough to avoid my rage” line is. Because as the law is written, we’ll keep having this same conversation forever.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Really? You have a hard time seeing a cooperative solution to a situation where you’re sitting in the left lane and somebody going faster than you comes up behind?

        OK . . . .

        I didn’t say that cooperation was a substitute for rules; but it complements them. Let’s take your 4-way stop example, which happens every day. People at the stop signs have to cooperate in figuring out who stopped first, since that person gets to go first. Many times, when there’s some doubt about that, one of the drivers will wave the other on. That’s cooperation.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      This sums it up perfectly!

    • 0 avatar
      bud777

      In Oregon, gridlock is four cars at a 4-way stop with each driver saying, “you go first…no you go first”.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    How about this. 65 zone. Huge string of trucks in right lane going 59mph. Truck in left lane, going 59.00001mph, attempting to pass the ENTIRE STRING. It makes you want to kill yourself.

  • avatar
    evan

    Awhile back I read some sort of study that suggested incompotent drivers loved the left lane becuase the guardrail on their immediate left made them feel ‘secure’…

    Of course, in such a situation there are no cars to pass you, except on your opposite side, and as you sit further away from them and have a whole side of a car for insulation, they appear less of a threat.

    Its a weird idea to people that can actually drive and feel in control of their car, but I can see how it might apply to many drivers.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Modern interstates have become “drive left, pass right at a high rate of speed then cut someone off as you dive back into the left lane before you get too close to the truck in the right lane”.

    During rush hour traffic flows much faster in the right lanes than the left lanes most days in my part of the world.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Part of the problem on the west coast of the US is that California has no lane discipline law. Passing on the right is perfectly legal here. Growing up in New Jersey, passing on the right was a sure way to get a ticket.

    Oregon, Washington and other western states have a lot of ex-Californians living in them, and those drivers never learned the habit of keeping to the right except to pass.

    • 0 avatar
      SWComp

      Rubbish. Its the native WA-type’s that are the worst. I lived in Seattle; occasionally return – it is horrible. California is light-years better.

      Quick quiz:
      what is the second slowest lane on I-5 in Seattle?
      > the left regular lane

      what is the slowest lane on I-5 in Seattle?
      > the freaking HOV lane

      – it has to be seen to be believed; many times I have driven at the speed limit for miles in the center lane constantly passing cars in the two lanes to the left. WSP does nothing to enforce the lane laws.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        I’d have to agree SW, I live in Seattle area and travel around the Western US for work. It’s really noticeable as I drive home from the airport, as compared to where I had just been driving for a day or two. CA has some bad traffic no doubt, but I’d say that the drivers in general are more on the ball and move right along when the conditions allow for it (for fear of getting shot at in some places?).

        In Seattle it’s common to see somebody merge onto the freeway (usually 10-15 mph below the prevailing speed) and immediately cut across multiple lanes to park in the “fast” lane. I want on-car missiles in those situations!

  • avatar
    JR2000

    Not just illegal or resource-wasteful, it’s unsafe as well. Being a left-lane bandit forces people to pass on the right, which introduces them to folks merging on and off the highway. The mergers are generally going at a sub-speed limit speed, and the passers are generally exceeding the speed limit. That differentiation of speed is dangerous.

  • avatar
    mountainman

    I would say that 85-90% of the time I pass someone on the right, the left-lane-liverlips is talking on a cell-phone.

    I agree with a lot of the comments, but I think the underlying problem is that these left-lane ninnies are just plain lazy. Think about it – to pass, you would signal, change lanes, see if you’re passed the car, signal again, and change lanes back to the right. That is, IMO, too much work for people. They are fat and lazy, and find it easier to just hang in the left.

    The best thing you can do … pass them, and stay far, far away.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Yeah, that’s the other thing. A distracted driver will drive pretty much entirely subconsciously, and that means keeping himself at basically the same speed as the drivers in their peripheral vision. Which means that the person is not only left-lane hogging but is usually blocking the right lane for passing as well.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      They do tend to look like they’re not paying much attention…

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    “PEMCO found that when faced with the prospect of a slow-moving vehicle in front of them, almost a quarter of respondents say that flashing their vehicle’s headlights is the most effective way to encourage left-lane violators to change lanes.”

    In almost 40 years of driving I have seen this technique used maybe 3 times. A much more common response to a slow poke in the left lane is to pass on the right.

    Lane discipline isn’t just for left lane bandits. Everyone – even the “good” drivers – will have to learn proper lane usage. That means staying right unless passing, but it also means not passing on the right.

    As near as I can tell, some left lane bandits are there because A) they don’t want to deal with mergers in the right lane and B) the people behind them have the right lane to pass, and do so routinely anyway.

    An aside – and this is just an observation, not a criticism- an article like this makes it seem you are channeling Car and Driver, circa 1974.

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      I’ll do a quick double-flash of my lights to signal a left lane camper that there is traffic (ie: me) behind him that is trying to pass, so he needs to speed up or move over. If there is no response after about 5-10 seconds, I’ll pass on the right.

      Also, I never flash the lights if there is no opportunity for the car in front of me to move over.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      I have a yellow button on the left handle bar of my motorcycle. It’s labelled “PASS”. It flashes the lights.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I was just talking about this to someone the other day. Flashing almost never gets anything but a nasty brake-check or hand gesture around here. I’m not dull enough to flash someone who can’t get over due to another car, unless they’re going the same speed as the other car, thus creating their own problem.

        In cars, the feature is called FLASH-TO-PASS. Why is this so hard to understand?

  • avatar
    liechter

    If it is nonoe of my business that you are breaking the law by speeding, then it is none of your busines that I am breaking the law by not moving over to the right. But I will cut you a deal: I will move over to the right as long as you will also follow all traffic laws.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Unless you are a police officer, you can’t control the actions of speeders. Blocking the left lane, however, only makes it worse: instead of speeders simply passing you smoothly, never to be seen again, they will force themselves into the right lanes, between slow and merging traffic, and cause unnecessary problems.

      It doesn’t matter whether or not blocking the left lane is illegal wherever you drive: nobody likes aggressive drivers aggravated by an obstructed left lane.

    • 0 avatar
      buzzdsm

      My speeding has no effect on you. Your law breaking has an effect on everyone behind you.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      If you want to prevent laws from being broken then you should stay out of the left lane. Here’s why:

      Regardless of what you do, I will speed.

      If you are in the right hand lane, I will speed past you. Number of illegal acts on my part = 1. Number of illegal acts on your part = 0. Total number of illegal acts = 1.

      If you are camping in the left lane I will pass you anyway, most likely while still speeding. It may be on the right or it may be on the shoulder, who knows. And you’ll be obstructing traffic. Number of illegal acts on my part = 2+. Number if illegal acts on your part = 1. Total number of illegal acts = 3+.

      So, you are motivating me to break additional laws in order to maintain my desired speed. It would be much better in terms of law and order if you just stayed in the right lane like you’re supposed to and didn’t worry so much about what I’m doing.

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      If you believe it your right to control the speed of your fellow drivers… then, of course, you’d have to believe that it is the right of other drivers to control your speed. Equality… and all that rot, you know.

      So, what you’re saying is that it’s appropriate for other driver’s to, via remote control, regulate the speed of your vehicle. If you don’t find that acceptable, the you must have issues with how you force other drivers to match your own driving speed, by blocking their ability to pass.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    During my Army daze, I recall seeing the autobahn from a helicopter and noting Germans lane discipline.

    I couldn’t find any bird’s eye videos to contrast current German lane discipline with North American general chaos. They’d be interesting to see side by side.

  • avatar
    steveua

    @sfbiker – whatever your reasons for left-lane camping, it doesn’t matter. You perceived view of ‘your’ safety over everybody else’s is insanely arrogant. Get OUT OF THE GD left-lane you asshat!

    And I +3 infinitys to the trucker comments – passing somebody for half and hour by 1/2 an MPH is no way to lead your life. But seriously, this is endemic on the highways in Alabama and Mississippi – Truckers do this because (a) they are the captain asshats of the driving world, because they do it for a living and the feel that the rest of us are just civilians, and (b) because they are driving kazillion ton vehicles they can’t really be intimidated, so they do what they please. They just don’t give a shit about the other drivers, cars just don’t exist as far as truck drivers are concerned. I hate them. I hate them so much. This whole conversation has filled me with great rage as I am forced to relive all of my worst highway experiences when pondering left-lane campers and truck driver.

    I really don’t think the Greeks gods could have come up with a better torture for Sisyphus than to force him to drive this nation’s interstates for several hours a day.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Ride in a truck for 30 minutes and your attitude will probably change 180 degrees. As a CDL holding truck fleet owner I can tell you that you will be amazed at the teenagers who think nothing of cutting off a 40 ton truck while talking on a cell phone, the old people who veer into your lane, the multitasking moms weaving all over the highway, oblivious to the massive truck that could squash them and their little snowflakes like a bug. It will scare you half to death.

      Remember, virtually all truck drivers that are found at fault in an accident are terminated immediately and most insurance companies will not allow another carrier to hire them. For that reason, not to mention their own and public safety, truck drivers take safe driving very seriously. That’s why very few accidents are caused by trucks. They are not perfect, but are hardly a serious problem compared with passenger car drivers.

  • avatar
    aspade

    The state pigs here nearly always set up shop along the the median and fish out of the left lane.

    The obvious conclusion is that it is safer to speed and overtake in the right (and center if available) lanes whenever the left lane is busy enough to provide an effective screen.

    Which is exactly what drivers have learned to do.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Can anyone tell me why Connecticut is so bad in terms of left-lane banditry? Massachusetts and Rhode Island have their share of left-lane bandits, too, but I find that every time I drive down I-95 or the Merritt Parkway in CT, there is always a line of bandits going 10 mph slower than everyone else, choking the flow of traffic.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    On days I’m feeling supremely anti-social, I will start pacing left/centre-lane bandits on their right-hand side. About half the time, they’ll notice me and try and speed up or slow down to shake me. And, about half the ones that notice me will eventually merge right if I pace them long enough.

    Yes, I recognize it’s insanely inconsiderate. On the other hand, the alternatives are using the high beams (which, if it gets their attention, will frequently turn into them trying to teach me some sort of lesson by slowing down or flipping me off), or passing them on the right (which just makes them someone else’s problem).

    For a real improvement, I’d advocate revoking the license of anyone who merges on the highway too slow. Anyone who thinks it’s suitable to try and merge at 35mph should be forcibly removed from their vehicle, since invariably, it’s not them that have to worry about a Mack truck up the rectum, it’s the long line of cars behind them. Get rid of those morons, and more people might just be willing to use the right lane. Hopefully.

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      I’ve found that if you pace a left-lane camper in the right lane, just slightly ahead of their front bumper… and then flick on your left-turn signal, 99/100 drivers will gun the engine and pass you AND stay at an elevated speed to gain plenty of distance on everyone.

      I’ve used it many times to break up a rolling roadblock caused by inattentive LLCs.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Bravo to Ed for taking on this issue. I hope some good ideas come out of the discussion, and I hope some folks in positions of influence pay attention.

    This heartland dweller used to see drivers from two states – Illinois and Ohio – dominate the left lane idiot standings. Then, in the mid-’90’s IIRC, the state of Illinois launched a campaign to ticket left lane bandits. Guess what? People suddenly learned how to drive. And the lesson seemed to stick – I rarely see IL plates hogging the left lane anymore. As to the other offending state: I just want to know what the maximum allowable score is on Ohio’s driver exam. They don’t get it. They were infamous when I was a runt in the 1960’s and 50 years later they haven’t changed.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Hmmmm… how I would solve this.

    1) Speed limits would be LIMITS. One of the reasons why we have so many lawbreakers in this country is that certain laws practically encourage it. The way we apply speed limits in this country is a classic example of this.

    2) The limits would be raised between 10 mph and 20 mph and reflect a safe driving speed for everyone on the road. On the highways, Left lane would be 85, middle lane 70-80 mph, right lane would be 65 mph (in most metropolitan areas.) Rural areas would have higher speed limits in the right hand lane and in certain instances, the left as well.

    3) Speed traps would be banned. In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to go to the Supreme Court to address this. But the question would inevitably become state rights vs. county/municipality rights.

    4) The focus of police enforcement on our roadways would be reckless driving. This would not only be the focus of cops on the road, but also a camera system would be applied to ensure enforcement. The later would give the police the opportunity to visit the perpetrator at their home (or intercept them beforehand) where they would have to deal with the consequences.

    5) Two time DUI = Loss of vehicle. Driving under the influence of narcotics or illegal substances would also potentially result in an immediate loss of the vehicle. But the opportunity to ‘manipulate the evidence’ would have to be thought out first.

    6) Impeding traffic would be addressed in the same way as reckless driving. A second offense in five years would require the offender to have a sticker on their rear bumper that bans them from driving in the left lane.

    7) Good drivers would be given a bit of slack with speed issues. If you go over the limit by a minimal amount (less than 10 mph) and had no offenses over the past five years, you get a warning.

    Finally…

    I would encourage to have some of the revenue lost be recovered through activities that focus on vehicle safety and driver performance.

    Drivers younger than 65 should be tested once every ten years. Older than 65 should be tested every year. Every car should be tested for safety issues (bald tires, turn signals, rust, etc.) every year once it’s five years old.

    Whatever we can’t recover through driver education and vehicle safety should be made up for with a gas tax. Electric vehicles would be taxed via their car’s annual registration and it would be based on the EPA’s miles per gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Steven Lang for President!

    • 0 avatar
      SWComp

      Second that. Amen.

      Sadly it will never happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Speed limits would be LIMITS. One of the reasons why we have so many lawbreakers in this country is that certain laws practically encourage it. The way we apply speed limits in this country is a classic example of this.

      This is exactly the problem. There is too much emphasis on measuring velocity, not enough on courteous, orderly driving.

      There isn’t much need for speed limits. The safest range of speeds is generally one based upon the prevailing flow of traffic, and that will vary based upon conditions. The purpose of a limit should be to advise those drivers who aren’t familiar with the road of the usual flow of traffic, not to impose some draconian limit that sucks up police power and slows drivers down unnecessarily.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      +7.
      I often wonder why politicos can’t get their limited brains around proposals like Mr Lang’s epic 7.

      The cynic in me thinks that there are too many sucky drivers who vote. They understand (in some demented way) that the enforcement system is crap. But it benefits them and they’ll crush anyone at the polls who wants to change things.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      YESSSSSSSSSSSS PLEASE. Run for president. If you make this your platform, I’ll vote for you!

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Instead of relying on our own internal suspicions of what motivates these people, is there any research that has asked them directly why they do it?

  • avatar

    Having completed a trip through many western states I concur the people of Washington state are unrepentant left lane bandits, and Oregon is not too far behind. But what set Oregon apart for me was the stupid 55 MPH (88 kmh)limit on state roads – Route 97 in particular – it was torture. Making it worse was seeing at least three speed traps in one of the straightest roads I ever travelled on.
    California was interesting as passing on the right seems perfectly all right with them, even after moving over to pass you still see them charging up the right lane. And left lane hogging does happen in Cali, such as that stupid green late 90’s Sable north of Santa Barbara, just not as bad IMHO.
    Truth is it’s bad all over NA, I would love to see the cops put down their radar guns and start enforcing lane discipline, but not too much money in that apparently.

  • avatar
    jsal56

    I dont want the government to address anything, just go away.

    According to the Constitution the Feds are supposed to protect us from aggression, that’s it.

    and just so you know I could not stand GWB and his programs any more than I can stand the current occupant.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Back in the day, I recklessly used the left lane to go as fast as possible without falling off the road. Anyone impeding my pursuit of minimum travel time got my horn [a couple of short beeps worked best] and high beams until they moved over or got passed. 40 years later, I’m an old enough crock to make sure that at least one driver is going faster than me [“bear bait”] while I sit on the limit away from the left lane. Yes, I’m the guy who lets the trucks, motorcycles and hotshots do their thing. If an LLB is causing a problem nowadays, I get away from him as fast as safely possible. HOWEVER: should the need arise, [hospital run?] I still know how to nudge slowpokes over. It doesn’t always work, and leads to taking stupid chances, but that’s life, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you there. Many years ago I would flash my lights and jump up and down and rant at the lemmings that seemed hell bent on getting in my way.

      It probably did not help my blood pressure.

      It certainly never got any response.

      I have slowed down and calmed down. I laugh at the lemmings now.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    how about adding a one for one zippering requirement too?

  • avatar
    kingofgix

    If there is one thing my many trips to Europe have taught, it is that US drivers SUCK! Left lane banditry is not the only example, but one of the worst. Living in Colorado, my other pet peeve is people that won’t let you pass. There are many curvy mountain roads here, and you can stuck behind the same slow asshat for miles without a chance to pass. I believe some NW states have a law requiring slow drivers to pull over, but why we don’t have it in Colorado is beyond me. Such a law would have saved me an hour last Sunday alone.

  • avatar
    william442

    Drive defensively, and carry a Thompson.
    At least in south Florida, I75, the left lane usually moves at about 85.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    How come obbop, Psar, PeriSoft and a few others haven’t been on here to comment about this? Vacation?

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    “I’m absolutely shocked by the number of people driving at or below the speed limit in the left lane”

    If the person is driving “at” the speed limit then what is the problem? If we are for enforcing laws here, then what about the “epidemic” of speed limit violators. The only times I have ssen backups in the left lane are when drivers exceeding the posted speed limit come up behind and tailgate another who is doing the limit and passing a slower, right-lane vehicle.

    I don’t necessarily always agree with the posted limit, but if you don’t like it then lobby to change it and get those elected who will. It’s kind of hypocritical to promote enforcement of one law (lane discipline) so that another can be more easily broken (speed limit).

    That’s my beef for the day.

    • 0 avatar
      buzzdsm

      The left lane is for passing period. Ignore what others are doing, if you’re in the left lane and not passing than you are in the wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        1996MEdition

        Extending that logic, the speed limit is what is posted. Period. If you are exceeding the speed limit, then you are in the wrong.

        My point is that typical complainers of left lane discpline have no problem with exceeding the speed limit. They are inconvenienced by others who use the left lane for legitimate reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        1996M – there IS no legitimate reason other than passing.

    • 0 avatar
      Frownsworth

      The speed limit in a lot of places is set by the median travel speed as determined by the periodical survey (every 7 years in some places, not sure exact numbers for most localities). If people frequently exceed the posted speed limit (even with in a standard deviation), and the survey says the local median speed increased significantly, then the local speed limit must be uprated to reflect that. At least, that is what is logically supposed to happen in a lot of places in North America when policeman performs the civil duty of service to the public, and not have to play the role of selective taxation for the next paycheque.

      In other words, I think if everyone in the left lane used the lane for passing, and the median travel speed goes up, then the speed limit will eventually take care of itself to reflect reality (supposing governments by then are not in a dire lack of funds).

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      There are times people need to get to someplace in a hurry, and I don’t mean a 10% off sale. You blocking their progress because you feel the need to appoint yourself as a junior police officer is pretty arrogant.

      You ever in a position of having little choice but to hustle it? A SFB intentionally blocking you is going to be far from well received.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      If the person is driving “at” the speed limit then what is the problem?

      The problem is with selecting the wrong lane. The left-hand lanes are for passing.

      If we are for enforcing laws here, then what about the “epidemic” of speed limit violators.

      I’m in favor of eliminating maximum speed limits on most highways for that very reason — absolute speed enforcement for the sake of it is a bad policy.

      From a traffic safety standpoint, “speeding” is usually relative to the flow of traffic, while highway speed limits are often set too low relative to the flow of traffic. As a result, we have quite a few violators whose speeds aren’t particularly unsafe — the problem is usually with the excessively low speed limit, not with the drivers.

  • avatar
    buzzdsm

    My speeding doesn’t effect you.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      You dramatically decrease my safety when you do it near me.

      I know where all the cars are around me are. When you dart into a space at high speed, are you drunk or drugged? Exactly how much will you gain by 27 lane changes that cause considerable braking that trigger slowdowns and stop-and-go traffic. You leave nothing but traffic flow wreckage if not actual crashes in your wake.

      Please slow it down to the speed limit when you are around me. Thank You.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Interesting opinions. I can’t stand left lane squatters and try my best to clear the left lane if others want to pass me. Keep right, except to pass! The driving culture in this country needs improvement. We are still a very conservative, passive group of drivers with a minimal level of road/driving education. In theory it sounds like Germans have their act together with regard to lane courtesy. It is certainly more efficient and hopefully safer.

    When I was in college, Apple put on a student movie contest. They provided video cameras and laptops to student teams and presented the films a few weeks later. One team thought it was a great idea to line up next to each other and drive the speed limit on 285 here in Atlanta. The point of their movie was to show how ridiculous the 55mph posted speed limit is. Unfortunately they had no practical foresight and just ended up pissing off everyone stuck behind their rolling road block. People honking, flashing, even desperately trying to pass in the shoulders. I’m not familiar with the laws, but I’m guessing what they did was illegal.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    120 comments!?! This seems to have some traction here.

    Some signs are best ignored. Southbound on I-5 at about milepost 97 where 3 lanes merge to 2, off the LEFT side of the highway is a sign that says “Lane ends merge left”.

    This area gets a lot of fog certain times of the year. This sign ensures a fair number of drivers drive out of the lane onto the shoulder before they realize there is no lane there.

  • avatar
    ixim

    Alright, let’s say what we all know is true. Too many drivers fail to see what’s right in front of them, let alone the vehicles behind or next to them; nor do they understand what they’re looking at. That semi/RV/5th wheeler chugging up some long grade? Just how much can he do to stay out your way, other than keep right? If he blocks you, live with it until you can pass safely. Those guys who think that they have a god given right to always exceed the limit, in any lane at any time? Wave ’em past if they’re on your tail; say thanks as they disappear into the distance. Laugh when they get pulled over. I drove power-challenged diesel minivans in Spain and Germany; the left lane speedsters had no tolerance for me in their lane; and rightly so.

  • avatar
    lakeuser2002

    I’ve given up doing trying to flash people. I just pass on the right if/when space permits.

    Unfortunately sometimes I drift a bit too far left when coming back to the left lane and my left tires catch some shoulder gravel and kick it up..

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    To quote late George Carlin: ‘Have you noticed that when you’re driving and some one is driving slower then you – they’re assholes! But when someone is passing you – they’re maniacs!’

  • avatar
    ehsteve

    Hanging out in the left lane and blocking traffic because of some kind of weird vigilante notion that everyone else should slow down is really messed up. What if someone is having an emergency and needs to get to the hospital? Those few seconds they lost because of you could be the difference between life or death. Move over.

    • 0 avatar
      Frownsworth

      Exactly… Nothing worse than a self-righteous, conservative driver who blindingly obeys rules where they see fit (speed limit no matter what), but ignores others where they actually reason (its okay to hang in the left lane even though it is used for passing because of, A, B, C…)

  • avatar
    bud777

    I have found something that works for me, but i am not really sure it is fair to other drivers. I welcome your opinion. If I am driving on an interstate, especially on with three lanes, I do the following: If the traffic is light enough to easily pass, I drive about 1-2 mph faster than the flow of traffic. I prefer to stay in the middle lane, but feel comfortable using the left lane as long as I am watching for someone coming up behind me. By barely exceeding the flow of traffic, only about 10 % of the vehicles will want to pass and they can be easily accommodated. This takes extra attention to match the flow and get out of the way, but I find it keeps me alert. Since my speed relative to the other traffic is 1-2 mph, the only way I am going to have a problem is overtaking a slower vehicle, so I change lanes to maximize the distance to the car ahead of me. The small speed differential is unlikely to attract police attention since I am blending with the other traffic.

    If traffic is too heavy to easily overtake, I drive in the middle lane, about 1-2 miles per hour slower than the flow. Traffic moves away from me and I am not worried about accidentally getting to close to the car in front of me.

    When there is no traffic, I use cruise control to keep from speeding excessively. Obviously if everyone did this it would not work, so shhhhhhhhhhhh.

    What do you think? Am I an asshat? Would this kind of driving offend you?

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mcs: @toolguy: No, it wasn’t his vehicle. In my world, I’ve never seen people buying cars to impress...
  • Arthur Dailey: @KC; I have not personally seen any masks that are just one layer, at the least two layers. if there...
  • Detroit-Iron: F1, like the IOC, supports slave labour, human rights abuses, and validating dictators and other...
  • mcs: One of the things they discovered about the effectiveness of conventional masks with kids is that it kept them...
  • kcflyer: I did find it interesting that the n95 filters particles smaller than the openings in the mask by magicly...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber