By on June 18, 2012

Please say a friendly hello to TTAC’s newest author, Virgil Hilts.

Brock Yates called them “members of the Anti-Destination League.” You and I have our own pet names for the folks who dawdle along in the fast lane, oblivious to those around them.

I have recently deduced that the auto-demographics of Left Lane Blockers has shifted. Over the past 30 years, no automobile has come close to the most common clogger: the Cadillac. Was the traditional Caddy owner taught to drive in the left lane as teen? Does owning the “Standard of the World” give you some entitlement to annoy your fellow man? Whatever the reason, I am here to announce that the Cadillac’s reign is over. All hail the new King of the Left Lane Realm:

The Toyota Prius.

Here in Los Angeles, smug little liberal Prius owners fly in formation below the speed limit in the fast lane, as the rest of us zoom around them on the right. I don’t even know what a driver’s door looks like on a Prius. Some of them have forgotten that – in a rare moment of sanity by the California DMV – that their Hybrid/ HOV lane privileges were canceled last year. Yet there they are, still glued to the left guardrail, waiting for the car pool lane 22 miles ahead. Ultimately I think their behavior is motivated by their mindset: “I own a Prius and I drive slow to save the planet and, by God, so should you.”

There is no more joyous occasion than to see a LLB get a flat tire and pull onto the median in heavy traffic and be stuck there until help arrives. I have seen many a Caddy in this fix and look forward to my first such Prius sighting. I plan to pull over in my 14-mpg SUV and when they walk up to thank me for stopping, I will zoom off yelling, “Sorry, the wife called. There’s a desert tortoise in the backyard, and them’s some good eatin!”

I realize there may be some geographical variances to the Prius phenomenon.  In Phoenix, the beige Buick Le Sabre is a strong contender. I have been blocked by hubcapless Subarus in Colorado. But Toyota’s answer to the Nash Rambler rocks the left lane everywhere. My fellow Southern Californians may argue that the rash of 1990s tiny Toyota pickups piloted by illegal aliens holds the crown, but this measurement is for American Drivers only, my contest, my rules.

Here is my new ranking of the Top 5 Left Lane Blockers:

1. Toyota Priuses
2. Cadillacs
3. Volvo Wagons (the more bumper stickers, the slower they drive)
4. 1980s Customized Vans
5. 1990s Kia/Hyundai/Daewoo crapmobiles

So which cars are blocking the fast lane on your highways?

The man behind “Virgil Hilts” has been working “in the industry” for most of his life. He still does.

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68 Comments on “Tales From The Cooler: Prius Dethrones Cadillac. In The Left Lane...”

  • avatar

    1. Ford full size trucks
    2. Toyota full size trucks
    3. Dodge full size trucks
    4. GM full size trucks
    5. Nissan full size trucks

    • 0 avatar

      raph must be a Prius owner

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Raph nailed it.
      On my commute, every full sized pickup has the pedal to the metal and occupies the left lane. The problem comes when they catch up to a line of traffic “only” going 10 mph over the 65 mph speed limit. In their zeal to get around the “slowpokes”, they start shifting lanes which in turn causes inappropriate braking leading to a big slowdown for everyone.
      I just want to know where I can get some of that free gas because these guys drive like they stole the truck, the gas in it or both.

      • 0 avatar

        Problem is, the context is “left lane BLOCKERS” – people going “pedal to the metal” fast in the left lame aren’t blockers.

        (The rest of the behavior you describe, while bad driving, still isn’t blocking the left lane, just being a dumbass. Which of course I’ve seen in plenty of Priuses, Volvos, and Subarus*.

        * The Big Three marker of “probably a bad driver that thinks they’re awesome” around here in the Northwest.)

    • 0 avatar
      fintail jim

      Yes, here in Texas these five are glued to the left lane even better than striping but they are not holding up traffic. If anything they are consistenly traveling at 10-15 mph over the speed limit.

      There are few thrills greater than pulling into the left lane to pass some Bozo weaving around while talking on his cell then looking in the rear view mirror to see it full of F150 or Ram grille. By the way, why is it only pickup trucks that have chrome grilles (even though only plastic) these days?

      • 0 avatar

        Concur. The lack of brake performance does not stop many truck or SUV drivers from tailgating in Texas. You can be in a high performance car that can stop on a dime driving a nearly too short distance behind an LLB with no way to pass, and these wingnuts will tailgate your butt so close you can’t read their plates.

        My Landcrusher, and soon my Volvo wagon, are only in the left lane for passing, thank you very much, so if you are tailgating me I WILL slow to gain the braking distance YOU need to keep from crashing me into the LLB. Suck it!

        Btw, any Buick is the most likely LLB followed by panther bodies, and anything driven by an idiot or immigrant.

    • 0 avatar

      Must not live in Texas

    • 0 avatar

      Where I live, the LLBs tend to be anyone with out-of-state plates and they usually don’t even drive more than 5mph over the speed limit. It’s very frustrating when you’re trying to pass someone in front of you that’s slow and the person next to you? Also slow.

      I do occasionally end up behind a Prius driver obsessed with hypermiling (to a point where they’re going 50-55 and everyone else is at least 60-65 in a that 55 zone).

      • 0 avatar

        There’s a difference between the true left-lane blocker (going at or below the speed limit in the left-lane) and those that think the left is the “fast-lane” as opposed to the passing-lane. Full size trucks almost always fall into the latter category, the go about ten over in the left-lane and think “well I’m going fast enough, I can just hang out here”. They are however usually more likely to get over when you come up on them at speed or flash your lights. The true blocker will not be moved under any circumstances.

    • 0 avatar

      Not around here. I mean, sometimes, but they’re not the Obvious Gross Offender.

      (And where on Earth are you that there are more Tundras than Rams? I mean, I don’t mind that, but it sure ain’t like the mix I see here. And I can’t recall the last time I even *saw* a Titan, in any lane.)

  • avatar
    CA Guy

    The Prius is #1, no doubt about it. I would put Virgil’s #5 as #2 and add later model sewing machine powered cars such as the Yaris and Versa to this group. #3 and #4 work for me. I don’t see enough Cadillacs on the road in my areas of SoCal to be annoyed by them anymore. One final observation: Prius drivers clog up the left lane in four and six lane city streets even more so than on the freeway. Given the high volume of smug Prius owners on the heavily congested west side of LA, this problem is a daily annoyance on streets such as Wilshire Boulevard.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I love blowing past these on the right and cutting them off with 4-5′ of space. I think I’m actually giving the Volt a bit of a bad reputation round these parts, but it’s just so easy to forget how fast you’re going..

  • avatar

    As often as not it is a good old boy in a big pickup truck or someone with Florida plates. My personal favorite is the guy who flys past in the fast lane ignoring the left lane closing signs which the rest of us have seen for miles and then is offended when he ends up in the median because of bunched up traffic full of cars that planned ahead. See a lot of older muscle cars doing this trick.

  • avatar

    1. Toyota Priuses
    2. 2010-> Toyota/ Honda/ crapmobiles
    3. Volvo Wagons (the more bumper stickers, the slower they drive)
    4. Nissan Maximas and Altimas
    5. SUVs which should be in the center.

    And this is part of the reason I boosted the power in my car. Now, I’ll just rocket into the right lane – pass – and then rocket back into the left lane 200 feet in front of you doing upwards of 85mph.

  • avatar

    1. Toyota Camry
    2. Toyota Corolla
    3. Honda Odyssey
    4. Buick Century
    5. Honda CR-V

  • avatar

    1. All Toyota products, including Lexus, especially Camry and ES
    2. Buicks
    3. Saturns
    4. Honda Oddesy
    5 Lincoln Town car

  • avatar

    Afghanistan List –
    1. The HiLux
    2. The land Cruiser
    3. Oh wait, I don’t think there is a multi lane road to be found here.

  • avatar

    Where did you come up with this super original and insightful topic? Browsing the comments section at Autoblog seems likely.

    • 0 avatar

      Bingo. This garbage, combined with the “What’s a manly car” question posed to Sajeev, has me worried that the 15-year-old mentality has migrated to TTAC.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        +1. Not to mention larding the post with political flame bait. I hope this isn’t an indication of the direction TTAC is going.

      • 0 avatar

        For those of us stuck in LA, or most other metro areas, slowpokes have much bigger effect on average speed than any of the more commonly talked about features of cars, like horsepower and handling. I was once literally held up by a Panamera 4s going down a twisty road; and I was in a bloody Uhaul box van.

        And I’m not some sort of psycho box van racer, if such a thing should exist. Moral of the story; lane etiquette matters. Pass on the left ONLY or lose your license, is only viable if slower moving traffic leave enough space to the left of them to actually make a pass. The Germans, Swiss, Austrians, Scandinavians and others can do it, why not Americans? Because some nasty coquetry of tax feeders and lawyers have blown their/our heads full of “it’s my riiiight…..” ? Or simply to rub it in once and for all that the de facto state religion in post christian America is incompetence?

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah +1

      This was an absolutely pathetic post. All the same tedious buzz words and untrue stereotypes were there:

      Drive slow to save the planet

      etc. etc. etc.

      TTAC is better than this absolute garbage. Or at least I thought it was. Beware chasing pageviews with “conversation starting” junk like this – sure, you may get an uptick in the short term, but you will lose a lot of the people who actually make this site worth reading, ie the best and brightest.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep, it’s just a sack of empty cliches that tell us more about the author than they do about the subject matter. The piece is neither informative nor entertaining; it’s just lame.

        I’d dismiss it as being juvenile, but that would be an insult to kids. I hope that publishing this sort of thing reflects a temporary lapse in editorial judgment that won’t be repeated.

        (And no, I don’t drive a Prius.)

      • 0 avatar

        The fear is that since the last 2 new contributors have committed these same fouls within a week, that TTAC has embarked on a new path.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        -10. I agree totally with the article, and still wish I had a RPG. Especially for this weenie.

  • avatar

    Left lane bandits come in all makes and models. This morning it was a mid nineties Dodge Ram painted three different colors. He was being a d-bag and refusing to move for a new Ford Edge.

    Of course, once the Edge driver realized that there was a silver Crown Vic with a blacked out grill and a blue Kojack light on the dash behind him, he moved over and then the Dodge Ram immediately moved over as well. The Edge fell in behind me and was able to get past the Dodge.

    No one wants the silver Crown Vic with the blacked out grill behind them. No one.

  • avatar

    1) Contractor vehicles. The brand doesn’t matter. If it’s got ladder racks or shingle on the side, odds are good it’s in the left lane wasting my time. I don’t know why, but this goes double for rigs with an IBEW sticker.

    2) BMW 5 series and up. There’s something about the cars that makes the driver want to lollygag in the left lane while screaming into the ether of the in-car bluetooth. Who are you screaming at? we’re all screaming at you.

    3) New York tags. If you have the blue and gold, you have an unnatural affinity for the left lane that defies logic. This goes double for minvans in and around the 5 boroughs, and it’s always ALWAYS an Odyssey or Sienna.

    I don’t get the hate for Caddilacs. They’re the best ones out there. Right after they’re bought, they promptly get parked in a retirement community and only come out on Sunday mornings for church and possibly early bird dinner specials.

    and I don’t have a problem with Prii, either, but I don’t have left exit HOV lanes, either.

    • 0 avatar

      Having personally driven contractor vehicles, I think laziness plays a part in it, along with not being familiar with the vehicle…It’s like, ok in 37 miles I need to be in the left lane, might as well just stay there…

      As far as NY goes, I still have the blue and white :)…but I agree about the Odyssey and Sienna..

  • avatar

    The worst offenders here in Central Kentucky are members of the “Buckeye Navy,” our local term of derision for Ohio tourists towing their boats down to Lake Cumberland or on down to Tennessee. I-75 is six lanes (or more) wide from the Ohio border to just past Berea in the center of the state, yet the Buckeyes insist on dragging their boats along in the left lane instead of the center or right lane where they belong. This is the worst time of year for them, particularly from Friday afternoon (headed south) to Sunday evening(headed north).

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, I don’t live in SoCal and visit there only occasionally, so I can’t claim any insight into left lane banditry in the Golden State. However, much as the opportunity to hate on owners of Priuses tempts, I have to say that here in The Capital of the Free World, I don’t think it’s possible to generalize on the identity of left lane bandits. As in California, the State of Virginia’s grant of HOV lane preference to single-occupant hybrids has stiumlated lots of Prius sales . . . but I don’t see them hogging the left lane.

    The worst case of left lane banditry that I see consistently is I-81 through Virginia (not really metro DC, I admit). I-81 is only 4 lanes and has lots of truck traffic. It’s very common for truck A in the left lane to be going 1 mph faster than truck B. Since there aren’t any significant grades on I-81, I have to assume that truck A is maxing out on his speed governor, which is set just a tiny bit fast than that of the truck he is passing.

    Meanwhile, there’s a nice backup behind the “speeding” truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      How far into western VA do you go on I-81? There’s plenty of hills in the Roanoke/Christiansburg/etc area.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto. Traffic in the DC area is an equal opportunity offender, with slowpokes in all lanes, speeders in all lanes, and general as-hattery all over. That, and any significant backup on a highway will affect all lanes about equally in my experience.

      I definitely concur with the complaint of passing trucks on I-81, especially with the grades found in the Roanoke – I-77 entry section. They’ll speed way up going down the hill and pass each other, then whoever has the most power will crawl past the next guy on the long uphill, generally under the speed limit, until they crest the hill and switch positions again on the next downhill. Insanity. It makes for a stressful trip in our Prius.

  • avatar

    Wow, a shallow diatribe about Prius drivers. If this is the best that you’ve got to offer, Virgil, you’d better take some time to review the archives of TTAC. Pretty weak tea, this.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      You must not be a driver if you don’t absolutely detest left-lane bandits and/or members of the ADL. You must be a member.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      You must not be a driver if you don’t absolutely detest left-lane bandits and/or members of the ADL. You must be a member. Now I will wait 5 minutes for my comment to load. What’s the deal with this super-slow website?

  • avatar

    I don’t really see that much of a pattern to LLBs here in LA, but maybe I don’t drive enough on the west side. (I drive a lot on the 710, too many semis and too much diesel exhaust for sensitive Prius drivers.)

  • avatar

    In Houston, Beware the Camry. And the Avalon.

    Friend of mine referred to getting stymied in the left lane as “getting Buicked”, and I think that holds true — Buicks and Buick-like vehicles (the aforementioned Camry/Avalon, Honda Accords, many Mercury models, etc.) — cars driven by people who hate to drive and seek out Transportation Appliances as a result.

  • avatar

    FWIW, I usually glance over at left lane cloggers as I pass them on the right, and the majority of them are holding a cell phone to their ear. Poor multitaskers, apparently.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Well when I was a teen – (1990-1996 or so) the undisputed king of the “Anti-Destination Leauge” had Buick’s Trisheild on it somewhere.

    Now in my travels those slowpoke vehicles tend to be Toyota badged (Prius or not).

  • avatar

    Personally, I thought this post was terrific.

    Around here, it usually seems to be any variety of Toyota, Nissan or Skoda (UK).

  • avatar

    As an Indian driving on midwestern roads, I have to ask you folks an honest question. Is it OK to honk and keep constantly honking at the left lane campers?
    I know it is usually a bad idea to be such a di*k on the road, and in most cases, the people I am trying to get my message across are not paying attention/will cancel all future plans of changing lanes due to my di*k behavior, buy I still feel the urge to let them know that they are camping.
    To date, I have only used my headlights and that doesn’t seem to deliver the message. I patiently wait behind a left lane camper for about 30 seconds, then start tailgating for about a minute and then resort to flashing high beams before finally giving up and passing them on the wrong side. Although, in the back of my head, I keep telling myself to stop bothering and just pass them on the right (when possible).

    So, should I try honking? Or is it a bad idea?

    • 0 avatar

      Generally I’d say that it’s a bad idea to use your horn that way. It’s unlikely to have a positive effect on the offender and will mostly serve to reinforce negative streotypes about Indians. We midwesterners are mostly a very reserved and polite lot (even if not the most attentive drivers), yet the most effect that you’re likely to get would be to initiate a road rage incident. Efforts to teach road manners while on the road are doomed to failure. You can’t fix stupid.

    • 0 avatar

      A regular honk is actually appropriate to warn the driver you are passing through his blind spot. Leaning on it must be reserved for offenders that have caused a serous hazard like the ones that match the speed of the car in the right lane for several miles.
      Recently spent a good 15 minutes behind a Crown Vic with a West Point sticker on I-10. I don’t care if you retired with four effing stars, don’t block an interstate in Texas! A DPS trooper wouldn’t pull that stunt.
      Academy Grads, sheesh.

  • avatar

    I’ll join the small chorus as being less than thrilled by another of these Prius posts. I’ve split my time between the Bay Area and the LA Basin for the past 10 years, and have ABSOLUTELY NO ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE of your claim. And let’s make sure we all understand, this is all anecdotal, yours and mine. But you get paid for your anecdotes, even if they regurgitate an oft-repeated internet meme that many of us have grown tired of reading.

    My anecdote is that traffic on these freeways rarely moves at a speed fast and consistent enough to ever allow for the left lane as fast/passing lane only. It’s just another lane, and if you have no upcoming exits, you use it. So-Cal freeways ain’t the autobahn. Where’s my check?

    • 0 avatar

      For whatever another set of anecdotal observation is worth, here in NH Ohio I’ve seen a lot more Prii sitting on my rear bumper (and I don’t drive slowly!) than clogging the left lane ahead of me.

  • avatar

    How would *anyone* in California know about left lane hogs? They’re *all* in the left lane – honestly, Californians have the worst lane discipline of any group of drivers in the civilized world. The drive on Highway 101 from Ventura to Santa Barbara is an absolute clusterf*ck of entitled idiots in all makes of cars. I don’t even exaggerate when I say that the ratio of cars runs about 15:1 left:right. It boggles the mind.

  • avatar

    The liberal stereotyping is a bit much. I happen to be kinda liberal, yet I drive a GTR (quickly), and move right at every opportunity no matter how fast I’m going. Down here in Texas, soccer moms in gas guzzling SUVs are a much more common sight parked in the left lane than save-the-planet-mobiles.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised noone has mentioned old, seventies era, Mercedes diesels. At least if you’re stuck behind a Prius, you can still breathe.

  • avatar

    I’d have to agree with Virgil to some extent. I waste more gas passing Prii than they save. Corollas too.

    Disagree about pickup trucks though. I’m shocked how often I see lifted trucks going 85+.

    Also, on my commute in SoCal, lane discipline is not practiced as every lane is full anyway.

    And finally, I’m a liberal and would not drive a Prius if it were free.

  • avatar

    What I enjoy is when I’m cruising at 85 in the middle lane of I-75 and I get passed by a Prius or a Versa. I used to consider it an accomplishment getting my mother’s piece of shit ’00 Hyundai Accent up to a hundred for a five second period and people are cranking these cars up and down the highway all day.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I however love the irony of being passed by a Prius when I’m doing 85

  • avatar

    Base-model Centurys and LeSabres always used to be the worst vehicles to get stuck behind, but they (and their owners) are dying off.

    Today’s dumbfoundingly slow left-lane hogs seem to gravitate to the CR-V, RAV4, Equinox, and whatever all the billion other equivalent SUV-shaped-car things are called.

  • avatar

    I’m one of those ‘smug little liberals’ and you’ll find my Honda Fit in the left lane when I’m passing. I’m not saying there’s never a Prius there, but my anecdotal is that I probably see more 14mpg SUVs with 8 year of W stickers driving slow in the left lane than Prii. I certainly think passing lane squatters come in all shapes, sizes and political leanings. But red versus blue has very little to do with having respect and good manners towards other drivers on the road. I’d say a little respect for others would go a long way in all sorts of endeavors, if see what I’m saying there Mr. Hilts.

  • avatar

    In Michigan where the Prius is far less popular the top LLB vehicle has to be the PT Cruiser, almost always driven by someone who looks to be in their early 60’s of either gender. I’ve begun to cringe every time I see a PT ahead on the highway because I know its going to be a battle to get around them.

    The absolute worst blockers I’ve ever experienced out-of-state are Mini-van vacationers with stuff strapped to the luggage rack. It plays out the same every time. They get in the left-lane, set the cruise just fast enough to get past the semis and will not leave. I can just imagine their philosophy is “Hey, I’m in this POS I don’t want to drive, I’ve got a ton of crap poorly-secured to the roof, and I am not changing lanes till we get to Orlando.” Crowd, tailgate, flash the high-beams, they will not be budged. The only satisfaction I’ve ever got is throwing a fountain-pop at them when I finally get by on the right.

  • avatar

    Although the right side is the passing lane, same here in Japan, Prius is the most annoying.
    Removing one Prius from the lane is not too hard, but they run in a convoy mode these days.
    Another blockeres are the trailers running at their full speed, which is errh 70 mph. These are the trucks behind the schedule to deliver parts to the factories of “Just in time” system, which of course Toyota invented.

    As the result, driving highway is very boring and flustrating act.
    Toyota claims young people lost passion to the cars, and sales declining. Congraturations you deserved it!

  • avatar

    If I had a Prius, I’d drive it like an Audi, just to confuse people like you!

  • avatar

    I blow past Prius’ daily in Seattle. It’s infuriating. Go save the world in the right lane.

    I didn’t mind the trucks when I lived in Texas. They usually hauled ass.

  • avatar

    In my daily communte here in SW PA there seems to be a greater amount of LLB behavior from the Jeep community. With top dishonor going to the Compass.

  • avatar

    In my daily commute here in SW PA there seems to be a greater amount of LLB behavior from the Jeep community. With top dishonor going to the Compass.

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