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Adventures of a stay-at-home, skeptical, homeschooling dad (etc.)


Oh My God! Left Lane Drivers!

tailgate It's the biggest threat our nation has faced in decades.

You probably heard the news if you've been near any website lately: People are driving in the left lane, and it's terrible! They're not only driving in the left lane: they're driving slower than you want them to! <dramatic orchestra hit: bum bum BUUUUM!>

There have been annoying Youtube videos and annoying news articles and annoying NPR segments, all saying that people shouldn't drive slow in the left lane and that the left lane is for passing.

And to that I say: correct <GASP!>. It is bad when someone drives slowly in the left lane… if they could safely move to the right lane, and if they aren't, in fact, actually passing people in the right lane.

All those types of articles whip up a frenzy in the tailgating asshole demographic[1], who comment with the same phrases like "If you're not passing someone, GTFOOMW!" and "Some jerk driving 51mph…".

But you know what? I rarely see those situations. I usually drive about 5 mph over the speed limit, and though I often get stuck behind someone driving more slowly than I would like, I almost never get stuck behind someone who doesn't move to the right when there's space.

But what does happen every fucking time I drive on the interstate, is someone will tailgate me by less than a car length. When I'm in the left lane, I'm either passing someone, or there's a line of cars in front of me, or the road is so crowded that both lanes are essentially full, but someone will always be tailgating me, and sometimes flashing their lights for me to move over, even though the cars to my right make that impossible.

And when I finally get one car length ahead of the car on the right I am passing, there's a 50% chance the person tailgating me will get dangerously close to me to pass me on the right, long before it would be safe for me to pull over to the right lane (ie when I can see, in my rearview mirror, most of the front of the car I'm passing).

I'm betting that 90%+ of the commenters complaining about "slow left lane drivers" are not complaining about legitimate left lane abuses like someone refusing to move over when they could safely do so. They're complaining about people like me, who are doing the right thing.

When someone claims that they "had to pass someone on the right", I'd say there's a great chance they just didn't wait until the person was far enough ahead to safely move over. And when they say "move over if you're not passing", they mean "You're not passing fast enough." And when they say "driving slowly", they mean anything less than they want to drive, which is dangerously fast.

I'm sure there are people who drive slowly in the left lane and don't move over when they should, but I'm also fairly certain most of said reports are fantasies designed justify the tailgator's poor driving habit. Be honest with yourself: how many people you tailgate are actually refusing to move over? (Not that a car refusing to move over makes tailgating OK: it's still dangerous and stupid and stupidly dangerous.) Are they actually passing someone? Or maybe the cars on the right make it impossible to get over? I'm betting the percentage of "refusals" is very low compared to the "can't move over yets".

In conclusion, if you're going to risk my life in a pathetic attempt to get home to your sad life 5 minutes earlier, at least stop lying about it: own up to it! Don't blame others, simply say: "I admit I am a thoughtless, selfish, dangerous driver. Sorry, it's just the way I am."

The left lane is for passing