Thursday, October 6, 2011

Right lane allergy

from: Daytona Beach, FL, USA
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I have lived near major interstates pretty much all my life, especially my adult life. By this I mean an interstate highway which has 3 or more lanes per direction which is within 2 miles of my house. A good example of this is the Bohrman Expressway in northwest Indiana. I-80/94, the fastest non-toll road into Chicago, has had 3 lanes for as long as I can remember. (A few years ago, they added a fourth lane to it.)

In a place like northwest Indiana, where the traffic is thick and the exits are only a mile or two apart, or over in Chicago where it's considerably worse, I can see why people might develop an allergy to being in the right-most lane. That's where the entry and exit ramps are, and keeping out of that lane means you're not in anyone's way.

But here in Florida, on the stretch of I-95 that I live near where there are 3 lanes to travel in and the exits are few and far between, I still see people exhibiting this allergy.

Most of the people here are from the New York area, so they probably know how to drive almost as well as I do, which makes it surprising that they would discriminate against a lane when, where they learned to drive, all lanes are needed to get anywhere.

I've driven all over the country (excepting 4 states) and seen this happening everywhere. I even see it on the vast majority of roads which have only 2 lanes in each direction, and the frequency seems to increase every year. What is this fear people have of driving in the right lane? I can see no reason why people would feel compelled to stay out of it, but as I write this (last weekend of September), I'm on the road to attend my niece's graduation from law school and my dad hasn't been in the right lane for more than the 2 seconds it took to get across it when we got on the road half an hour ago.

You're supposed to be in the right lane unless you're engaged in passing someone, or if there's an emergency vehicle on the right shoulder. Most people also have the courtesy to move over if someone's trying to enter the highway. But the rest of the time, you're supposed to be in the right lane.

Why? Because doing so promotes better traffic flow. It allows the drivers anxious to get speeding tickets to get past those who drive in 2nd gear. And it's the law, if that matters.

You probably hate getting stuck behind a long line of cars, like everyone else does. If the rules of the road didn't tell us to keep right except to pass, the highways would be unbearably clogged with even half the traffic they now carry. I see it in places where this is ignored.

So do us all a favor and keep right, except to pass. And when passing, if you have to speed up a little bit to complete the operation in under 10 seconds, please do so. It's not just common courtesy, it's the law.

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