Monday, May 02, 2005

At Long Last

It looks like law enforcement might finally, finally be ready to do something about the morons who drive too slow in the left lane. Details here.

In Colorado, state police have written more than 500 tickets to left lane hogs since the beginning of the year; in Florida, a bill is on the legislative docket that would impose a $60 fine and four DMV "demerit points" on the driving record of motorists who refuse to allow faster moving traffic by.

Twenty years ago, this would have been an unthinkable violation of the politically correct orthodoxy that only "speed kills" -- and therefore only enforcing speed limits (no matter how absurd or contrived) matters.

But in fact, people who refuse to move right represent a major traffic safety hazard -- whether "they doing the speed limit" (as they often bleat in self-righteous high dudgeon) or not.

By refusing to allow other motorists to get by, the left lane dawdler causes traffic to back up unnaturally; drivers then angrily jockey for position -- and typically are forced into making a passing attempt in the right lane to get around the hog -- who seems to get some sort of weird passive-aggressive satisfaction from his obstinacy.

The situation is frustrating, distracting -- and very unsafe. In fact, the lack of reflexive lane courtesy in this country is arguably the biggest single safety problem we have -- not "speeding."

Consider the example of Germany -- where yielding to faster-moving traffic is part of the national culture and adhered to religiously. As a result, it is possible for the Germans to have unlimited speed Autobahns -- where drivers in the left lane often overtake other cars at tripe digit speeds. But because German drivers are taught to use their mirrors -- and immediately move right to allow faster-moving approaching cars to pass -- they have a lower accident and fatality rate than we do here in the United States with our dumbed-down speed limits.

I've driven on the autobahn. Oh how sweet it is to have people do a simple thing called getting the hell out of the way. And I feel no resentment about the Mercedes coming up behind me at 130 mph as I merge over to the right doing only 95.

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