Friday, 13 June 2008

Driving Lessons - Do It RIGHT!

Pet peeve: 2, 3, 4, and even 5 lanes of traffic all moving at the same speed. I'm not talking about during rush hour traffic jam. I'm talking about the typical American driver who enters a multi-lane roadway and immediately moves over to whatever lane he or she thinks she needs to be in - with absolutely no relation to what speed current traffic is traveling. I have observed that most of us have an almost visceral fear of being "trapped" by anyone else - God forbid we are held up one nanosecond by someone else. So, despite these words taken directly from the Washington State Driver's Guide: "On a road with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, stay in the right lane except to pass. On a road with three or more lanes traveling in the same direction, if there is a lot of entering or exiting traffic, use the center travel lane." (my emphasis) I rarely see any drivers move to the right when there is room for them to do so after passing or worse, they are cruising along obliviously going the same speed as the vehicle in the lane to their right, or even 2 or 3 lanes to their right. Taking this fear of the right to the extreme I have observed the bizarre behavior of drivers dropping passengers at Sea-Tac Airport from the 2nd or 3rd lane out from the curb - even if there is space at the curb! I guess they think someone will pull up on their left and they will be trapped, perhaps forever, listening to the recorded airport drive announcements again and again and again.

People, PLEASE - there is a better way! If you want to stay out of the furthest right lane to allow free access for those entering and exiting well bully for you but don't drive in the furthest left lane or lanes unless you are actively passing someone. After you have passed, move right. If you see another car come up behind you traveling faster than you, move right. If you are being passed on the right, move right. If a driver behind you flashes their lights at you, move right. Once we are all on the same page with this there will always be the opportunity to move left to pass a driver in front of you. Really, it works, I've seen it in action. Oh, and please use your turn indicators - it is safe and polite - 2 things we could all use more of on our highways and biways.

Now exiting the soap box. Comments in support of my position only accepted. Happy driving!


Shan said...

You nailed it. This is arguably my biggest pet-peeve with drivers in Seattle. Or anywhere for that matter. Yes - yes - yes: stay in the right lane except to pass!! I've found that drivers in Italy are exceptional when it comes to leaving the left hand passing lanes open for faster traffic.

tripieper said...

This has definitely become clearer to me after spending time driving in England (of course there it is all about stay LEFT except to pass but the same idea). I try to demonstrate this technique to other drivers but most seem clueless. Sigh.