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The Loathing of the Left Laners

I almost made it through the comments without getting mad. And then "Me" posted this:

"MD Driver is right. There is no "passing lane" in Maryland. It's just a lane, and the left-laners can stay there if they so choose.

Sorry."

This pretty much sums the left laner 'tude. I can stay there if I want and there's nothing you can do about it. I reckon that's so, whether there's a "passing lane" law or not. But the fact that you can totally misses the point. We can do lots of things in life that we choose not to do because they fall into that vast and undesirable category of "not cool." The question is WHY do you want to stay in the left lane. You know you shouldn't be there. You know it causes backups. You know it makes the highway less safe. And yet you persist, simply because you can and to the detriment of the rest of us. It's the control thing and you really need to get over it.

Other posters wondered whether I meant for this to apply to congested or two-lane highways, to which I say: most especially! A couple people brought up the example of I-81, which is overrun with cars, trucks and mountains, making it hard for people to move easily in and out of the left lane. I can appreciate that and if traffic is rolling along in both lanes at 75 mph. then I say fine.

But it's my belief that left laners cause many of the backups on the two-lane portion of I-66. What happens in crowded areas on two-lane highways is that inevitably some slow-poke (not slow like 55 mph, but slow like 40 mph) sits in the left lane. There's no way to get around this person because there are too many cars in the right lane, so traffic starts to back up for long distances. (No less an expert than Tom Cruise opines on this "fascinating" phenomenon in Mission Impossible 3.)

It happens every night on I-66 east. Cars back up for a couple miles and then clear out after the Glebe Road exit. And every time you get past Glebe you find some slow-poke in the left lane. I'm not saying that these people are the cause of all the congestion, but I am saying that if they moved to the right, the congestion would be a lot more manageable.

I'll close with the wise words of one of our anonymous posters:

"Keep right except to pass. Pass and then move back to the right.

That's all I have to say."


By Washington Post Editors  |  June 5, 2006; 4:31 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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Next: Bad Commuter Week, Part 2

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