Highway Driving Protocol

Having recently returned from a long driving trip, I’m reminded yet again that many drivers are oblivious to highway driving protocol. Or, they flat out ignore it.

Either way, they are causing trouble.

So to reiterate: the right lane is for cruising, and the left lane is for passing. Please allow me to elaborate on how this affects you.  And therefore, of course, me.

IF YOU … find yourself in the left lane, going the same speed as the traffic in the right lane, get over into the right lane. You are clogging things up.

IF YOU … are intent on cruising in the left lane and never, ever, moving into the right lane, here’s an idea: just stop yourself. Get with the program. The world doesn’t exist to serve your needs.

IF YOU … are intent on enforcing speed limits, by driving the speed limit in the left lane, on the assumption that the world needs your vital input and voluntary enforcement on this issue, just don’t. Nobody elected you, nobody appointed you, you have no legal or moral authority in these matters, so please just stop.

IF YOU … never knew any of this before, well, now you know.

Say it, out loud, three times:  Right lane traffic is for cruising, left lane traffic is for passing.

When all drivers obey these simple rules, highway traffic flows much better.

And don’t bring that “but then you’re speeding, and that is dangerous” argument ’round here.  Going 75 or 80 on highways designed for that speed is not dangerous.  Especially when that is the de facto speed limit.

Also, highway driving is unique, for two main reasons.

It is by far the safest type of driving. The odds of getting into an accident are so low, per mile driven, that to deliberately choose to drive 70 instead of 80, or to pass at 71 instead of 75, because of safety concerns, is like spitting into the ocean. There just isn’t much that can go wrong on a highway (other than a blowout – and if you don’t know what to do when that happens, you better not drive on highways at all, because panic and overreaction can get you just as dead at 45 mph as 75).

It is also the simplest type of driving. You go straight, you stick to one speed, and that’s it. Nobody pulls in front of you from a mall parking lot, nobody jams on their brakes to turn left. No stoplights, no islands, no new lanes appearing and then disappearing. No railroad crossings, no school zones, no crosswalks. No kids on bikes, no runners, no skateboarders. It’s just you, the road, and the other traffic, all headed the same direction, for miles and miles.

So within these constraints, speed is not much of an issue, within reason, and assuming that the driver is paying attention and is alert, and the weather is good, and the car itself is in good working condition (brakes, tires, and steering).

Of course, if you’re driving in the South, speed is always an issue. Everybody goes faster and faster, until they all have to jam on their brakes at the same time and narrowly avoid a 75 car pileup. Instant death is always just a moment away.

I drove the length of Georgia both directions in 2004, with my whole family in a loaded van, and had to panic stop 3 or 4 times. From 80 mph.

Good times!

But that is another issue. My point is that drivers who ignore lane usage protocols, whether out of ignorance or vanity, cause other drivers to react to them unnecessarily, which is always rude and can be dangerous. Blending in with the flow of traffic is the single most important thing you can do on the highway.

Thanks for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely, Your Friend, But Seriously, Stop Driving Like a The World Owes You Something,

Jeff

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