Refusing to ‘reward bad behavior’ isn’t an excuse for hogging the left lane

Frances Coleman
al.com

A recent Alabama headline said, “State, local law enforcement cracking down on driving in the left lane.” The story underneath it said state troopers and local police are increasing the number of tickets they issue for failure to move out of the so-called “passing lane.”

If you were a good driver, the story implied, you’d drive in the right lane. Besides, it’s the law.

Problem is, Alabamians aren’t fond of suggestions that they aren’t good drivers, so it make take a whole lot of $200 tickets to convince them otherwise. Meanwhile, excuses abound, including:

— I forgot.

This is the one I’m usually guilty of. I move into the left lane to get around someone, and it’s nice and open and traffic is flowing smoothly and I just don’t think to move back into the right lane — at least not until I notice a line of cars in my rearview mirror or someone comes roaring up behind me, furiously blinking his or her headlights. Then I remember.

But do I move over? Yes, if I’m being calm, considerate, reasonable and mindful of the law.

— I’m mad.

If I’m not having a calm, considerate and reasonable day, however, and some jerk is two inches from my bumper, flashing his lights and mouthing ugly things about women drivers of a certain age, guess what: I might not move to the right lane.

You’ve probably reacted that way, too. Yes, we understand that it’s the law, that the left lane is supposed to be the passing lane and that we could get a costly ticket for hanging out in it.

But doggone it, why reward bad behavior? Why let the bullyboy behind you get away with his intimidating and overly aggressive driving tactics? Why not teach him a lesson by refusing to budge?

Answer: Because if you keep being stubborn and he keeps inching closer and closer, and you’re both going 70 mph, you could pay for your stubbornness by ending up in a bad wreck — an outcome you could have avoided by merely rolling your eyes, shaking your head and moving to the right lane.

— I’m doing the speed limit.

This is not one of mine and it may not be one of yours, but it is plenty of folks’ go-to excuse for hanging out in the left lane. They’re on the interstate and they’re going 70 mph, so why should they have to change lanes? To accommodate the drivers who want to blast along the interstate at 80 or 85 mph or more? Isn’t this the ultimate in rewarding bad behavior?

Maybe. But if you’re clogging up the left lane and causing speeders to weave back and forth in an effort to get around you, then you’re a hazard to yourself and to them and to all the rest of us who are nearby.

Don’t be a knucklehead. If you want to obey the speed limit or maybe only go a few mph over it, then do it in the right lane except when you need to get around somebody.

— Experts? What experts?

Really, guys? “We don’t need no stinking experts”? Next you’ll be crying that traffic statistics are “fake news.”

They’re not, of course. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which knows a thing or two about driving, has plenty of data on its website to show that slow drivers and rapid lane-changing are major causes of accidents. So do other websites and studies devoted to safe driving. The fact is, if slower drivers would move over, we’d have fewer wrecks.

So wise up, use the left lane for passing and then move over. It won’t hurt — and occasionally, a few miles up the road, you may even have the supreme pleasure of seeing ol’ bullyboy getting the speeding ticket or reckless driving citation he so richly deserves.

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