You’re cruising along on the freeway at a swift and lawful pace (ten miles over the speed limit) when you notice a slower-moving car ahead in the distance. There are no other vehicles on the road so you flash your headlights at the driver of the car ahead to signal that you are rapidly moving towards the vehicle so that the driver can courteously change lanes to allow you to pass. The driver graciously moves to the right lane to allow you to pass, making the road safer and keeping your disposition jolly. In this perfect scenario, neither driver had to reduce their speed nor was either driver unnecessarily inconvenienced. Unfortunately, this is a fairytale scenario as most drivers are lacking the “lane courtesy” mentality, making the road more dangerous and full of irate, aggressive drivers and “road ragers”.
Thankfully, I work mostly from home so I do not have the pleasure of driving in rush-hour traffic too often other than every Friday when I contract security services to the legendary Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse in Cave Creek, Arizona. My disposition is generally cheery when I leave the house every Friday afternoon but I become increasingly irritated during my Friday rush-hour drive due to inconsiderate and ignorant drivers on the road. I am not certain if it is the outright defiance of other drivers to not move over to allow me to pass when they are driving slower than me but I would assume so since I often get the bird in exchange for passing them on the right. It would certainly help my case if ADOT would install SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT signs or if the DMV would educate drivers on lane courtesy in an effort to make roads safer and more efficient, but I also realize that swallowing pride is difficult for many. To expand further on how egotistical drivers contribute to the problem, the National Motorists Association offers the following benefits of lane courtesy on their website:
4 KEY BENEFITS OF LANE COURTESY
When drivers choose to block the left lane, whether intentionally or not, they are making the roads less safe and efficient for everyone. Here are some of the benefits you and the other drivers on the road will notice if you keep the left lane open for passing:
- YOU’RE LESS LIKELY TO BE IN AN ACCIDENT – By not obstructing other drivers, traffic is able to flow more smoothly. When traffic flows smoothly, there is less tailgating, less weaving in-and-out of traffic, and therefore fewer accidents.
- YOU’LL GET BETTER GAS MILEAGE – Lane courtesy promotes the smooth flow of traffic and helps drivers maintain an even pace. Vehicles use the most gas when accelerating. Less braking followed by acceleration will improve fuel economy.
- YOU’LL GET TO YOUR DESTINATION FASTER – Yielding to faster traffic reduces congestion. When traffic is flowing smoothly, highway capacity can be utilized to the fullest extent.
- YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH ROAD RAGE – There’s little doubt that “left lane hogs” are a source of irritation for many drivers. The courteous act of moving to the right can eliminate driver stress and conflict.
While doing research for this article, I came across a superb website appropriately titled “Slower Traffic Keep Right”. In addition to educating vehicle operators on how to allow faster drivers to pass, it also points out that lane courtesy is a two-way street. This means that a faster driver might have to heed the way to a slower driver if they are attempting to pass an ever slower driver. My absolute favorite tidbit of information offered up on the “Slower Traffic Keep Right” website is to “realize that it is not your job to keep people from speeding”. The awesome excerpt is as follows:
Try not to let emotions control your driving behavior. Consider that the speeder is making the roads safer for the rest of us. What is the bigger risk while driving on the highway – wrecking or getting a speeding ticket? There are more speeding tickets than wrecks so our biggest worry should be avoiding a speeding ticket. By letting the speeder get ahead of you then that person will get the ticket and you won’t.
Although this rule of thumb does not always hold true with regards to who receives the speeding ticket, the suggestion is sound. It is not our jobs to prevent others from speeding but it is our obligation to get out of their way so that they can pass.
So, what did we learn today about lane courtesy and safe driving? By preventing drivers from moving at their desired pace, not yours, you are actually doing yourself a disservice as well as making the road more dangerous for those in your community. We all pay for the roads and we all have the right to speed on them if we choose. It is the responsibility of law enforcement, not empowered drivers, to monitor and reprimand speeders. Personal safety comes in many forms, including safe driving. Use lane courtesy while operating your vehicles. Please keep the roads safer and do not endanger the lives of others by simply moving over to allow others to pass on every road in which you drive!
Slower traffic, please keep right…and please put down the cell phones. Be safe!