If You Want to Drive on My Road

One thousand miles on the highway (to Eugene and back last week) gives one lots of time to ponder the following: “Why the (your favorite expletive beginning with “f” here) don’t these slow drivers in the left lane get the (favorite expletive again) over?”

Admittedly, such reflections are a necessary product of driving — even preferring to drive — well above the speed limits posted on our Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways and other fine public routes. I plead guilty. But.

No matter how fast you’re going — the posted speed limit or 15 miles an hour over it — if you look in the rear view mirror and see someone bearing down on you from behind, that tells you they’re going faster than you are and you need to get or stay out of the way. The fact you’re driving whatever speed doesn’t entitle you to the left lane. The sane, courteous and cautious course is to get over to the right at your first opportunity. Let the faster traffic by; presumably that’s what all those “Slower Traffic Keep Right” signs are about.

And also: When you’re going 66 and you decide to daringly overtake that car in front of you that’s going 65, watch what’s happening in the left lane before you pull out to do it. If faster traffic is coming up, either stand on it to make the pass and get it over with so you don’t hold up your sweet-tempered brethren, or wait until the lane clears and you can take your own sweet time (and 12 miles or so) to get past your barely slower neighbor.

Thank you.

Next: The many uses of directional signals.

3 Replies to “If You Want to Drive on My Road”

  1. Living in a country with the area of California and a bit over twice the population has been an educating experience in rules-of-the-road. Perhaps it is too kind to blame it on just too many people but I think it must have something to do with the fact that many people are willing to just ignore stoplights , drive on sidewalks or down one-way streets the wrong way. I have not seen one person pulled over for bad driving here and have never seen a car getting a ticket for inappropriate parking. Don’t even get me started on the way people walk here. One example: I have experienced walking next to a building on the street with someone heading towards me yet a little further from the wall. Despite the fact I am the one on the “correct” (because I don’t think it’s been mandated by anythign more than tradition) side of the sidewalk the other person will beginning inching as close to the wall as possible so that I have to step around them or knock into them. This infuriates me on a weekly if not daily basis. Finally there’s just the overabundance of bikes on the sidewalk here. I have been driven to the point of panic at points hearing random bells coming from who knows where ringing behind me causing me to dodge INTO the path of the bike only to be exclaimed at for MY mistake.

  2. Eamon: I’m wondering if the “correct” side for walking is the same as the side for driving? I’ve encountered similar sidewalk showdowns here. I tend to freeze, sometimes say “excuse me” with an irritated tone.
    Re discourteous drivers: I find it frustrating to be stuck behind someone driving at or below the speed limit on a winding two-lane highway (such as 101 between Mill Valley and Stinson Beach) a driver who also glides past all the turn-out spots, ignoring flashing lights or toots of the horn.
    I kind of like George Carlin’s suggestion that drivers have pistols that shoot messages that stick via suction cup to cars, flagging the operator a “Stupid Driver.” Really bad drivers would have the most flags.

  3. In general the answer is “yes people are supposed to walk on the left side of the road.” The situation is complicated however by the fact that in the Kansai area of Japan (Osaka and Kyoto) it is reversed and often there are signs in train stations saying “Walk on the right here.” Conclusion: there is plenty of opportunity for schizophrenic walking.

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