The Keep Right Attitude

SoapboxThe left lane is so popular lately that when I use the right lane I often find myself behind far fewer vehicles at the next red traffic light. In fact, at one particular intersection on my commute many times I can be first in line. Everyone else seems stuck in the left lane trying to get ahead, fuming, following too closely, making sudden lane changes and often all for the desire to exceed the speed limit and to be faster than everyone else.

Why don't the police do anything about slower drivers who fail to give way? Most often these drivers are at or above the speed limit or preparing for a left turn, 2 out of 3 of these activities are allowed by law. Couple that with the traffic court justice who told me outright that I had better not try to prosecute a fail to keep right ticket when the driver doing this was travelling at the speed limit. There was zero chance of a conviction and I would be wasting the court's time. Oh, and if those slower drivers were below the speed limit and not turning left, I did do something about it.

Which is the most dangerous, driving in the left lane at the speed limit and not moving over or driving in the left lane and trying to exceed the speed limit when the driver in the left lane isn't? My observation is that more dangerous actions are performed by the latter than the former. While speeding in itself may not be dangerous, trying to force your way above the limit in traffic is.

To me, it all comes down to attitude. The oblivious driver needs to be more attentive. The driver failing to keep right needs to share. The driver trying to push their way to the front needs to relax, considering both themselves and others. If the attitude shown in the comments of my BC Bad Driver of the Week video on this topic is any consideration, improvement is not likely to happen soon!

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Comments

Submitted by E-mail

Agreed, attitude is huge and it seems to me listening to a lot of people that they are aggressive and know it and don't care!

I have been quite amazed recently when driving through a 50km/h construction zone twice daily how people race through it and get quite irritated because you slow down and go at the posted speed. They quickly obey when the police are present but as soon as they are around the corner go back to weaving and speeding. I would love to see a speed check, shortly followed by another and then another. :)

Most Dangerous? A good way of looking at the issue!

Which is the most dangerous, driving in the left lane at the speed limit and not moving over or driving in the left lane and trying to exceed the speed limit when the driver in the left lane isn't? My observation is that more dangerous actions are performed by the latter than the former. While speeding in itself may not be dangerous, trying to force your way above the limit in traffic is.

To me, it all comes down to attitude. The oblivious driver needs to be more attentive. The driver failing to keep right needs to share. The driver trying to push their way to the front needs to relax, considering both themselves and others. If the attitude shown in the comments of my BC Bad Driver of the Week video on this topic is any consideration, improvement is not likely to happen soon!

It's a truism that an accident can only take place if two or more objects try to occupy the same space, at the same time.

So any time that traffic gets bunched up and you see packs of traffic moving along in close proximity to each other, you're looking at an accident trying to find a place to happen.

There isn't any single cause; this compression of traffic can be caused by one or more factors.  For instance:

  • Traffic Light controlled intersections on highways that could have been engineered properly using overpasses or underpasses, along with entrance and exit ramps.
  • Left lane bandits who don't move over to the right even though they have no reason to be, or remain, in the left lane (this has nothing to do with whether they're driving the speed limit, because traffic doesn't do the speed limit anyway and we all know that).
  • Aggressive self-righteous drivers who feel entitled to lean on the vehicle ahead to pressure them to change lanes and get out of their way.
  • Over-zealous enforcement of speed limits by traffic police (or even general duty cops grabbing a radar gun to keep themselves amused during a quiet shift).

It's a multi-faceted problem, and will require genuine commitment on the part of traffic engineers, police forces, and individual drivers to fix.  But if we can make it socially unacceptable to drive without a seat belt, or when impaired, or yapping on the phone - and we have, pretty much - then we can make it socially unacceptable to create or add to driving situations that increase the risk for everybody.

Submitted by E-mail

I share your concern and observations about how the left lane is used.

Recently I noticed something interesting and dangerous.

I drive to and from a project I am working on every day on Bowen Road in Nanaimo. As you know it is a four lane, main artery with a median. I drive in the right lane until about a block before I have to make a left turn at the end of each trip. Moving over into the left lane is always dangerous.

About a year ago I noticed that drivers would sometimes slow and leave me plenty of room to make my lane change safely. I would move over and sometime give a short wave to show my appreciation. The next thing I new, the driver who had kindly "let me in" had slammed on his/her brakes to avoid rear ending me. (This would then sometimes be followed by the one finger salute or the start of some other form of threatening road rage.)

You have probably guessed by now what was happening.  An intersection was ahead. The light was red or a "stale green". Seeing this, the driver had slowed, dropped back and left a large space, not as a courtesy to me but to allow him/her to look down and use their cell phone. When they looked up they were about to rear end me.

This happens often when we start to look for it.

I am about to leave for my morning drive on Bowen Road. Wish me luck.

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