01 June 2009

Slow pokes on the left

In a continuation of my bad drivers series, this post deals with those drivers who feel it is necessary (especially in moderate traffic) to drive slow in the passing lane.

Sometimes these drivers are driving above the speed limit, but still too slow for traffic. Other times they are highly obedient to the speed limit when it's clear that the speed limit is too slow for traffic. Worse yet is when they drive below the speed limit in the passing lane; I was behind a woman a few weeks ago who was driving no faster than 40 mph in the passing lane of a 55 mph speed limit highway. When I was finally able to pass her, she was chatting on her cell phone and completely oblivious to everything around her.

The hallmark of the slow poke in the passing lane is the long line of cars that build up behind them (in turn, this can also lead to passing on the right). If traffic isn't too bad, passing on the right can avoid these slow pokes without too much of a problem (and without the "passing on the right" problems associated with this article). However, when traffic gets heavier there is usually no room to pass. Worst of all, evidence today, is when someone is driving slowly in the passing lane but just fast enough to match the speed of someone in the right lane. I drove behind two cars that were basically driving in formation for over three miles. Predictably, a bunch of cars were lining up behind them in both lanes, just trying to guess which car would actually move.

The passing lane is for passing. In fact, many states make it a law to get out of the passing lane when you're not passing, or to yield to traffic trying to overtake you. So most of these slow pokes are not just annoying, they're breaking the law.

Yes, I know, and I agree, that realistically when traffic is heavy (as it commonly is here in central Maryland), the whole passing deal goes out the window and it's just another lane. But it's also know as the hammer lane for a reason. If you're not willing to drive at least 10 mph over the speed limit, get out of my lane! ;-)
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