I did a fair amount of traveling this summer. Right around 3,000 miles of destination driving. That doesn’t include the day-to-day mileage. I am the primary driver in our house. Partly out of necessity because I get car sick if I look anywhere but the road. Partly because I actually enjoy driving. I also like to get where I am going efficiently (read: quickly).
So after all of my time on the road this summer, I have made some observations and developed strong opinions. Today, I will focus on how people use the fast lane.
What is this “Fast Lane” people keep talking about?
First and unfortunately, I think I need to define the fast lane. It is the left most lane on an interstate or highway. This does not include special function lanes such as the HOV or Peach Pass lanes. The general rule of the road is that slower traffic keeps to the right. This is even designated on official road signs. You may have seen them. They look like this:
Please notice that it is a comparative qualifier. It says “slowER” traffic. This does not necessarily mean you are going slowly. It just means you are going comparatively slower than the other cars on the road. So if you notice that any cars start out behind you and then are in front of you, then you are the slower traffic. Get over to the right.
So let’s recap:
SlowER traffic right —>
FastER traffic left <—
The fast lane can be a glorious tool for traffic maneuvering. Or it can be a source of some borderline road rage when it is used incorrectly. In order to maintain the former and avoid the latter, please obey these simple rules.
Rule #1 If you are using cruise control, get out of the fast lane.
This is an absolute and has no exceptions. If you break this rule, you are a lazy driver, and, in my opinion, a horrible person.
To take off cruise control, all you have to do is push a button. Just take that little finger and press gently until the little light goes off. See, not so difficult. Then, proceed to engage your feet to actually take control of the car and pay attention to your surroundings.
I really feel like this one should be a law, and not just a rule. If I ever get into the law making business (not going to happen), this will be first on my docket. It might even be my primary running platform.
Rule #2 Stay to the right except to pass.
Again, there are signs that periodically remind you of this along the highways. In case you are a visual learner, this is what they look like:
I know this looks very similar to the previous sign and could be very confusing. But if you look closely, there is a common theme there.
You should not be hanging out in the left hand lane for hundreds of miles. You should not go to the left lane to feel safe and avoid all of the other big, scary cars moving around. If you hang out in the left lane because it’s too much work to move your steering wheel the 3 degrees needed to maneuver your car, then you are a lazy driver, and, in my opinion, a horrible person. Don’t forget to put on your blinker on your way east.
Rule #3 The Left Lane should be reserved for passing only (except for in heavy traffic, of course)
Yes, it does seem like Rule #2 and Rule #3 are redundant. But different wording resonates with different people. So I’m trying to catch those I didn’t quite reach in Rule #2. If you still don’t get it after both of my attempts to explain, then you are, in my opinion, a horrible person.
Be honest. Have you ever thought the words “Well, I don’t know why that car is riding my ass. I mean, I am going over the speed limit. He doesn’t need to go any faster than that!”? If you answered yes, then you actually have no business in the fast lane. And you might be a horrible person.
Rule #4 Use the left lane only to actively pass another car.
Conversely, if you are not actively passing another car, then you do NOT need to be in the left lane.
Even if you are the fastest car on the road, you should not hang out in the left lane forever. Pass the slowER cars then get back to the right. You should never be going the same speed as the person next to you. If you are, congratulations!! You found a travel buddy! Get behind them. Or in front of them. But never beside them.
Also, passing a car should not take more than a half a mile. If it does, you are spending too much time in their blind spot and letting them spend too much time in yours. This is dangerous. Seriously. If for no other reason, this fact should convince you to start actively passing. Blind spots are where accidents happen. Stay out of blind spots. Driving on the highway is not the time to practice your ninja skills and try to go unnoticed.
You should be able to actively pass a car in about a quarter of a mile. Half a mile is being generous but still relatively acceptable. Actively passing another car is an action. You have a goal and a purpose.
If passing someone in this manner frightens you, then you have no business in the fast lane. If you think it would require you to go faster than you are comfortable to pass someone in this manner, then you have no business in the fast lane. Your options are to slow down a little and just stay behind the car or to actively pass them. If you really want to get around that other car, put on your big girl panties and pass them with alert intention and then resume your normal, comfortable speed when you return to the right lane.
If you pass passively (pass while using cruise control or taking longer than half a mile to complete a pass), then you are, in my opinion, a horrible person.
So actually the fast lane really should be called “The Passing Lane.” I think that would remind everyone the intended purpose of the lane, and therefore help you not be a horrible person.
Rule #5 Just get out of my way
I mean, if I’m making rules for the road, I might as well add a selfish one in there. If you see me coming, just move out of my way. It’s a public service really, much like moving over for ambulances and stopping for buses. Don’t question my logic. Just do it.
***Disclaimer: Please drive responsibly. This post is intended for entertainment purposes. And, actually, there are very few individuals who I truly think are horrible people. ***