Let me preface this by warning you that this article and The Peeves that subsequently follow it might make you realize you or someone you love has been driving like an idiot their entire adult lives. Also that it might make me sound like a real asshole. But the people need to know.
First let me give you a little history about myself. I come from a long line of professional drivers. No, not the guys who just make a bunch of really fast left turns, the guys who spend hours of their week away from home driving through all kinds of conditions so that you can get your shit; truck drivers. Both of my grandfathers drove semis, as well as a plethora of my extended family from aunts to uncles to cousins etc. They’ve passed on a lot of wisdom, which is handy considering – though I didn’t follow in their footsteps – I spend a lot of time on the road driving to various places to visit my family.
On these various road trips I’ve run into a lot of stupid, and that’s going to be the point of these articles. To bring light to things that you might be doing wrong, tell you why they’re wrong and then tell you how to fix it. Also so that I can yell at something other than tail lights and my steering wheel, neither of which can hear me nor fix the problem.
So let’s start with the worst of them, my biggest driving pet peeve, and one that a lot of people probably genuinely don’t realize but totally should. When on the highway, unless you have flashing lights attached to your vehicle or happen to be passing someone, STAY OUT OF THE LEFT LANE! Seriously, nothing could be more annoying, and people do it all the time. I have even found myself riding shotgun in friends’ cars, biting my tongue in attempt to not brutally ambush them with words. I knew not to bring it up after the time I decided to share my feelings with my then-girlfriend (which didn’t go so well).
It isn’t that difficult to realize. The left lane is for going fast, the right lane is for everybody else. That’s why it has nicknames like the fast lane, the passing lane and the emergency lane. Its actual purpose is for emergency vehicles like police officers or ambulances to get to places they may need to go in a timely fashion, but when those vehicles aren’t present it becomes the fast lane, a place where vehicles that don’t really care about breaking a law or two to get where they’re going can do it fast, or sometimes even for those people who don’t break the rules to simply get around the 20 mph grandma that probably shouldn’t be on the highway.
That means you should never just be chilling in the left lane. Stay in the right lane, or some of the center lanes if there are more than two. The far left lane is not the place for you to hang out because you know your exit is on the left in 45 miles, it is no place for you to yell at your children for asking if you’re there yet, and is certainly no place for you to belt your show tunes without regard for the outside world. If you need to use it, use it. But then get back in the right lane as soon as possible, or people like me will ride your ass until you get as pissed off as we are that you’re there.
And while this may simply be an unwritten rule of the road, before you say that I’m just a road-raged jerk and you don’t have to listen to me, allow me to tell you about a little known fact that might have you change your tune. Your vehicle, whatever it is you drive, was not built to be in the left lane. Fact. Highway roads are designed to prevent the buildup of rainwater by slightly sloping the road. The right lanes slope gently to the right so that rain can slide right down into a ditch or simply off of the road, and the left lanes slope to the left. Vehicle manufacturers take this into consideration when building your automobile, so the left side of your vehicle is just slightly higher than the right.
You’d never notice or be able to tell when looking at a vehicle or road, but it is a real thing. Your car doesn’t even want to be in the left lane, so you shouldn’t want to either. There are plenty of other reasons that the left lane should be used the way it was intended, as evidenced by these outstanding individuals, including making traffic flow more smoothly and get backed up much less, and it will likely help reduce traffic injuries and casualties.
So I am pleading with you to stop hanging out in the left lane. For my sanity, the sanity of others, and even for your safety… get the fuck out! Get in, get out, and everybody will be happy.