A recent incident got me thinking about how ones emotions and perceptions affect ones Judgment on the road. Now I will readily admit to being a bit of a lead foot, and this often puts me in a unique position in terms of how I view traffic, as I tend to always be one of the faster vehicles of the road.
However even from your Sunday driver perspective, the reactions of some other drivers make no sense to me. Here’s one (out of numerous examples) of what I’m talking about.
So I’m moving along in the passing lane, going by a string of cars moving slower than I, when I encounter an SUV, just cruising in the passing lane. Now, as I stated before, I’m admittedly a leadfoot, but I’m not entirely inconsiderate. This vehicle is not moving particularly fast, but there are cars in the lane to this drivers right, and so I just hang back and wait for the driver of this humongUV to have an opportunity to move over to the cruising lane. About five minutes later, this SUV clears the cars to the right, and comes up on a stretch of road with no other cars for about half a mile ahead.
Now In my mind, I’m thinking “OK, now this driver should move over to the right, and let me pass.” Not necessarily because I think the driver should be able to read my mind, but rather because the shoulder of this particular highway is sprinkled generously with “Stay right except to pass” signs. Now common sense would dictate that a driver, confronted by a quarter mile of empty road between them and the next closest vehicle ahead, and repeated confirmatory signage, would move to the right, right? You would think so wouldn’t you. Except I wait for about a minute, then two, (maybe even three) and…
Nothing. No blinker, no attempt to change lanes, not even a glance to the side. After a mile or so of cruising like this, I’m beginning to think this driver is zoned out or something. Nonetheless, we are coming up on another group of cars, and not wanting to spend the rest of my life stuck behind Miss Daisy’s driver, I decide to pass this vehicle on the right. Now here’s where the fun begins.
As soon as I signal, get into the right lane and start to accelerate to get around this massive canyonero, it SPEEDS UP!! And no, I’m not talking just a little faster. I’m talking pedal to the metal, “Pass me over my dead body…” speed. Now for a second I’m a little perplexed. Then, seeing that we are rapidly approaching a body of vehicles, my lead foot instinct kicks in, and having a much faster vehicle, I simply gun it and go around the rapidly accelerating hulk of steel.
Now perhaps I cut back over into the passing lane a little closer than this driver would have liked, (I don’t think I did, however I’ve learned that perceived safe passing distances to be a subjective thing), or I somehow inadvertently upset this drivers paradigm of the universe, or maybe being passed just didn’t sit well with this driver, but their reaction thereafter was… I’ll describe it as… very intruguing.
Because as luck, (or my lack thereof) would have it, we were stuck in a clump of cars with a similar Sunday driver in the lead, and Mr/Mrs. Canyonero took to tailgating me to within six inches of my rear bumper for the next few miles. Because clearly, I had passed unsafely/cut them off, and this driver felt that I needed to be taught how to drive safely. Eventually I wearied of this game, and threaded my way through every little nook and cranny I could find in traffic, knowing it could not follow, until I was clear of the irate steel monster…
Now here’s the question. What is it with the “lane hog” mentality? I fail to understand this. If you want to drive at 10mph below the speed limit, by all means, do so, but why sit in the passing lane while doing so, and impede all other traffic who actually would like to drive at the limit? If you all go look at your drivers manuals, you will realize that the far left lane is a PASSING LANE, NOT a DRIVING LANE.
Why then, do people guard the left lane as if their very lives depended upon it? Is it so difficult to stay in the right lane until you need to pass? And even if you are passing other vehicles at a good clip, if the next vehicle is a good quarter mile ahead of you, must you sit in the left lane until you get there? Does it take that much effort to change lanes?
And perhaps the most perplexing behavior are those who cruise at some constant (but relatively low) speed in the left lane, but suddenly accelerate to prevent you from passing if you try to pass them on the right! In the name of all things good in the world, what is your malfunction? If you want to cruise at Xmph, then cruise at Xmph, I certainly won’t hold that against you. And while annoying, I can see (sometimes) where it does make sense to stay in the left lane.
But if you cruise in the left lane, with no other cars to your right, and a string of cars behind you, and you fail to understand why you need to move over to the right, you NEED remedial driving lessons. Or a wet trout to the face. Whichever would be more effective. And if, in the stated scenario you decide you need to actively and aggressively prevent another vehicle from passing you on the right, then you need both remedial driving lessons and COUNSELING.
Why? Because honestly, If you do all of the above, you have got to have some rather serious issues.
Now I’ll also mention that, on most roads, moving out of the way of vehicles that are moving faster than you is not only a common sense act of courtesy, in many places, it is the law. Not that I place much stock in the validity of all of the laws of the road nowadays, but people constantly cite the speed limit as the reason why they should not have to move over. I hear things like “I was driving at the speed limit, so anyone who wants to pass me will be speeding, so nobody should need to have to pass…”
Seriously, if you are worried about people obeying the law, then you need to obey the law yourself and move over, you little hypocrite…
And perhaps the most irrational actions come from those who go into full “Road Rage” when people who try to circumvent thier inconsiderate (and illegal) road hogging behavior, in the only way they have available to them. Passing on the right.
Now I understand that for some folks, ones car is considered an extension of their home. And as a result, people tend to treat road incidents like they have been accosted in their own living rooms. Well, let me point out a few things to remember.
First, If you truly, honestly feel like your car is an extension of your home, then you should fully expect that everyone else feels the same. And hanging out in the left lane is the equivalent of making everybody else wait in line for the bathroom. Treat the left lane like the bathroom.
Do your business and get the heck outta there as fast as you can. If you don’t you should not be surprised or angry when people start banging on the door. If you are, then you are fully admitting that you are being a selfish, inconsiderate jackass.
Here’s the reality check: Even if you consider your car an extension of your home, you also just so happen to cruising your mobile La-Z-Boy on public roads that you have to share with everyone else. Stop acting like the road is there for your use alone. I have a tendency to speed, I will admit that, but I also stay out of everyones way, avoid tailgating as much as possible, and generally try to be mindful of the needs of other drivers. And If I see someone moving faster than I, I get the heck out of their way, regardless of how fast they are going. In fact it is in your best interest to do so. Any other mentality is simply foolish.
Honestly. If you are one of those people who consciously just cruise in the left lane all the time regardless of what’s going on, you are an inconsiderate jerk. And if you are of this ilk, and also actively and aggressively attempt to deter any attempts to pass you, then you are a jerk who needs some serious counseling…