Saturday, December 13, 2008

States cracking down on slow left-lane drivers

It's about time.
In these days of longer commutes and simmering tempers, nothing seems to set off already-testy motorists like the left-lane camper -- the guy or gal who drives in the passing lane and bars faster drivers from easily passing. Web sites have cropped up to educate other drivers, or to vent. There's a (somewhat painful) YouTube song called "Keep Right."

Even bigwigs get frustrated. Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, weary of having his limo slowed down by such left-lane pokies, ordered an aide to have the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission install signs a few years ago reading "Keep Right, Pass Left. It's the Law."

And now some states are cracking down on left-lane campers, both to keep traffic moving and to tamp down the road rage that goes from zero-to-60 faster than ever before.

That's not just a pretext. Last year, a driver was arrested on Interstate 79 outside Pittsburgh after allegedly brandishing a semiautomatic pistol at a driver who was on his tail.

Some states didn't allow left-lane lingering but didn't enforce the law. Now they are.

At the start of the summer, the Washington State Patrol began pulling people over for violating the state's left-lane law, which prohibits "impeding the flow of other traffic."

When it comes to rude and dangerous driving habits, motorists who drive slowly in the left lane rank right up there with motorists who wait until the last possible second to merge. I'm glad that some state law enforcement agencies are beginning to crack down on this behavior (although, as the article notes, laws vary from state to state); hopefully, we'll start to see the DPS here in Texas join them.

It's really a rather simple concept: slower traffic should stay to the right. It doesn't matter if you're traveling at the speed limit, or even over it. If you're in the left lane and the guy behind you wants to pass you, move over and let him pass. Aside from the fact that it allows traffic to flow better, it's just common courtesy.

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