Don’t be a Lane-Hog

A few rules to make our highways safer, more efficient, and more fun to drive along.

[This is a re-post of an old blog post I wrote in 2013, before Jeremy Clarkson fell out of favor, and before my commute became much better simply by moving closer to work. The rules still apply. Don’t take this stuff too seriously.]

I write this blog post in my mind every afternoon as I drive I-280 and CA-85 on my way home, it’s time to get it out of my head and onto paper (or, errr, whatever)…

Like many others in the Bay Area, my commute isn’t fun. However, what makes it even more frustrating is how people drive on highways in the US (yay, generalization!) — here are a few observations and rules to those of you out there on the highways.

For those of you who haven’t observed a more civilized driving culture, you need to understand that an old 2 lane Autobahn can handle more traffic — and at much higher speeds — than a fancy 4 lane California freeway because people over there know how to drive. Let me explain.

The first offender is the I’m-Doing-45-Because-I’m-Scared-Of-Other-Cars driver. Now, driving slowly is perfectly fine, and it happens all the time, all over the world (even in India), but if you choose to, you need to follow this simple rule:

Rule 1: If going slower than other traffic, stay on the right.

In fact, there are even signs on US highways that state this clearly, but nobody seems to notice (or, for reasons I will elaborate later in this post, seems to think it applies to them). So we have a highway full of cars spread evenly across all lanes, going however fast they feel like (my wife has a great analogy for this: it’s like somebody threw marbles on the highway, just to increase the challenge of getting to B) and that leads to what? Obsessive lane switching.

Switching lanes, just like driving slowly, is perfectly acceptable if you need to. Good reasons to switch lanes include, for example:

  • To pass the car in front of you.
  • To pass the car in front of you.
  • To pass the car in front of you.

Bad reasons for switching lanes include (again, just random examples):

  • Because you feel like it.
  • Because there’s space next to your car.
  • “I don’t need to explain my actions, this is the land of the free, so go f**k yourself!”

This leads to our next rule for highway driving:

Rule 2: Pass on the left, cruise on the right.

The worst offenders of rule 2 are minivans with passengers who think that they are required to get into the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes, also known as car-pool lanes, during rush hour just because they have 2 or more people in the car. This has become so bad, that we need a special rule to cover this case:

Rule 3: Just because you have a kid in the back, does not mean you have to get into the car-pool lane and then chug along the other lanes at the same speed.

Or, as Jeremy Clarkson so eloquently put it: get out of the way!

Finally, there are plenty of people who simply shouldn’t be driving on highways but seem to do it anyway, god knows why, but that leads to our final rule:

Rule 4: If you’re not willing to follow rules 1, 2, and 3 while driving on highways, don’t.

There you have it. Don’t be a Lane-Hog.

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