The Daily Ping

The 1st Ping was published on January 6, 2000.

June 20th, 2000

The left lane is for passing only.

It’s a simple rule of the road, I swear. But every single day I drive, at least one yahoo is doing under 50 in the left lane. Signs do nothing: no one reads "Slower Traffic Keep Right" and thinks, "Gee, maybe I should move over." Nope. Can you provide any reasonable explanation as to why people drive slowly in the left lane? I can’t. -pm

Posted in Cars

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 3:18:13AM
When driving through North Carolina back in 1994 I noticed that the rules were pretty much reversed -- slower traffic kept to the left and the right lane was used for passing.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 9:17:44AM
From what I hear, in parts of California you'll get ticketed if you pass on the right. I guess that's one way to make sure that the slower traffic keeps right. :)

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 10:15:34AM
Aaron, that's often the case here in Chicago as well. It's absurd. I don't think people would continue to do this if, you know, tickets were actually given for passing on the right.

FROM: Old Fezziwig
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 12:35:58AM
I've seen people get pulled over and ticketed for passing on the right, but if idiots don't get out of the way on the left, what are you gonna do? The people driving slow in the left lane should be the ones who get pulled over.
I think alot of people get into a groove and remain in the left lane without even thinking about moving back over. I admit I've done it a few times but thankfully, no one was behind me. And I always drive fast so even if I stay in the left, it's usually not a problem. Getting into a 'zone' or unconscious groove is understandable and I can accept that.
It's the idiots who refuse to move that piss me off. Even after you flash your bright lights at them, tailgate, and give some hand gestures, they are either totally clueless or totally stubborn and won't budge.
I have road rage just sitting here at my PC!
-Old Fezz

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 12:39:13AM
I'm not sure that ticketing people for passing on the right is a good solution. The passer isn't the problem as much as the person being passed -- the person going 45 MPH in the right lane on the freeway.

That time I was in NC that I mentioned, you could have tailgated, honked and flashed your lights all you wanted, the person in the left lane would not move over. You either had to go 45 MPH too, or pass on the right.

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 12:41:51AM the right lane on the freeway.

Yeah, that should be left lane. Darn no edit-your-post form ;p

FROM: Robert
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 5:58:20PM
In Germany people know how to do it, but if they slip a simple light flash will do the trick. Are Americans just jerks on average? Judging by the jackass I saw yesterday spin out in a turn in his BWM because he didn't bother to factor in the rain, I would say "probably".

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 10:32:33PM
Yeah, people definitely do not know what flashing brights means. They figure that you're throwing up gang signs, or just being an idiot.

Out of all of my friends, only two knew that the left lane was for passing only.

As you've said, Aaron, going 45 on an expressway is also a problem. It's honestly hazardous. Yeehaw.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 11:36:21PM
Driving tonight I realized how much this actually annoys me... at least three different times I thought "Today's Ping was right..."

FROM: Matt
DATE: Tuesday June 20, 2000 -- 11:45:43PM
Everytime someone flashes their lights at me I reach below the seat and reach for my heat. The I remember what it means.

FROM: Greg
DATE: Monday October 15, 2001 -- 1:59:58PM
After a short raod trip with my dad at the helm, I've realized that some people just haven't a clue when it comes to left lane riding or turn signal usage. Maybe there's a certain percentage who just wonder into the DMV, put 50 cents into the machine and get a license.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Monday October 15, 2001 -- 2:54:32PM
Oh, man, people not using turn signals is one of my WORST pet peeves.
A couple of weeks ago I was driving home to Madison (WI) with my boyfriend, from his parent's place about 15 miles out of town. I passed someone on the left, and just continued in the left lane on this rural highway. My boyfriend was AMAZED that I've never heard of the left-lane-only-for-passing rule. I grew up in MD, and never learned it there. I think it's because suburban MD has a LOT more traffic than, I think, ANY part of Wisconsin. I've heard complaints about traffic here in Madison, and I think that these people would be horrified todrive on 270, even at 7 in the morning there's more traffic on that highway than any road I've seen here.... maybe this rule is more applicable the less traffic the road has?

DATE: Monday October 15, 2001 -- 5:32:28PM
Monica -- C'mon... everybody knows girls can't drive.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Monday October 15, 2001 -- 6:08:19PM
...and boys don't cry.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Tuesday October 16, 2001 -- 6:50:14PM
Rob, I'm the exception ;-) and I DON'T go for sissy automatics.

DATE: Wednesday October 17, 2001 -- 9:10:23AM
Monica -- You're dreamy. :)

But seriously... I drive an automatic as I feel that I'd probably get myself and others killed if I drove a standard. With my limited mental capacity, I don't need something else to pay attention to.

FROM: Greg
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 1:20:27 pm
I have been doing my own study for the past two months. What I've come to realize is that women driving SUVs and minivans, talking on cell phones are notorious for left lane riding. And these are the people the have the lowest insurance rates!

Join with me, write to your congress and demand that men and women be given an insurance rates based on their driving records not on stereotypes!

FROM: Monica
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 2:29:09 pm
Greg, you sound like you're stereotyping too. ANYone driving an SUV is at LEAST a hazard, because of how poorly you can see traffic in front/to the side of one of those vehicles.
SUV="look at me! I have a resource depleting, eyesore of a status symbol!"
I wish I could say that people on bikes are more responsible, but here in Madison I saw a guy in the bike lane, talking on a cellphone. Sigh.

FROM: Turk
DATE: Friday May 16, 2003 -- 10:32:37 pm
When I'm on patrol I've never had the opportunity to observe someone pulling my pet peeve, passing stopped vehicles on the right of a solid white line. I've had numerous people cross the double white line from the off-ramp and cross two lanes unsafely, right in front of me, but have yet to observe anyone for the other offense. It usually happens when I'm in my own vehicle, like tonight when some guy did it and caused an accident.
Old Fezziwig - there is no reason to get into a "zone" or an unconscious state. It is not acceptable, you're not only responsible for your own safety, but others safety as well.

FROM: Greg
DATE: Wednesday November 19, 2003 -- 9:39:52 am
This topic doesn't seem to get that much traffic (no pun intended), however I feel obliged to throw in my 2 cents on the subject after a recent trip on Rt 95 thru MD.

I once again allowed myself to get road raged over the number of "idiots" who refused to move out of the left lane. Regardless of the reasons why they are there in the first place (i.e. "in the zone", or they just feel safer in a lane with an easy bail out and no hw entry/exit merging) I debated myself on whether or not failure to move over was malicious. I came to the conclusion that slow poke existence in the left is not out of malice, but failure to move over in response to light flashing certainly is.

I then thought of ways in which this problem could be solved. Certainly if we can "put a man on the moon"..., right? Based on the conclusion that these "idiots" are not initially in the left lane for malicious reasons, it seems reasonable to conclude that education and more adequate signage may be a key to solving the problem. After all, our goal is not to "lock-em-up" but rather, it is to clear the left lane for proper passing. Besides, many of these "idiots" our our own relatives (sad to say).

So I came up with an idea that may help. Here in VA, there are special markings in the HOV lanes that augment regular road side signs to increase awareness that special rules apply to travel in these lanes. While there are still plenty of HOV violators, the problem is not nearly as bad as the slow poke problem. And, since adequate "notice" is given, violators are subject to hefty fines if they are caught.

This same principal could be applied to the left lane passing issue. I propose that new standardized in-lane markings be used consistently throughout the country to indicate that the left lane is a special use lane. My initial thought is it could be some kind of curved arrow that conveys entry, passing and exit of the lane. Additionally, positioned next to each lane marking would be a sign that provides a brief verbal explanation of the lanes use and a menu of fines for "riding" in the left lane AND for passing on the right!

I'd be interested in any thoughts or comments. Maybe we could start a campaign complete with a web site:"!
- Greg

P.S. Speeder's Tip #14 - I've found that using the left-hand turn signal is much more effective than light flashing for getting slow-pokes out of the left lane. Give it a try on your next adventure.

Happy speeding.

FROM: CoorsLite
DATE: Thursday January 8, 2004 -- 3:42:16 pm
God Bless Illinois! They have passed a law effective the first of January that gives you 1/2 mile in the left lane to make your pass and return back right! Actually, most states h ave at least some verbage that makes it correct to "ride right," but most do a very poor job of educating new and existing drivers that this is the "preferred" mode of operation. Block headed drivers aside, I think most folks just don't know any better. Illinois is the 20th state to try and make it more explicit, and Colorado is following close behind.

FROM: Jack Newport
DATE: Saturday January 24, 2004 -- 11:50:40 am
I can't find anywhere online that tells about proper lane usage. What is the rule on proper lane usage? My wife says middle lane on 3 lane freeway is "cruising" lane. I say there's no such thing - stay to the right unless passing or going the same speed as the car in front of you. If there is no car in front of you, pass or move to the right.

FROM: NC driver
DATE: Friday January 21, 2005 -- 10:31:35 am
"When driving through North Carolina back in 1994 I noticed that the rules were pretty much reversed -- slower traffic kept to the left and the right lane was used for passing."

NC highways have never been that way.

FROM: autobahn
DATE: Friday January 21, 2005 -- 10:34:18 am
When driving through North Carolina back in 1994 I noticed that the rules were pretty much reversed -- slower traffic kept to the left and the right lane was used for passing."

Bahahaha! Are you sure you weren't in England?

FROM: Pissed MD Driver
DATE: Thursday April 20, 2006 -- 8:43:42 am
Man, I wish Marylanders would get it. Every morning it's the same thing. Clueless drivers kludging up the passing lane. So, what happens? No one can pass. I wish the cops would start jerking some of these idiots off the road with stiff fines to boot!!

Ossifer Friendly March 31, 2007, 11:23 pm

Using the the left for passing only keeps the speed up on the whole highway. If you get a couple cars to ride the left at a lower speed than the other lanes the traffic quickly becomes stop and go on the whole road cause people can not get around the Mr. Magoos, Sides it is hard to get out of the left lane if it is going slower than the other lanes. It is far cheaper to get people to use the left for passing only than build more lanes. Another benefit is that if there are vehicles that can go at a high rate on the left and you obey the law and stay slow on the right you do not get tickets for excess speed.

Ann March 4, 2010, 3:51 am

Thanks Aron your the only one who gets it. People wouldn’t have to pass on the right if people in the passing lane(left lane) would get their head out of their butt or get in the right hand lane. How about ticketing those in the left lane that aren’t passing, that’s the solution.

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