Left Lane Hogs: Speed Up, Stay Right, or Get a Ticket

In the right lane on the Inntal Autobahn A12 near Kirchbichl

In the right lane on the Inntal Autobahn A12 near Kirchbichl

By Jonathan Spira on 30 August 2016
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Growing up partially in Europe, where the majority of my time behind the wheel was on the Autobahns of Germany and Austria, I was struck by the poor lane discipline exhibited by drivers in the United States when it came to driving on the right and passing on the left.

Lane courtesy, or lane discipline, which essentially means that slower traffic should yield to faster traffic, is a dying art but many are attempting to resuscitate it in the name of safety.

While almost all U.S. states require slow-moving vehicles to keep right, some states are much stricter about it than others. New laws in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee have raised the penalties drivers would face and have stepped up enforcement at the same time. Otherwise, most states follow the Uniform Vehicle Code that requires drivers to keep right if they are traveling at a speed slower than the normal speed of traffic on that road, regardless of the posted speed limit.

Only one state, South Dakota, does not require drivers to keep right and a few states, including Alaska, Maryland, North Carolina, and Ohio, allow vehicles traveling at the speed limit to remain in the left lane even if impeding drivers who wish to go faster.

The National Motorists Association blames the 1973 imposition of a 55-mph (89 km/h) speed limit in the United States for the breakdown in lane discipline, saying it effectively emboldened slower drivers to stay in the left lane because they would not only be driving the speed limit but be able to impose it on others.

All of this would be anathema to drivers from other countries, especially those from Central and Western Europe.

What I witness, day in and day out, is not only disturbing but dangerous. A study by Wisconsin’s Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory showed that a car driving 5 mph (8 km/h) slower than surrounding traffic is more likely to cause an accident than a car going 5 mph faster.

Click here to continue to Page 2Benefits of Proper Left Lane Discipline

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