4th June 2019

Why “Left Lane Drivers”, Anyway?

From time to time, our choice of the name, “Left Lane Drivers of America” has been challenged. The “Left Lane Drivers” part of it, that is (So far, nobody has felt compelled to challenge the “of America” part). Typically, someone writes and reminds us that the Left Lane is “for passing only” and that that’s the law. What’s more, the usual suggestion is that it is “arrogant” for someone to drive continuously in the Left Lane and/or it is “hypocritical” to do so, since we claim to be trying to get people out of the Left Lanes in the first place.

For those who are somewhat muddleheaded about this, we will now attempt to provide a bit of clarification. And, since this kind of challenge provides us with the opportunity to provoke what might be a new thought or two about the function/purpose of the Left Lane, we hope to take advantage of that, as well.

Technically/literally, “Left Lane driver” simply means someone who is driving (or who drives) in the Left Lane. Nothing too mysterious about that. However, in today’s jargon, the term has developed an additional nuance.

We’ve all heard the Left Lane described as the “Fast Lane” and there is something to this. Even though the original idea (and thus, the resulting law) behind the Left Lane was apparently one of only entering it for the express purpose and brief moment of passing another vehicle (and then immediately returning to the right lane), consider the fact that this was originally conceived more than 50 years ago, long before we had the kind of congestion we have today. Given the fact that we’ve now got so many cars on the freeways that all lanes are required just to accommodate the ever-increasing volume, it seems only reasonable for us to re-think the Left Lane and, ultimately, formally re-define its function.

In our opinion, the Left Lane should be the lane where faster traffic (relative to the right lanes) should be flowing. In contrast to the earlier, almost wooden idea that the Left Lane is “for passing only“, we think we’re now seeing evidence which suggests a capitulation of sorts to the hard reality of 21st century traffic and a resulting morphing of the understanding/purpose of the Left Lane in a very practical way, viz., more and more traffic signs are now decreeing, “Slower Traffic Move Right” or, “Slower Traffic Keep Right”. This is a significant change. Capice?

So long as someone in the Left Lane is moving faster (relatively so) than vehicles to the right, then there should be no issue with him/her continuing there until such time that there is no traffic in the right lanes or until such time that somebody comes up on their tail wanting to go faster than they (in both situations, they should promptly move to the right lane).

In sum, then, one can be a “Left Lane driver” while advocating the basic platform of Left Lane Drivers of America.  [JAT]

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