Passing Fancy - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Passing Fancy

Some good news: Left lane hogs are finally getting the attention they deserve from traffic cops — and traffic laws.

In at least two states — Colorado and Florida — cops are beginning to target drivers who squat in the far left lane and refuse to move right to let faster-moving traffic get by. For decades, these drivers have been allowed to create rolling roadblocks and interrupt the smooth (and therefore safe) flow of traffic with virtual impunity because “failure to yield” laws were either not on the books — or not enforced. And twenty-plus years of dumbed-down, politicized “driver’s education” and “safety” campaigns had effectively propagandized the populace into believing there was only one cardinal sin — “speeding.”

And so the focus of traffic “safety” enforcement was speed limit laws — which of course were often ridiculous (the best example being the 55-mph National Maximum Speed Limit that Congress finally repealed in 1995). But these under-posted, artificially low speed limits were found to be very useful in terms of generating an unforeseen flow of easy money for state and local governments — who soon became addicted. And it was so much easier for traffic cops to simply shoot fish in a barrel with their radar guns — because almost every car on the road was going faster than the absurdly low posted limits.

Much easier than actually looking for dangerous drivers, anyhow.

This is finally changing, though.

In Colorado, state police have written more than 500 tickets to left lane hogs since the beginning of the year; in Florida, a bill is on the legislative docket that would impose a $60 fine and four DMV “demerit points” on the driving record of motorists who refuse to allow faster moving traffic by.

Twenty years ago, this would have been an unthinkable violation of the politically correct orthodoxy that only “speed kills” — and therefore only enforcing speed limits (no matter how absurd or contrived) matters.

But in fact, people who refuse to move right represent a major traffic safety hazard — whether “they doing the speed limit” (as they often bleat in self-righteous high dudgeon) or not.

By refusing to allow other motorists to get by, the left lane dawdler causes traffic to back up unnaturally; drivers then angrily jockey for position — and typically are forced into making a passing attempt in the right lane to get around the hog — who seems to get some sort of weird passive-aggressive satisfaction from his obstinacy.

The situation is frustrating, distracting — and very unsafe. In fact, the lack of reflexive lane courtesy in this country is arguably the biggest single safety problem we have — not “speeding.”

Consider the example of Germany — where yielding to faster-moving traffic is part of the national culture and adhered to religiously. As a result, it is possible for the Germans to have unlimited speed Autobahns — where drivers in the left lane often overtake other cars at triple digit speeds. But because German drivers are taught to use their mirrors — and immediately move right to allow faster-moving approaching cars to pass — they have a lower accident and fatality rate than we do here in the United States with our dumbed-down speed limits.

It will take time for the facts about the danger of left lane hogging to sink into the general consciousness — the consequence of 20-plus years of neglect and outright disinformation peddled by know-nothing “safety” advocates.

But, at last, things are beginning to change for the better.

Eric Peters
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