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What Really Grinds my Gears : Poor Lane Usage


What really grinds my gears? People who don’t know how to drive. I see a lot of eyes rolling saying “Well Duh, you didn’t strain a muscle with that one.” What is the biggest Indicator though? Yes, Pun intended but more on that later.

Is it driving slow or too fast? Is it Belligerent or Ham-fisted / numb driving? Is it poor lane usage? Answer is more or less the last one as driving too slow or too fast is a matter of perception that has many indicators or whether someone numb or belligerent is also a matter of circumstance except for extremities. Having more emphasis on how the lanes work during driving courses and having those enforced as much as the whole “Speed Kills” thing. A common joke is that it isn’t the speed that kills you. It's becoming instantly stationary, that’s what gets you. Back on the topic however

The Belligerent Drivers Most of the time when you get an image of a guy in a BMW or an Audi zooming through the lanes left and right with no turn signals in between the lanes driving way over the speed limit. To clarify I am driving 20mph above on highway and this guy zooms by like it's nobody’s business My personal preference if you are going to be a dick and pass me at least indicate you are doing so. My ego will be hurt, but I will understand. Most extreme examples include guys tailgating you, which is illegal and can be considered intimidation btw, turning high beams on. Also failing to recognize that there are cars under 140 horsepower, and they have a hard time accelerating and my personal favorite packing the right lane that is about to end, maybe saving you 30 seconds of your total drive. And racing you at the lights which I call the ‘94 Honda Civic special. It usually ends with a middle finger or something about me going to “Fornicate Myself”

The Ham-fisted / Numb Drivers This is your Kia\Hyundai and some Toyotas and SUV territory. It is cruel that we don’t have a better public transport system. These people are beyond less than interested in the business of driving. They always have time, won’t take a hint. Drive under the speed limit which if it is more than 10mph lower than the speed limit that it is a hazard especially on highways. They usually sit on the left most lane and hang around there like a house cat trying to join a lion pride. This is further accentuated when we come across a few light flurries. This is where it gets comical. People buy a large 4x4 SUV that can conquer the amazon jungle, was winter tested in the artic and yest they drive 5mph because they haven’t bothered learning how to turn on snow mode on their tank of a car. These should do themself a favor and get a driverless car as soon as those are safe and available, because I cannot see a machine driving worse than they are. How does lane usage play into it? According to the folks at AAA no less, most typical three lane highway classifies itself into lower speed through lane, through lane (I call it a cruising lane however), and a passing lane. (Vary Handy guide linked here that I suggest you review) There is an accelerating\decelerating lane that pop up as enter exit lanes, but these are obvious, so we’ll focus on the main three.




How does lane usage play into it? According to the folks at AAA no less, most typical three lane highway classifies itself into lower speed through lane, through lane (I call it a cruising lane however), and a passing lane. (Vary Handy guide linked here that I suggest you review) There is an accelerating\decelerating lane that pop up as enter exit lanes, but these are obvious, so we’ll focus on the main three.

Lower Speed Through Lane If your Steering wheel is on the left that would be your right most lane. It is designed for people to prepare to exit or just entering the highway as soon as you get up to speed turn on your signal and head to the middle lane of the highway or the cruising lane when it is safe.

Cruising Lane(s) Whatever your steering wheel side is on this will be the middle lane or lanes on a four or more-lane highway. This is where you should spend most of your journey and use the highway until you are getting ready to exit where you move to the Lower Speed Through lane. If the person in front of you is driving a little slow, is a truck and has stuff falling off or you just want to pass the person safely for no reason this is where we move on to the passing lane.

Passing Lane First a preface on the highway you always should pass on the left in a multi lane highway mentioned prior. (Right if you are in one of those countries the steering wheel is on the right) Deeper dive on philosophy below. When you do use the passing lane, the idea is to indicate with the turn signal pass the vehicle in front of you and get back to the cruising lane when safe distance is left for the driver you are passing. Passing lane needs to be open constantly it is the passing lane and not an express lane after all. Repeat this as you see fit but don’t hang around the passing lane.

Philosophy on passing left only Most of it boils down to safety, Efficiency and common courtesy. When someone is in a hurry and running late having the expectation of that lane open allows them to get there quickly and safely. The people who stick to the middle and not in a hurry are not impacting those who are. By sticking to the cruising lane and chilling out is less stressful and saves on gas. Another part of it is the highway patrol should punish the extremes more on the poor lane usage tickets usage than the speed alone. I am a big proponent of Virginia’s $100 fine for lollygagging on the passing lane and $2500 fine for aggressive driving. With the combination of those two we can improve our commute. That and Public transportation needs a rethink.



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