For those of us who spend a fair amount of time driving the interstate highways, few things are more frustrating than the self-righteous or completely unaware drivers that block the left lane, intentionally (or otherwise) driving below the speed limit.
In most jurisdictions, blocking the passing (left) lane is illegal, but drivers are rarely ticketed for this offense. We say rarely, as NBC Washington reports that a Maryland woman recently received a summons for doing just that.
Though the ticket was written for “driving 63 mph in a 65 mph zone,” that’s not what’s pertinent here. The summons also cites the driver for failure to keep right, which is the real nature of the offense.
In her own defense, the woman claims that conditions, specifically high winds, prevented her from driving any faster. We’re 100-percent certain that no ticket would have been issued had she been driving in the travel lane (generally defined as the center lane or lanes), since speed was not the real issue (despite NBC’s sensationalistic headline).
As those of use who rack up serious highway mileage each year know, it isn’t speed that kills. Instead, it’s a differential in speed, coupled with driver inexperience, that often proves deadly. Force someone to make a high-speed pass because you believe it’s your God-given right to obstruct the passing lane, and you put everyone at risk.
A representative of AAA Mid-Atlantic says the “violation sends the wrong message,” but we couldn’t possibly disagree more. Instead, perhaps it advises drivers that they should pay attention when driving on the highway, or even (gasp) learn the concept that the left lane is to be used for passing only, as specified in every driver’s manual we’ve ever seen.
Though we lack scientific evidence to prove this, common sense tells us that issuing more left-lane violations would ultimately improve traffic flow and reduce road rage, while generating revenue for under-funded police departments. That sounds like a win-win scenario to us.