Slower traffic keep right
September 7, 2019 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Why do people insist on driving slowly in the left lane on the interstate?

I have been doing a lot more highway/interstate driving recently and I notice a lot of people cruising in the left lane at or slightly above the speed limit. Even when traffic begins to pile up behind them in that lane, they will not move over to the right. The result is that many people start passing them on the right.

Why do people do this? I thought it was because (at least when I took it over 20 years ago) they don't teach interstate driving technique in driver's ed. My friend told me that she thinks that people are purposely being jerks (like, trying to cause accidents I guess?). There are signs every few miles or so that say "slower traffic keep right", but maybe these people don't think they are "slower"?

Do you know why people do this? Are you one of these people who does this? What are your reasons for not moving over?
posted by King Bee to Travel & Transportation (53 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think most of the time it's an accident/zoning out, and people don't realize what they're doing. They were passing someone or it made sense at the time, and then they slowed down a bit and didn't notice and it's not always obvious that there's a lineup behind them. It only takes like one in a thousand of that happening for it to be noticable to you.
posted by brainmouse at 7:47 AM on September 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


I've been doing a lot of driving on a two-lane highway, and I find myself moving into the left lane a lot because there are people merging into the right lane, and they're not always very good at it. I wonder if some people like to be in the left lane because it's out of the way of merging traffic.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:52 AM on September 7, 2019 [34 favorites]


Could be where they learned to drive. I grew up and learned to drive in the always trafficky suburbs of DC, where all lanes are treated as equivalent, barring any HOV designation. The whole concept of "the left lane is for passing," while technically on the books in my hometown, was not something I really thought of until I moved away to a much smaller town.
posted by basalganglia at 7:54 AM on September 7, 2019 [6 favorites]


The effect of one person doing it is massively multiplied so I don't think it's anywhere near as prevalent as it feels like.

I'm sure there are some people doing it on purpose (in fact I've seen it happen) but I suspect about 99% of the time it's pure obliviousness.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:54 AM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have been told by several people that do this it that they have decided they refuse to enable people to break the law by speeding. They feel that whatever speed they are driving is the correct speed, and if you want to go faster too bad.
posted by Requiax at 7:56 AM on September 7, 2019 [29 favorites]


I mean, one could equally ask where people got the idea that there is a special lane reserved for people who are breaking the law.
posted by eruonna at 8:15 AM on September 7, 2019 [52 favorites]


At least in WA, you are still obliged to not left-lane-camp, even if you are going the speed limit:

From Ask A Trooper

Q: The law requires a driver who is “holding up traffic” with several cars directly behind to pull over and let the traffic pass. If the driver is going below the speed limit, it makes sense. However, if the driver is traveling at the speed limit, are they still obligated to let traffic pass — traffic that wants to exceed the speed limit?

A: Basically, yes.

We certainly don’t want to support travelling in excess of the posted speed, but the legislature basically addressed this with the last line of the law…a slow moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.

Annoying, but given that speeders will tend to just inside pass over the speed limit instead, probably preferable.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:18 AM on September 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


Thanks for all the answers so far!

eruonna: you can be ticketed in Texas for camping out in the left lane, so it is actually against the law.
posted by King Bee at 8:22 AM on September 7, 2019 [8 favorites]


Many years ago I drove across country with an idiot who was determined to stay in the left lane. He had never been on any highway before outside of Long Island where, apparently, people use all lanes the same. It was terrifying to have huge trucks passing us on the right. Between that and a variety of other factors I got out in Salt Lake City and hitchhiked the rest of the way to San Francisco.
posted by mareli at 8:29 AM on September 7, 2019 [5 favorites]


I wonder if some people like to be in the left lane because it's out of the way of merging traffic.

This may be a regional anomaly, but around here, the leftmost lane is most definitely not 'out of the way of merging.' That's because entering drivers typically start moving to the leftmost lane as soon as they get on, which at rush hour causes the right lane to be the fastest. I have no idea why these people haven't noticed that.

I've been driving for about 55 years, and noticed early on that the cars that impeded the left lane at non-rush hours were more likely than not to have orange license plates. Those would be NY and NJ plates. It's much less noticeable now. Either those states' drivers are more aware now, or the huge increase in traffic volume has blanketed the effect, or both.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:38 AM on September 7, 2019


I got barked at by a police megaphone for driving 65 on the DC Beltway, so I understand the petty motivations of the exact-speed-limit drivers.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:42 AM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've always assumed that (at least some of) the people driving slower in the left lane are doing so because the right lane is too annoying with traffic entering and exiting, and the middle lanes are scary when there's traffic passing them on both sides. Of course, this assumption is based on my experience driving/riding on highways with 3+ lanes in each direction.
posted by DrGail at 8:44 AM on September 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


I've noticed that there is some fraction of the population who are largely oblivious to what's going on around them. Some people refuse to move over when you are trying to merge onto a highway, despite the fact that there is enough space in the neighboring lane. I don't think they do this on purpose -- they're just clueless. One of my acquaintances routinely parks his car without any regard to the lines drawn on the parking lot. Thankfully, there are not many such people -- maybe 1% -- but as someone else pointed out above, it only takes a small number of space cadets to snarl up traffic on a busy interstate.
posted by JD Sockinger at 8:45 AM on September 7, 2019 [13 favorites]


For a lot of people whose day-to-day experience with limited-access highways is mainly in and around cities, keeping to the right is neither relevant nor practical because traffic is almost always heavy enough to make it a pointless practice. On the occasions when they're traveling cross-country they forget that the left lane is for passing. People zone-out on long trips.

Also, standards are lower in the US for education, testing, and enforcement compared to a lot of other countries (if that's the reason you're asking). I took the driving test a few years ago while living in the UK and it's much more comprehensive and stringent than the test I took as a teenager in the US. It's also easy to see differences between the US and Canada -- driving across Ontario and a few US states last autumn I was amazed by how conscientious drivers in Canada were about keeping to the right compared to drivers in Michigan and Wisconsin.
posted by theory at 9:11 AM on September 7, 2019 [11 favorites]


And then there are the left exits...
posted by SereneStorm at 9:22 AM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


My ex partner hated the middle lane because she'd be forced to allow people to shift over in front of her for merging cars. She preferred to hang in the left lane and wait for people to tailgate her before thinking about moving over, or not. Basically she was an asshole who loved control and lived for petty drama.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:42 AM on September 7, 2019 [6 favorites]


If you ask the inveterate left lane campers (as opposed to those who are simply zoned out and correct themselves when they notice what they are doing), the answer is universally about policing other people's speed. The greatest irony of it all is that the vast majority of the self-help roadblocks aren't driving at the speed limit, but 5-10mph over. If you ask about that, they'll say (in effect) that everyone who chooses to drive more slowly is a moron and everyone who wants to drive faster than they do is a manic.

It's one of the few cases in which jokey cartoons addressing the topic accurately depict the thought process behind the behavior.

(Driving really does bring out the worst in people for some reason)
posted by wierdo at 9:48 AM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


I often use the left lane to pass, but apparently don't pass sufficiently quickly enough for those behind me. They then start passing me on the right, and I get kind of trapped in the left lane until I can safely move over. I'm already going 9 to 12 mph over the speed limit, and I refuse to push past 85 to try and beat the people who are now passing me on the right (yes, my blinker is on; I don't want to be in this situation either, lol). That just feels really dangerous to me, especially on busy highways where people are also actively moving into that lane from the right. n.b. - I live in New Jersey, so YMMV.
posted by k8lin at 10:30 AM on September 7, 2019 [29 favorites]


In addition to what’s mentioned, poor driving skill accounts for some of it. The right lane is for trucks and a bit too slow for them, and they’re not good at staying in the middle lane (or feel that they aren’t) so they drive on the left to have an empty “lane” on one side.

But mainly it’s just inattention or passive aggression.
posted by michaelh at 10:38 AM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've noticed that there is some fraction of the population who are largely oblivious to what's going on around them.

When I've been in cars with people doing this, it's usually for this reason. I feel that there is more distracted driving than there used to be, so people get in the lefthand lane and then something happens (text, phone call, podcast switch) and then space out and not only don't continue passing people but sort of forget they're in the passing lane. I am an anxious passenger so this agitates me, but I've sort of admired people who don't get rattled by people riding their ass in traffic (or elsewhere). Other reasons include

- a way to avoid exit on/off on a two lane highway
- people who feel they deserve to be in the fast lane (I don't know why but this has always seemed to be white men in fancy cars) but don't need to follow the social conventions of using it for passing or going very fast. My father always drive in the fast lane.
- a way to avoid trucks which are (where I'm from) banned from the fast lane
- they're from somewhere else where all lanes are for driving and they don't know or don't care about the local rules
posted by jessamyn at 10:58 AM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Because people are inconsiderate, and being sealed up inside a car (with its attendant anonymity) makes people even more so.

If you ask ... the answer is universally about policing other people's speed.

I disagree, this is not universal. The left-lane camper I live with is oblivious to other traffic; it's all about taking the easiest path.
posted by Rash at 11:02 AM on September 7, 2019


you can be ticketed in Texas for camping out in the left lane

You can be, but do you know anybody who's ever received such a ticket? Like misaligned headlights or a missing muffler, enforcement is too difficult, so it doesn't happen.
posted by Rash at 11:04 AM on September 7, 2019


I know someone who believes the left lane is likely to be in better condition, smoother, and they refer it for that reason, and, yes, they are a jerk in other ways.
posted by theora55 at 11:06 AM on September 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


I often use the left lane to pass, but apparently don't pass sufficiently quickly enough for those behind me. They then start passing me on the right, and I get kind of trapped in the left lane until I can safely move over. I'm already going 9 to 12 mph over the speed limit, and I refuse to push past 85 to try and beat the people who are now passing me on the right (yes, my blinker is on; I don't want to be in this situation either, lol). That just feels really dangerous to me, especially on busy highways where people are also actively moving into that lane from the right.

This is it for me, big-time. Pretty frequently I'm driving the length of North Carolina on I-40, so it runs through rural areas and big interchanges and some thick city traffic, and a situation has happened a few times in the past where I'll move to the left to get around an old-timer in a farm vehicle, then feel effectively "trapped" there because I'm not zipping around at a speed that the people behind me find satisfactory. It feels like there is no safe way to go about it, except to stick closer to the speed limit, but apparently infringing someone's right to speed 15+ over the limit is my problem.
posted by witchen at 11:13 AM on September 7, 2019 [14 favorites]


I know someone who believes the left lane is likely to be in better condition, smoother, and they refer it for that reason.

It's not just their imagination. In many cases the right hand lane is in much worse condition, rougher and rutted, due to traffic from heavy trucks.
posted by JackFlash at 11:15 AM on September 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Nestoring
posted by TheRaven at 11:21 AM on September 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


Can confirm via direct conversation at least one "but I'm driving the speed limit, what's the problem?" left lane camper. This person drives infrequently and did not seem to grasp the importance of following local driving custom (where fast lane speeds are routinely 10+ mph over limit) as well as the stated law.

The hazards of passing on the right are also not heavily emphasized in US driver education, if I recall correctly, vs. for example in Germany where passing on the right is illegal in most cases. I infer that some people camp in the left lane because they are on a long trip and do not plan to exit the freeway for some time, and don't see any real danger in having people go around them on the right.
posted by 4rtemis at 11:26 AM on September 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Along with all the other reasons mentioned (inattention, cluelessness, passive-aggressive "speed limit enforcement"), trolling might be a factor in some cases as well (there have been a few times when I've passed someone going 64, 60, or even less in the left lane, and I've noticed them smirking as I've passed them).
posted by gtrwolf at 11:45 AM on September 7, 2019


You can be, but do you know anybody who's ever received such a ticket? Like misaligned headlights or a missing muffler, enforcement is too difficult, so it doesn't happen.

20 years ago that was the case. In the past 5 it has become increasingly common, at least in states that have explicit slower traffic keep right or (much more strict) keep right except to pass laws and signage, for state police/highway patrol to make it a priority, even if only on press release week. That is partly because they found that the move over laws, which the police themselves do very much care about, are essentially useless at getting drivers to stop flying by emergency vehicles stopped at the roadside without also enforcing lane discipline in other contexts.
posted by wierdo at 12:16 PM on September 7, 2019


There is generally inconvenience and even a greater degree of risk in the right-hand lane, due to cars entering and exiting the highway. I stick to that lane anyway (when there are only two lanes) because I drive the speed limit and don't want the risk that comes with obstructing faster traffic.

The fact that many choose to disregard speed limits doesn't bother me much; there are always people who break laws. But I bitterly resent being compelled to inconvenience myself just to facilitate their law breaking. It's easy to understand why some people won't.
posted by wjm at 12:19 PM on September 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


Some of this may be caused by variations in local law. In Massachusetts and most of the Northeast, the left lane is the "fast lane". In some other parts of the country, the left lane is the "passing lane"; it is only supposed to be used when you are actively passing another car.

Someone from fast lane country can behave in unexpected ways when visiting passing lane country.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 12:40 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


I had an ex boyfriend who had a slightly different take on the speed limit policing thing. He basically believed that the left lane was for “fast” traffic (people who are going over the speed limit) and the right lane was for “slow” traffic (people going the speed limit or below). Which almost works, except that if he was going like 5 over, he wouldn’t move over no matter who was piling up behind him trying to go faster. “I’m driving over the speed limit! I’m in the fast lane!”
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:43 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


Here in Australia, where we drive on the left and the right lane is the overtaking lane, every highway has great big signs that read KEEP LEFT UNLESS OVERTAKING at the start of any section where it splits into multiple lanes.

And yes, people do get ticketed for ignoring these. Nanny State ftw.
posted by flabdablet at 12:44 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


I've been driving in the North East/Mid-Atlantic for forty years and have never heard of anyone being ticketed for camping out in the passing lane. A quick search finds that the rules here in PA are:

Pennsylvania Law: Driving In Left Lane Prohibited Unless You Are:

Overtaking and passing another vehicle
Traveling faster than traffic flow
Moving left to allow traffic to merge
Preparing for a left turn
Steering clear of emergency responders on the right

So there's a lot of fuzziness to the law and it would seem hard to enforce.
posted by octothorpe at 1:06 PM on September 7, 2019


I assume that people who drive primarily in freeways in congested metro areas are either zoning out or/and got used to hanging out in the left lane regardless of whether they are passing cars to their right because they think of themselves as driving fast. I confess I thought I was a fast lane driver for most of my 20s. Although on my multi-state road trips, I was much more mindful of staying to the right when there were only 2 lanes (per direction).

Here in LA, I do my best to only use the left lane when I am actively passing a car as I drive over the speed limit but nowhere close to the fastest drivers. My main commute is on an interstate freeway (the 10) with 8 lanes of traffic, 4 lanes per direction. I mostly retrained myself to stay in the 2nd lane from the left after getting stuck in the leftmost lane due to aggressive speeders weaving in and out of traffic (still not used to LA traffic). But I admit every once in a while I am that grouch who punishes a tailgating car by not getting out of their way as fast as I could. Like, is it enjoyable to accelerate to 90mph when there is a teeny bit of room, even when you can see the mass of cars ahead of you, and then ride my bumper while I am going 76mph to pass a car going 72mph on my right?

I don't have road rage, but I have road profound disapproval.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:09 PM on September 7, 2019 [8 favorites]


Most of my highway driving is in the city where the speed limits are only 50 MPH, there's only two lanes each way and there are entrances and exits on both the right and left so there isn't really any concept of a passing lane or a driving lane. We also have ramps from the right have stop signs and no space to merge so you need to move left to let them get up to speed. (Driving here is always entertaining).
posted by octothorpe at 1:15 PM on September 7, 2019


Some of this may be caused by variations in local law. In Massachusetts and most of the Northeast, the left lane is the "fast lane". In some other parts of the country, the left lane is the "passing lane"

While that might be a matter of local custom, it’s certainly not a matter of local law. Massachusetts highways are littered with signs specifically reminding you that the left lane is for passing.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:21 PM on September 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


And for a couple of years, the Amber Alert electronic billboards in MA have intermittently shown the message TRAVEL IN LEFT LANE PERMITTED ONLY WHEN PASSING. This is in place of all the KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS signs that they took down years ago. Which signs were effective, except for those orange-plate people...

I stay in the right lane as much as possible, at about 10mph over the posted limit, usually on cruise control. I seldom have any problem with entering traffic, because they can see how fast I'm going, and can speed up to enter before me (and usually zoom off to the left to join the high-velocity frenzy). or enter behind me, because after all, I have the right of way. Anyone wants to go more than my 10 over, they can go around me on the left.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:49 PM on September 7, 2019


I generally try to stay out of the left-most lane of traffic outside of cities as I go what I consider a moderate speed (within about 5-10 mph of the limit) and I hate having someone tailgate me more than speed past me, but here are reasons I might be there:
- Overtaking (obviously), especially if there are a lot of semi-trucks or trailers around
- Easier to maintain my cruising speed, if using cruise control (though if I see someone coming up behind me, I'll usually try to get out of their way)
- The road condition is better and/or safer
- There are a lot of entrances and exits with merging traffic nearby
- I zoned out for a bit and haven't checked my rearview recently
posted by Aleyn at 3:05 PM on September 7, 2019


In Massachusetts if you’re driving slow in the left lane it’s perfectly acceptable for faster drivers to tailgate you until you move over and, if that doesn’t work start flashing your headlights. As a last resort, pass on the right.

To me this seems like a distinct, effective, attention-getting move and if I’m zoned out in the left lane I appreciate it and am happy to get out of the way because I know people will do the same for me.*

Here on the west coast, faster freeway drivers tend to just tailgate or pass on the right. I’ve been tempted to flash my headlights but it’s just Not Done here.

The first time I crossed the border into Oregon I saw a sign that said something about slower traffic keep right. At last, I thought, a state where people drive the right way. This is the opposite of the truth here.

*I haven’t driven in Massachusetts since 2001, the state may have descended into madness by now.
posted by bendy at 4:29 PM on September 7, 2019


I a) don't drive all that much any more, and b) don't camp out in the left lane for the fun of it, but I do often pass people slower than the speed demons would like.

Basically my stance is that if you're upset about me obeying the speed limit in ANY lane, that's a you problem, not a me problem.
posted by ktkt at 4:50 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


Just over a month ago I drove from the area north of Seattle to the area north of Akron. On the way here I was really, REALLY careful about only using the left lane to pass people (especially since my car was loaded down with all my worldly belongings), moving over into a righthand lane again as soon as it was safe to do so. Even in the parts of the country where the speed limit was 80 mph and I was going 90 or 95 in order to pass, I would frequently have some absolute asshole in a minivan full of children roaring up behind me like I was going 50 and staying dangerously close to my car until I was able to move over and they were able to zoom by me at 100-110.

Last weekend I went to the Ikea in Pittsburgh and tried to stay out of the left lane unless I needed to pass, but unfortunately afternoon traffic got heavy and at one point I was stuck in the left lane for a few minutes before I could completely pass the string of cars in the right lane. Even when it was plainly obvious that I had nowhere on the right that I could go, even with a vehicle right in front of me that could be clearly seen over the roof of my car, even with a state trooper visible at the side of the road obviously looking for people to pull over, I had assholes roaring right up behind me so close they might as well have been in my car with me. Like, what am I supposed to do in that situation? I'd LOVE to not be in front of that, believe me.
posted by palomar at 6:28 PM on September 7, 2019 [8 favorites]


Like, is it enjoyable to accelerate to 90mph when there is a teeny bit of room, even when you can see the mass of cars ahead of you, and then ride my bumper while I am going 76mph to pass a car going 72mph on my right?

This is where my best ever bumper sticker really shines. It reads, in quite small writing,

THE CLOSER YOU GET
THE SLOWER I DRIVE
posted by flabdablet at 9:54 PM on September 7, 2019 [5 favorites]


I saw a bumper sticker that said:
I DRIVE THE SPEED LIMIT
IF YOU DON"T LIKE IT
CALL A COP
posted by lungtaworld at 5:57 AM on September 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


In Ontario many city people refer to the passing lane as the "fast lane."

They choose to drive in the "fast lane" because they want to get where they're going quickly, and the "fast lane" seems to be the lane most consistent with their impatience. And, conveniently, it often has stretches of open laneway -- if others are using it as a passing lane -- so it's easy to find a nice, comfortable spot without feeling herded in.

I do not believe it is coincidence that the "fast lane" is often peopled with vehicles we often associate with entitlement, like BMWs and unholy massive white SUVs. This is why I sometimes refer to it as "the VIP lane." People using this lane simply want freedom in excess of that available to the rest of the drivers on the road, and feel that is their proper right.

In short, they're dicks. Sometimes oblivious dicks, sometimes impatient dicks, but always, always dicks.
posted by Construction Concern at 6:21 AM on September 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Cracking down on drivers holding up the left lane
That law would penalize drivers who were driving below the speed limit in the left lane. I don't think it would ever be enforced, because the people driving "slowly" in the fast lane are almost always going at or above the speed limit, except in situations where the traffic is going below the speed limit, and in that case it's often impossible to get back over to the right lane.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2019


In my 30 years of driving experience, highways in Washington state have always included signs saying "Keep Right Except To Pass" and "Slower Traffic Keep Right."

According to this survey, Washington is one of the 29 states that require slower traffic to stay out of the left lane.

Nonetheless, I encounter slower drivers camping in the left lane every time I drive on I-5. I don't pretend to know their motivation for endangering everyone else on the road by blatantly disregarding traffic laws. But based on bumper stickers and comments in this thread, I suspect that some of these drivers are speed limit vigilantes, enforcing their idiosyncratic notions of four-wheeled justice.
posted by lumpy at 8:47 AM on September 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


Along with all the other reasons mentioned (inattention, cluelessness, passive-aggressive "speed limit enforcement"), trolling might be a factor in some cases as well (there have been a few times when I've passed someone going 64, 60, or even less in the left lane, and I've noticed them smirking as I've passed them).

Probably should have pointed out that said cars were already going below the speed limit in the left lane and weren't doing the "THE CLOSER YOU GET, THE SLOWER I DRIVE" routine.

I've also seen said folks do this in the far left lane of three- and even four-lane highways, so of course even the "vigilantes" going only the speed limit have to pass them on the right. Not as common as the vigilantes or the speeders but defintely breaking some (official or otherwise) traffic safety laws there.
posted by gtrwolf at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2019


I have been told by several people that do this it that they have decided they refuse to enable people to break the law by speeding

I had always suspected...

More reasons for left-lane campers: Only having to account for traffic on one side, and, relatedly, no merging hassles (why I think limousines do it). Another reason: talking on the phone without having to think about driving.
posted by rhizome at 2:32 PM on September 8, 2019


People always say that the left lane is for passing, yet the speed limit applies to all the lanes. So yeah I may go 57 in a 55 to pass, but I'm not going to go much faster for the impatient.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:53 PM on September 8, 2019


In certain freeway stretches where I live, the slow lane will often be the most empty, particularly under traffic. People HATE merging, I think because it confronts them with the fact that they don't know traffic rules and laws and are also selfish.
posted by rhizome at 3:43 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


based on bumper stickers and comments in this thread, I suspect that some of these drivers are speed limit vigilantes, enforcing their idiosyncratic notions of four-wheeled justice

I'm not a speed limit vigilante. I occupy the main lane until I need to overtake, at which point I switch to the overtaking lane and perform the manouevre at whatever speed is necessary to reduce surprise and inconvenience to surrounding drivers to the minimum attainable level. If that involves temporarily exceeding the speed limit in pursuit of safety, so be it. It usually doesn't, because most of the time my driving does not suck.

No, what I am is an anti-tailgating vigilante. The motivation for THE CLOSER YOU GET, THE SLOWER I DRIVE was my observation that as the front car I'm actually in a position to enforce the two-second rule for tailgating avoidance as well as observing it myself with respect to the car in front of mine.

So if the car behind me is maintaining a consistent position that's less than two seconds back, I gently and gradually slow down until the distance between us amounts to two seconds at my new speed. If the following driver closes up that distance even further, I slow down even more.

Their safe choices then become (a) overtake me, usually with plenty of furious gesturing and swearing because that's how tailgaters roll (b) drop back to at least two seconds, at the first sign of their doing which I will begin to speed up again or (c) come to a dead stop; in no case do they get the opportunity to rear-end me except deliberately. And since I am a six foot bearded male, equipped with front and rear dashcams, and live in a country where casual encounters with firearms are not really a thing, I'm happy with any of those outcomes.

All that said: I can see how drivers whose desire to enforce the rules is based more on rigid notions of Right and Wrong than on maintaining an actually safe configuration with respect to surrounding traffic might take it upon themselves to block the overtaking lane deliberately for that reason.
posted by flabdablet at 12:41 AM on September 9, 2019


I think the use of cruise control plays a big part in all this (as referenced in the "Nestoring" link above): people will go out of their way to avoid having to reset/adjust/re-engage their cruise, so once they've got it set at a speed their comfortable with, woe betide anybody stuck behind them.
posted by Bron at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


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