Driving - In which we perfect drivers complain about others.

If I could add to this peeve because it’s me as well, it’s when I move to the right lane because I KNOW I’m not going as fast as those in the left lane, so someone gets in the right lane behind be and tailgates. JUST STOP IT.

Around here the far right lane is the secret lane, it’s where I go to pass because nobody but semis use it.

Growing up driving in NJ 30 years ago, I learned real quick to be a right lane driver on the Turnpike and Parkway. Everyone busy jockeying to pass each other in the fast lane (or the Hammer Lane, in my Dad’s CB parlance) and middle lanes, and I’d be cruising right by everyone in the Granny Lane.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen traffic light enough to make cruise control a possibility. It doesn’t help that the geography around here means you very often can’t see what’s coming more than a few hundred feet ahead.

Adaptive cruise control for the win. I just bought a new car with ACC and it is so awesome. I set it at 70 and take my foot off the pedal. I usually have stop-and-go traffic all the way home. The ACC handles it fine including braking all the way to zero, restarting, handling people who enter my lane, etc. And setting it at 70 keeps my lead foot under control so I’m safer, use less gas, and am just more chill. Definitely the best feature of my new car.

Lol, I live in California where motorcycles are permitted legally to “split” traffic lanes, that is drive in the space between lanes. It seems insane, particularly when a dude flies by 3" from your side mirror at 50mph while you’re stuck in traffic. I always think they’re one unexpected lane change away from death, but I gather that it can be done safely. And, like zipper merging, it more efficiently utilizes the roadway and eases congestion, so I don’t get too spun up about it anymore.

Tailgating annoys the shit out of me. If I have a pet peeve, that’s it. I used to just take my foot off the gas when people were tailgating, until they either slowed down or went around me. 15 or so years ago I was driving up highway 24 toward Boston and a dude pulled in right behind me, like I could only see his windshield in my rearview-mirror he was so close. I took my foot off the gas and slowed from 80 to 75 down all the way to 50, dude still riding me. Then all of a sudden he turns on his red and blues. It was a cop so close I couldn’t even tell. I pulled all the way off the highway and he sped off away from me. Asshole. Now if someone is tailgating me, I pull over and let them pass or change lanes away from them.

You should like me but I did this once with my wife in the car and after we were back on the road and going again she said, “A woman should never do that and please don’t expect me too either.” I then understood how dangerous that could be if that person tailgating pulls over with you. Now I just limp along to an exit if I can.

That’s a good point. I’m sometimes a little blind to the safety considerations women deal with every day. But If I started to pull over and the tailgater pulled in behind me, I would definitely take off.

I would do the same. She was just in disbelief I’d pull over at all. I kinda understand after she explained it.

Yesssssssssss!

Right? One big reason for me, as the guy that tends to be around the fastest speed but not being a dick about it, is that I have learned that cops won’t pull me over until I hit 15mph over the limit. Maybe that’s not fair, but I tend to think “as fast as the law will allow” to paraphrase Dukes of Hazzard is essentially telling me what the real speed limit is. (George Carlin also had a bit on this.) So I’m pretty much trying to cruise at 83 in normal loose traffic. So, the people I want to kick in the Jimson weed are:

  1. The regulators who decided trucks should have a 65mph governor on them. It’s a constant thing, a truck going 65.2 passing a truck going 64.9. There are a lot better ways to audit your drivers’ speed that doesn’t jam the interstate for 3 minutes.
  2. If you use cruise control I always think of it as having moral superiority. If I’m set at 83, and granted that really means 82-84, cruise control isn’t perfect but it’s pretty darned good these days, then either pass me at a reasonable rate or don’t. The kicker is don’t feel like me going 83 in the right lane means that your monkey brain wants to surpass me at 87, then as soon as it settles down you slip back to 77 where you really want to drive. Know your speed, try to maintain it, don’t be a dick.

But then also, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE LEFT LANE. It’s for passing. It’s not the “fast lane” and on a 3+ lane highway the middle lane isn’t the “cruising lane.” The far right lane is where you should be unless you are passing, and if you’re passing and there are cars stacking up behind you, pass FASTER. Get the fuck out of the way, safely and in a friendly manner, but move right. Even when there’s not a car around you get used to moving right, which I guess is my contradiction to always using your signal even if there are no cars around you. Teach yourself better behavior even when you don’t need to.

The tricky part here in Seattle is that there are a lot of places where you either exit or merge in from the left side. The real fast lane here is the second lane from the left.

…fast being a relative term, since traffic rarely allows me to even approach the speed limit.

I once spent a 2 hour business trip driving with a coworker who kept scolding me for driving on the left. I get the sentiment, but I’ve been driving SoCal freeways during rush hour for 15 years. I know when to be where and often my reason is “that upcoming freeway interchange is about to dump a bunch of traffic into those lanes” or “the exit I need is on the left” or just “I have a feel for how traffic flows here because I’ve driven it hundreds of times.”

Daytime Running Lights were a goddamn mistake, and I’m willing to die on that hill. Drove behind an SUV a few days ago that was totally dark in the rear; you could barely see him in the dark. Their headlights were on, though. We got off at the same exit and I pulled up next to him at a light and got his attention. He rolled down his window and I told him that he was running with his daytime lights on and that his rear lights were out the entire time he was on I5.

That’s not the first time I’ve had to do that.

Few drivers in Seattle seem to understand that the highway on ramp is for accelerating to highway speed for safe merging. They’re not just annoying idiots—they’re safety hazards.


I disagree about the left lane being exclusively for passing. It’s also for capacity in cities. The left lane is only for passing when you’re on a 2 lane highway in the middle of nowhere.

That’s my strategy too. Either listen to an audiobook or a podcast. Then when traffic gets bad, I just think of it as “well I’ll get through an extra chapter” instead of letting myself get steamed over how blocked up the traffic is.

The entirety of driving in the left lane can be summed up as: Is there a car behind you? Then get out of the left lane if it currently is possible (i.e. you’re not passing or following yet another slow car in the left lane waiting to get around them.) Your rear view mirror will tell you the level of wrong you’re being.

Ugh yeah, I forgot about those until I got behind a semi on the on-ramp this morning. Not upset at the semi obviously but it did remind me of all those wonderful people who think an on-ramp is the same as a 35 in a light business district.

Except all those extra lanes just end up making traffic worse, maybe counterintuitively. Use the left lane for its intended - and in many cases, legally recognized - purpose, lower capacity, lower demand. Happier drivers!

I don’t mind if people sit in the left lane if they are moving faster than everyone else. When I am in the left lane if someone comes up behind me going faster, I just speed up until I can get over into the right lane.

Honestly, for long road trips on the freeway, I have taken to setting cruise at 2-3 mph over the speed limit and sitting on the right line, occasionally passing a semi when needed. Way less stressful.

That’s me, except for 12-13mph over, so I’m usually among the fastest on the road. But as we all realize, this applies to broader stretches of interstate that aren’t jammed, I take all the points about left exits and bumper to bumper, but I also think we’re all wizened enough to know that there are scenarios out of scope for the rants.

I did get to see a woman almost drive directly into a rail today. It’s a long S-curve on ramp and, if I had to guess, she got distracted by her phone and just . . . stopped turning. She managed to yank it to the right about five feet short of head-on, fishtailed, and managed to ride out the slide. Hope that notification was worth it!

Right about here:

Sharper than it looks.