Amy's Landscape

Views from the Florida Landscape

Politics of the Left Lane

“WHY are you hanging out in the left lane?!”, I queried my son while zooming down the interstate.  “I’m not in anybody’s way, I’m going the speed limit, what’s the problem?”

For his age group, it’s not a problem.  But for mine, it’s a big problem.  In my 1975 Driver’s Education class, Coach Eddie always stressed, “Slower traffic keeps right; get out of the left lane!”.  In fact from time to time you can still see those pesky signs on the highway, admonishing drivers “Slower Traffic Keep Right.”

I don’t think anyone even knows what that means anymore.  Because for some reason, Driver’s Education Class fell out of favor somewhere between the time I was a teen and my kids reached that epoch.  In fact it’s optional in some states now.

For my three teenagers, it was an extra class they could take if we wanted our insurance rates to be lowered, and we did, so they took it.

But in our daily conversations about what they’d learned in class, I was amazed to find that “Slower Traffic Keep Right” had been dropped from the “pertinent information” list.  It just wasn’t taught to them in class.  So I did my job as parent and taught it to them myself.

Maybe this really has nothing to do with age, since people of every stripe seem to be hanging out in the left lane.  Maybe it’s the attitude of entitlement we have going on in America, that if I want it it’s mine, and anyway I was here first  so I own this lane, no matter what lane it is.

This doesn’t seem like a big deal but people are dying over this little infraction and attitude.  As I travel the interstate several times a week I’m astounded to watch a certain  game play out.

There’s the oblivious one, plodding along in the left lane, on or about the speed limit, but there are two others doing the same thing, abreast of them in the lanes to the right.  A big SUV comes flying up on the rear of this scene and moves up on the one in the far left lane, expecting this turtle to get the message.  But they don’t, or they don’t care.

Anger burns, tempers flare, and traffic begins to pile up.  Eventually one of the three cloggers pulls back or forward just enough for everyone to begin rushing through the gap, swerving around the turtle in the far left lane, horns blaring, fingers raised.

Sometimes, just to teach them a little lesson, one of the more aggressive drivers will pull around and in front of the left lane turtle and slam on the brakes.  And sometimes the turtle wakes up enough to move over, or to get angry and the game escalates.

Since record numbers of us here in the Great State of Florida have our Concealed Weapons Permit, weapons are sometimes brandished, threats are made, shots are fired and people are killed.  It’s insane how quickly this scene can advance from simple selfishness to someone dying.

I try to avoid all this drama by staying in the far right lane, at or  slightly above the speed limit so as not to be in anyone’s way.  But since nobody seems to know the far left lane is the passing lane, I sometimes get tailgaters behind me as if I should move over!  And sometimes, just for peace sake, I do, even when I feel like jamming on the brakes to teach THEM a little lesson!

What’s the answer to this?  Maybe we could leave home 5 minutes earlier so we’re not in such a rush and so easily angered by people’s behaviors.  Maybe we can treat people will a little more grace, a little more civility and courtesy, even if they are an oblivious dope, or ignorant of the law.  Maybe, and this is a provocative thought,  we should all start paying a little more attention to DRIVING while driving.

And maybe we could spread the word, across this wonderful wide open country, along our tree-lined boulevards, among our jam-packed freeways, interstates, pikeways and highways,  with our own kids, spouses, and friends: “Slower Traffic Keep Right”!!!

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November 2, 2011 Posted by | Florida Outdoors, God in the everyday, On The Road, Parenting | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment