Volume II, Issue 10, Page 6

Pulling Over For The Greater Good

Cooperate, don’t compete, with the other drivers on the road

10/15/07

On one of the message boards where I spend too much of my time, a recent thread discussed the notion of “brake-checking,” where one hits the brakes hard in an effort to get a tailgater to be no longer.  Others chimed in about how they slow down (for safety... uh right), or use their windshield washers to sprinkle the car behind, and even some who sped up to increase the gap behind them. 

All of the above “techniques” have been done to me on the highway, instead of the one thing that will reduce tailgating the most: move over and let me by.  Why do people (I’m talking about highway driving here … not city driving) believe they are entitled to drive in the left lane without regard to other drivers that wish to drive faster? 

Are they unaware they are clogging the highway?  Have they just not noticed that there is a vehicle behind them wanting to go faster?  I don’t think so, because I can’t recall a time when a cop car had to wait very long for the vehicle to move over. 

Are they anticipating a left lane exit ahead?  Occasionally, I guess.  Sometimes there are left lane exits, and some drivers believe you just can’t get into the proper lane too soon.  I once followed a car for 20 miles in Ohio (I was hauling a 28-foot trailer so a right lane pass was difficult), that finally took a left lane exit, letting me and 7 other cars and their agitated drivers by. 

Or do they believe they are just entitled to drive in the left lane as long as they want, never mind the signs saying “Slower Traffic Keep Right”?   Maybe they just don’t believe that they are “slower traffic.”  A recent study suggested that 80 percent of Americans believe they are above-average drivers.  Perhaps, then, above-average drivers can hardly be “slower traffic.”  

Some, I’m sure, believe they are doing their part to make highways safer by keeping speeds down.  After all, we’ve been told for decades that speed kills. 

My take on the matter is that slow drivers in the fast lane is the main cause of dangerous, aggressive driving.  Faced with cars in the fast lane, and low expectations of them moving out of the way any time soon, many young drivers weave through traffic in an effort to drive faster.  Imagine instead, if their expectation was that the cars ahead of them would move right, and let them go by, enabling them to drive faster.  I’m certain the rates of road rage and aggressive driving would drop. 

Cooperative driving is more than taking turns at the 4-way stop sign, letting other cars merge into your lane, and letting cars reverse out of their parking spaces.  Cooperative driving also includes letting faster cars go by to keep our highways safer and more efficient.  

The next time you consider brake-checking some little winged Honda stuck on your tail, remember that the best way to get that car out of your life is to let him by.  And who knows?  Maybe that speeding dude will get the ticket once destined for you by being ahead of you over the next rise.
 









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