Yielding to faster traffic is a simple concept, but it’s often forgotten. Chances are that when you’re behind the wheel, you see a bunch of people ignoring this basic driving rule, which is commonly referred to as lane courtesy.
When drivers choose to block the left lane, whether intentionally or not, they are making the roads less safe and efficient for everyone. Here are some of the benefits you and the other drivers on the road will notice if you keep the left lane open for passing:
1) You’re Less Likely To Be In An Accident
By not obstructing other drivers, traffic is able to flow more smoothly. When traffic flows smoothly, there is less tailgating, less weaving in-and-out of traffic, and therefore fewer accidents.
2) You’ll Get Better Gas Mileage
Lane courtesy promotes the smooth flow of traffic and helps drivers maintain an even pace. Vehicles use the most gas when accelerating. Less braking followed by acceleration will improve fuel economy.
3) You’ll Get To Your Destination Faster
Yielding to faster traffic reduces congestion. When traffic is flowing smoothly, highway capacity can be utilized to the fullest extent.
4) You Will Not Have To Deal With Road Rage
There’s little doubt that “left lane hogs” are a source of irritation for many drivers. The courteous act of moving to the right can eliminate driver stress and conflict.
Despite these clear benefits, some drivers still choose to deliberately block the left lane. The most common rationalization is below:
“I’m driving the speed limit and I shouldn’t have to move over for lawbreakers.”
Although it may help people feel morally superior to rationalize their behavior in this way, drivers who block the left lane are doing their fellow drivers a great disservice.
Regardless of how you feel about drivers who exceed the speed limit, it’s safer and more efficient to let the police sort out the reckless and irresponsible drivers.
There are additional reasons to always yield the left lane to faster traffic:
- Something as simple as speedometer error can result in a five-MPH or greater difference in vehicle speeds, although both read the same speed.
- The motorist seeking to pass in the left lane may be responding to a family or health emergency.
- Faster left lane vehicles may be preceding an emergency vehicle and seeking an opportunity to merge right.
The bottom line is that no valid purpose is served by blocking the left lane when other vehicles wish to pass.
The first step in improving the driving experience for everyone is to simply practice lane courtesy yourself.
Achieving a high degree of lane courtesy on America’s highways will require a commitment to education, public relations, and a more enlightened approach to traffic management.
State and Federal agencies have invested billions of dollars in public relations campaigns promoting traffic law compliance, seatbelt usage, construction zone safety, and anti-drinking and driving messages, but lane courtesy has been largely ignored.
A small investment to promote lane courtesy would pay major dividends. Add in an educational component for beginning drivers and reminders for older drivers and the benefits would be immediate.