Lane Courtesy in Los Angeles

Guest Blog NMA Member Michael Jabbra

Lane courtesy means to drive always in the right lane unless you are passing someone slower. In some countries, such as Germany, people practice this simple, helpful idea. Sadly, this is not true in Los Angeles.

Of course, lane courtesy makes no sense during rush hour in Los Angeles, when all freeway lanes, including the carpool lanes, are crawling along equally slowly. (Toll lanes are another matter; they’re usually clear because few people wish to pay for the tolls.)

However, there are times when the freeways are wide open and lane courtesy becomes important. The point of the freeway is to get to your destination as quickly as you can without throwing safety completely out the window. Steam comes out of my ears when I’m closing in from behind on someone drifting along in the left lane.

What’s your excuse? Texting or talking on the phone? Sorry, the call probably isn’t that important – and if it is, do the rest of us a favor and pull over! Then you can talk to your heart’s content! Some of us are old enough to remember the days before cellphones, when you were out of touch while driving. (There’s a certain joy to turning off your phone and being unreachable – try it sometime!)

What’s another excuse? You say you’re not in a hurry? News flash – some of us are! Some of us must get to work, or have an appointment, or have other reasons to hurry – or we just want to enjoy speed for its own sake! If you want to loaf along at 55 mph while the rest of us are flashing by at 75 mph, then move over to the truck lanes!

You say it’s safer or more economical to drive more slowly? Nuts! Don’t clog the left lanes just to show us how environmentally virtuous you are. Willfully driving slower than the flow of traffic is unsafe. If the rest of us want to burn gasoline faster, either because we’re in a hurry or because we want to fly, that’s our business. Get in the right lanes and be virtuous by yourself.

If you’re not comfortable with driving fast, then the freeways are not for you! Take the surface streets – there are lots of nice traffic calming measures such as stop signs, speed bumps, traffic lights, etc. to keep everybody poking along at the pace you like. Leave the wide open freeways to those of us who can handle them!

Trucks should not be in the left lanes. They should be in the far-right lane, or the lane to the immediate left of that one. Stay out of the left lanes; they’re for those of us who can drive fast. We know that the vehicle code, your employers, and the laws of physics compel you to drive slower than we do. Just don’t entangle us in your slow driving.

Try some lane courtesy – or get off the freeway.

There are two kinds of people on the road: drifters and drivers. Guess which one I am?

New NMA member Michael Jabbra lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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