October 8, 2012

Slower Traffic Keep Right on Driving in the Left Lane

I recently got back from France (a trip I plan to share a little about soon) where I was struck by how well people stick to the left-lane-is-just-for-passing rule. Having just driven 12 hours for something else this weekend, on highways both crowded and uncrowded, I’m now just kind of angry. It seems that it’s a point of pride to stay in the left lane (hell, I must be going faster than someone!) and almost never was I able to convince anyone to move to the right (I tried gentle creeping, tailing, light-flashing, and signalling). I now think that I’m generally better off staying in the right lane, where I’m only occasionally forced to pass someone in the traditional manner.

First of all, why do you think there’s a difference (or do you think there’s a difference)?

Secondly, how could the culture be changed? It seems that until tickets for violating the slower-traffic-keep-right rule are as easily given out and as profitable as speeding tickets, it’s not going to be enforced by police (nor do I think it should be, really).


  1. Joel Bernstein on October 8th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve been told by German friends that the faster-on-the-left rule is actually enforced by police. Not sure about France.

  2. Sheila Ryan on October 8th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    The mind-set of those who use the left lane for creeping is a never-ending mystery to me.

  3. Sheila Ryan on October 8th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Left-lane creepers are probably stoned.

  4. Michael Grant Smith on October 8th, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    This is America. Our mountains are tall, our highways are long, and our buffets are wide.

    We talk big, eat big, and drive big. I can steer this Buick Tugboat with my knees while I check my voice mail and finish my milkshake.

    Yosemite Sam says “back off!”.

    Lane ownership.

  5. Doc on October 8th, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Joel’s right, the polizei always enforced the faster-on-the-left rule with hefty fines. Thought it had to do with those portions of the autobahn where no speed limit was enforced; dawdling Smart cars vs Merces S-classes = disaster.

  6. Sheila Ryan on October 8th, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I knew a girl knew a guy who had Yosemite Sam tattooed on his ass. And captioned, “Back off!” I’m thinking the dude must have had issues.

  7. Sheila Ryan on October 9th, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Doc, I dream of driving on the stretches of the autobahn where it’s the Wild West, so to speak.

  8. Jason Heiss on November 19th, 2012 at 11:22 am

    In my younger days I was full of righteousness and tried all of the methods you mention to encourage sloths out of the left lane. I eventually realized that it almost never works, and is somewhat dangerous to boot. So now I drive as far right as is reasonable, and don’t worry if I happen to pass someone on the right because they’re slothing it up in the left lane.