O Californians, how you drive... me insane

April 14, 2012

An Open Letter to my west coast friends on the open road:

Dear California Drivers,

I know this is going to be a hard, but you are going to have to break yourself away from your unhealthy obsession with the left-hand lane.  When driving down a freeway with more than one lane in any direction, it is common courtesy that the left lane is for passing.  Yes, I said it, PASSING.  As in, NOT MEANDERING DOWN INDEFINITELY.

You see, common driving courtesy says that you should drive in the right-hand lane, even if you are going the speed limit.  And then, when you come upon another vehicle that is travelling at a slower speed than yourself, you move over into the left-hand lane.  You pass the slower vehicle.  You then get back in the right-hand lane.

Here is a list of things you really should not do in the left-hand lane:
* Drive slower than the speed limit
* Drive the speed limit and refuse to move over to the right-hand lane when a car comes up behind you who is obviously going much faster than you are
* Continue to drive in the left-hand lane while travelling at roughly the same speed as the semi-truck in the lane next to you, effectively blocking all faster traffic from passing you
* Drive in the left-hand lane when there is no one on the roadway except you.  Because eventually some car will come up behind you and you will refuse to get over or remain in blissful ignorance of common driving courtesy and they will be forced to pass you on the right.

I do a lot of driving in a lot of other states and I must say, although there are the occasional offenders in other states, in California it is an epidemic.  It's bad enough that they drive in the left lane just for kicks, and it's worse when they refuse to move over for the cars behind them.  Most other drivers look in their mirrors and think, gee, this driver is travelling at a faster speed than me.  Let me just pop on over to the right-hand lane for a bit so he can go about his business and drive on past me.  Not in California, oh no.  They think,  well, I am travelling the speed limit so I have every right to be in the left-hand lane, who cares about common courtesy.

And while I'm at it, can I just add one thing?  When it rains, or snows, or is foggy, or does something other than be sunny and 70 degrees, DRIVING SLOWLY WITH YOUR HAZARD LIGHTS ON IS NOT A SOLUTION.  Unless you are announcing to everyone on the road that you, in fact, and not the weather, are the real hazard on the road.

Driving slowly in inclement weather?  OK, fine.  Driving slowly with your hazard lights on?  Not OK.  Driving slowly with your hazard lights on in the left hand lane?  DEFINITELY NOT OK.  And yet you, California drivers, have been observed by yours truly doing all of the above on numerous different occasions.

Thank you for your time.

Very Sincerely,


** Side note: the fact that I just signed up for my online defensive driving course to defer a speeding ticket has absolutely NO BEARING whatsoever on this letter.**

EDIT:  Actually, it does have some bearing - in my favor.  Below is an excerpt from my class:

Driving slowly in the left lane: If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let them by. You may be "in the right" because you are traveling at the speed limit, but you may also be putting yourself in danger by making drivers behind you angry. In many states and provinces the law requires you to travel in the right lane and use the far left lane only for passing. Besides, it is simple courtesy to move over and let other drivers by.