You know what they say about the similarity of making laws and making sausage: They both involve pork, or something. I don’t know.
The point is, something done at the state Capitol last week sounded worthwhile. A freshman representative introduced a bill that would impose fines for, get this, blocking the passing lane on multilane roads.
Rep. Bill Hitchens introduced House Bill 459, which would, in the words of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “make it illegal to drive in the left lane except for overtaking and passing another vehicle.”
Never mind that it is already illegal to block the left lane. That’s been true for years in a lot of places.
(I can remember roadside signs from 40 years ago in Central America: Mantenga la derecha excepto al pasar. That meant not only, “Watch out for potholes that will, yes, destroy another ball joint on your Volkswagen Beetle and the road department will disavow all blame,” but also, and more to the point today: “Keep right except when passing.”)
We all know that letting faster vehicles pass us is the legal and commonsense thing to do. Driving in the fast lane at the same pace as right-lane traffic, or slower, is just plain stupid. The bill would fine stupidity.
Stupidity, of course, doesn’t keep people off the highways. We see that every day. Still, we don’t need to phone in a big donation to the Great American Stupidity Telethon every time we get on the road.
Impeding the flow of traffic is the surest way to spark road rage. We’ve all seen what happens when the actions of one driver cause a chain reaction of unsafe behavior from other motorists.
Hitchens, a former commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, probably has seen enough accidents to want to prevent a few.
Why do people block traffic flow in the passing lane? The aforementioned stupidity, for sure. Distraction by talking on the phone, texting, eating or reading a novel – of course. Selfishness; that’s a given. Getting into the left lane to turn left five miles ahead, I know for a fact.
“But I’m driving the speed limit,” the traffic blocker might say as anger builds up behind him or her on the highway.
That’s beside the point. Not everyone travels at the same speed (unless Stupid is enforcing a self-imposed speed limit at the front of a long line of cars).
I realize that my speedometer might register fast, so I add a couple of mph to my speed on highways. I’ve driven like Danica Patrick only when I was racing to the hospital a couple of times, for instance.
The thing is, we don’t know what is going on in the car next to us. By keeping right, we don’t have to question the motives of cars passing us on the left.
You can find the bill’s restrictions on the Internet. Good reading, and safe driving – though not both at the same time, of course.