June is not only the start of summer vacations and construction zones, but it is also one of the busiest driving periods of the summer. For these reasons the National Motorists Association has designated June “Lane Courtesy Month.”
We’ve all become frustrated when we happen upon a slow moving car in the left lane; it’s dangerous and disrupts the flow of traffic. Lane courtesy is simply “the practice of yielding to or moving over [to the right] for faster moving traffic.” Seems simple enough. But if that was the case, would we need to declare a Lane Courtesy Month? Lane Courtesy is something the NMA says we can all benefit from – especially those unaware they do it.
NMA blames the rise of left-lane bandits on the 55-mph National Maximum Speed Limit enacted in 1973. Previous to this law, passed to conserve fuel consumption during the fuel shortage of the early 1970s, NMA says, “…rural speed limits were more likely to reflect realistic travel speeds. That meant that slower vehicles were driving under the speed limit and had no excuse to block the progress of faster traffic.”
With the reduction of the speed limit on the nation’s highways slower drivers who had previously driven in the right lane felt they could now drive in any lane they wanted. So for more than two decades, a new generation of drivers was raised with these poor driving habits.
Fortunately the 55-mph speed limit was lifted in 1995 and many states raised their speed limits to more realistic levels, but the damage had already been done.
Or could it be just distracted driving? Are drivers doing too many things unrelated to the daily commute while behind the wheel?
Lane courtesy helps make for safer, more efficient and friendlier roads. By not obstructing faster moving vehicles traffic flows smoother, tailgating and lane hopping decreases, which leads to less congestion, reduced commute time and fewer accidents. Other benefits of lane courtesy include better fuel mileage, from more consistent speeds, and less stress and frustration leading to less road rage.
Although many states have yield-to-faster-traffic laws they are rarely enforced, which can be frustrating (and dangerous) to those of us who are traveling faster than the “safety-minded” drivers in the passing lane.
The Federal Highway Administration is also stressing the correct method of lane merging during the upcoming and inconvenient construction season. When approaching a lane closure move over and fill gaps in the open lane as soon as possible without disrupting the flow of traffic. If traffic has already slowed to stop-and-go fill up both lanes and merge every other car at the end of the closing lane. The FHA calls this the “zipper-merging” maneuver.
We’re all guilty of making excuses for our socially unacceptable behavior and left lane bandits are no different. Common, but not legitimate, excuses include: “The left lane flows smoother,” or “It’s easier to see from” and “Faster cars don’t have to move out of the right lane to pass me.” The most common excuse is “I’m driving the speed limit. I shouldn’t have to move over.”
Although we all like to make excuses the NMA says none of these are justifiable reasons for being left-lane bandits. Some people are simply unaware they are causing disruptions in traffic flow. So the question at hand is: will designating a Lane Courtesy Month get the attention of the average driver?
Source: National Motorists Association