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pretty please, move the %#^* out of my way

By enelson
Thursday, June 8th, 2006 at 1:38 pm in driving, Freeways, Safety.

“Moving over or yielding to faster traffic is an important, but often forgotten, concept,” says the National Motorists Association, which has consequently designated June to be Lane Courtesy Month.

I thought, how quaint. I’m one of those drivers who actually believes that people should stay right unless they’re passing. I try to observe this rule, too, but oftentimes that means getting stuck behind someone who lingers the fast lane for no apparent reason.
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We could assume that these people are oblivious to the fact that other motorists have places to be and schedules to keep. I’m convinced that most fall into this category. I’ve also come to believe that a few of these folks believe they are doing society a favor by impeding those who drive too fast, be that over the speed limit or whatever threshold the moving roadblock believes is prudent.

But there it is. Lane Courtesy Month. Like today’s transit operator-inspired “Dump the Pump Day,” an attempt to get people to change their habits by drumming up peer pressure, ala the Great American Smokeout. So please, if you can’t ride transit today to show the oil companies who’s boss, at least get out of the way.

What piqued my interest in the announcement was the group. I’d never heard of the National Motorists Association, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a force to be reckoned with. The Wisconsin-based group’s spokesman, Eric Skrum, was quoted in an interesting Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about so-called black boxes in new cars, and Skrum was there with a handy quote about the privacy and insurance issues posed by the relatively unknown devices.

Even more fascinating is the group’s Website, which rails against other affronts to motorists everywhere. Those include speed limits, which should be very close to however fast people can drive, Breathalyzers, which don’t accurately measure alcohol impairment, and the “hypothetical benefits of airbags:

“The whole airbag campaign looks more like a government/industry conspiracy to reduce the population, particularly old people, small women, and children,” writes the anonymous author of a “Steal This” editorial, which members are encouraged to add their own touches to and send out at letters-to-the-editor or other influential forums.

Back on Earth, many motorists might find common cause with the NMA’s opposition to cell-phone legislation like the bill that currently seeks to outlaw hand-held mobile phones from California vehicles.

Still, keeping right for the sake of one’s fellow motorists is a lovely idea, like greeting passersby with a smile and a “good day,” or giving up your seat to the elderly and disabled on a crowded BART car.

So take a hint from the NMA:

Practicing Lane Courtesy has many benefits. First of all, lane
courtesy makes our roads safer. The simple act of moving over for
faster traffic smoothes the flow of traffic, which reduces
congestion, tailgating, dangerous passes, and erratic speed

Lane courtesy also reduces “road rage.” The failure of slower
traffic to yield can make driving irritating. By practicing lane
courtesy, our time behind the wheel becomes more enjoyable and
motorists are less likely to engage in aggressive behaviors brought
on by frustration.

Given the high price of gas, it’s also worth mentioning that lane
courtesy can improve gas mileage. Vehicles consume more fuel when
they accelerate than when they maintain a consistent speed. When
motorists have to brake and maneuver around a driver blocking the
left lane, they waste time, gas, and money!

Each year, billions of dollars are spent to enforce speed limits and
seatbelt laws, but very few people even know about California’s lane
courtesy law. The law requires slower traffic to keep right. “This
law was designed to benefit motorists, but it’s almost never
enforced,” said Jim Thomas, one of the NMA’s California
Representatives. “Lane courtesy is worth as much attention as other
traffic laws, if not more.”

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One Response to “pretty please, move the %#^* out of my way”

  1. » Blog Archive » "Lane Courtesy"—what a concept Says:

    […] Via The Capricious Commuter: The National Motorists Association has declared June National Lane Courtesy Month. I’ve written about how Minnesotans don’t relinquish the left lane to people who come up behind them who are driving faster than they are. (Californians are even worse, and Wisconsinites are completely unpredictable.) So here it is: a group that believes, “The lane courtesy ethic must be reinvigorated, promoted, and recognized for the contribution it can make toward safer, faster and more enjoyable travel.” Yes! (I’m not sure I agree with everything they stand for, but I’m certainly in favor of more “driver-to-driver courtesy.”) […]

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