I thought, how quaint. Im one of those drivers who actually believes that people should stay right unless theyre 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.
We could assume that these people are oblivious to the fact that other motorists have places to be and schedules to keep. Im convinced that most fall into this category. Ive 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 todays 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 cant ride transit today to show the oil companies whos boss, at least get out of the way.
What piqued my interest in the announcement was the group. Id never heard of the National Motorists Association, but that doesnt mean they arent a force to be reckoned with. The Wisconsin-based groups 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 groups 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 dont 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 NMAs 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 ones 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, its 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 Californias lane
courtesy law. The law requires slower traffic to keep right. This
law was designed to benefit motorists, but its almost never
enforced, said Jim Thomas, one of the NMAs California
Representatives. Lane courtesy is worth as much attention as other
traffic laws, if not more.