The Safety-Based Case Against Left Lane Squatters - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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The Safety-Based Case Against Left Lane Squatters



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If you’re a motorcyclist, odds are that you aren’t one of those car drivers that squats in the left lane plodding along exactly at the speed limit while everyone else stacks up behind you with their blood pressure nearing the bursting point. Then again, maybe you are one of those mouth-breathers who believes it is their God-given right to drive in whatever lane they want, no matter who it inconveniences. (If you are, we’ve got a special place in Hell carved out for you to spend all of eternity listening to the Barney Song turned up to 11.)

While we’ve all experienced the aggravation of the left lane squatter, it turns out that slowing down traffic in the left lane is also a safety hazard because it forces faster drivers to weave back and forth between lanes, which can cause a cascading wave of deceleration in the right lane that further slows and stacks up traffic. Oh yeah, it increases the odds of an accident, too.

So, next time you see some doofus online, bloviating about how safe he is going the speed limit in the left lane instead of sticking to the right unless he’s passing, point him in the direction of the video below. While it probably won’t change the blowhard’s behavior, you might just inform some less experienced driver, like the narrator in the video, about proper lane discipline.
Read more about The Safety-Based Case Against Left Lane Squatters at Motorcycle.com.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-29-2016, 09:10 PM
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I remember reading a letter in the San Diego newspaper from a California Highway Patrol district supervisor a few years ago that anyone who was blocking following traffic in the left lane would be given a ticket for obstructing traffic, even though they were driving at the speed limit.

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-30-2016, 08:29 AM
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Then why have speed limits? Problem comes with selective enforcement of speed laws. Drive with traffic flow above speed limit, and get pulled over because you are from out of state. It is not a defense that you were driving with the traffic flow, you are exceeding the speed limit and will be fined. Some parts of the country are known for this type of enforcement.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-30-2016, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by dpetrick View Post
Then why have speed limits? Problem comes with selective enforcement of speed laws. Drive with traffic flow above speed limit, and get pulled over because you are from out of state. It is not a defense that you were driving with the traffic flow, you are exceeding the speed limit and will be fined. Some parts of the country are known for this type of enforcement.
In both California and Oregon especially on multilane highways the speed limits often are not strictly enforced, especially in good weather. Typically the state police and highway patrol will allow drivers an additional 4-5 mph as long as they are driving safely. The problem with left lane hoggers driving at the posted speed limit is that they cause backups behind them, which increases the possibility for accidents especially as drivers who wish to go a couple of miles per hour faster jockey to try to get around the lane hogger. The basic rule is, drive to the right except to pass, but of course that often is ignored.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-30-2016, 12:52 PM
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"The basic rule is, drive to the right except to pass, but of course that often is ignored." In Ohio and many other states, signs have been installed stating "KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS" offering all but the most ignorant (whom shouldn't be on the road in any form) zero ambiguity as to which lane to stay in (or out of). My favorite is the semi driver averaging 0.25mph faster than the semi driver they're trying to overtake, attempting a pass while approaching a hill only to loose ground (all at less than the speed limit & in the passing lane) and have to let the other semi pass them, allow for a safe following distance, then pull back into the slow lane.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-30-2016, 02:56 PM
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dpetrick asks a good question. "Then why do we have speed limits?"

The answer really has two answers.

First is why "we the people" allow speed limits; and that's driver safety.
No speed limit may work on the autobahn; but in the U.S. it would be abused and it would cause a significant increase in auto accidents & deaths.

Second is why are they set where they are; and that's to create a large pool of lawbreakers. Providing revenue to local governments and probable cause to law enforcement.
In moderate traffic 'not a jam' the flow of traffic is usually 10 to 15 mph above posted speeds with outliers exceeding 20mph above.
This 'conditions' drivers to accept the risk of being ticketed & fined as a normal part of being mobile.
It also provides a constitutional means of contact for law enforcement to evaluate if there is probable cause to suspect the average citizen of criminal behavior.

Ideally speed limits would be set based on what is safe and laws would be enforced in a consistent uniform manner. But, that ain't the world we live in. So, if you're not passing someone and the lane to your right is clear; move over.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-06-2016, 12:52 AM
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IMO, all lanes are equally subjugated to traffic laws. A person in the right hand lane has just as much of an opportunity to speed -and be ticketed for it- as someone in the left hand lane. Additionally, assuming the left lane is the "fast lane" is just that, an assumption. Nowhere does any law indicate that it's "legal" to drive above the posted speed limit in the left lane (or any lane). IMO, if a person's vehicle is incapable of maintaining the legal speed limit, then they should use the right lane as much as possible; otherwise, any lane is free game. Kansas has an actual law that prohibits using the left lane except to pass. However, it is widely unclear when and where this law is active. I would "assume" that law is active outside city limits on multi-lane roads.

As an ex-truck driver, my perspective on lane usage might be slightly different than others. In larger cities which utilize multi-lane roads, the furthest left lane is usually designed for drivers who are simply passing through the city and do not plan to stop. Additionally, left lane usage helps avoid on on/off ramp [email protected]#ks. I use the left lane alot in my city just to avoid the on/off ramp traffic. But ultimately, it really doesn't matter which lane I use, I am never going fast enough for the lead foot behind me which leads me to my final point. Multi-lane roads are enablers for speeders. Don't want to hang behind someone going the speed limit? Just move to another lane and stomp the gas. They don't care what the speed limit is, the driver just wants to get ahead of the person they were behind. It's like the highways in my area are freakin' race tracks. Seems almost everybody is in a hurry around here. They don't care if they advance one car before their exit. They gotta get ahead. Some folks even go as far as exiting from the left lane cutting across two lanes of traffic and taking the shoulder just to get to where they want to go.

IMHO, the current train of thought about the left lane is asinine. IF everybody drove the posted speed limit, there wouldn't be a need to pass; thus, there wouldn't be a need for the left lane, except to pass under limited conditions. Honestly though, if DOT really wanted to enforce speed limits, none of our vehicles would have the capacity to go above them, ever.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-06-2016, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyriderguy View Post
IMO, all lanes are equally subjugated to traffic laws. A person in the right hand lane has just as much of an opportunity to speed -and be ticketed for it- as someone in the left hand lane. Additionally, assuming the left lane is the "fast lane" is just that, an assumption. Nowhere does any law indicate that it's "legal" to drive above the posted speed limit in the left lane (or any lane). IMO, if a person's vehicle is incapable of maintaining the legal speed limit, then they should use the right lane as much as possible; otherwise, any lane is free game. Kansas has an actual law that prohibits using the left lane except to pass. However, it is widely unclear when and where this law is active. I would "assume" that law is active outside city limits on multi-lane roads.

As an ex-truck driver, my perspective on lane usage might be slightly different than others. In larger cities which utilize multi-lane roads, the furthest left lane is usually designed for drivers who are simply passing through the city and do not plan to stop. Additionally, left lane usage helps avoid on on/off ramp [email protected]#ks. I use the left lane alot in my city just to avoid the on/off ramp traffic. But ultimately, it really doesn't matter which lane I use, I am never going fast enough for the lead foot behind me which leads me to my final point. Multi-lane roads are enablers for speeders. Don't want to hang behind someone going the speed limit? Just move to another lane and stomp the gas. They don't care what the speed limit is, the driver just wants to get ahead of the person they were behind. It's like the highways in my area are freakin' race tracks. Seems almost everybody is in a hurry around here. They don't care if they advance one car before their exit. They gotta get ahead. Some folks even go as far as exiting from the left lane cutting across two lanes of traffic and taking the shoulder just to get to where they want to go.

IMHO, the current train of thought about the left lane is asinine. IF everybody drove the posted speed limit, there wouldn't be a need to pass; thus, there wouldn't be a need for the left lane, except to pass under limited conditions. Honestly though, if DOT really wanted to enforce speed limits, none of our vehicles would have the capacity to go above them, ever.

Not criticizing your opinion; there are definitely too many erratic speeders on the roads.

But, I do think courtesy is something that should be added to the conversation. And really for all driving situations not just left lane campers/speeders.

If you're in the left lane with someone behind you that wants to go faster and it's safe and reasonably convenient to move right; do so.
It's inconsiderate to do otherwise.

Consideration applies to the person wanting to go faster too. Don't run right up on someones bumper like it's their 'obligation' to move immediately; because it isn't.
If you're passing cars to your right 'at more than a couple miles an hour' sit tight and wait.

Impeding the flow of traffic doesn't mean; get out of the way of a single driver wanting to break the land speed record. Traffic is multiple cars and if someone is passing a group of cars on the right; they're not impeding.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-06-2016, 08:14 AM
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One issue with the speed limit argument is this; there's a cascading effect. If you're doing 70mph, 5 or 6 cars behind you may be doing 63mph. Microadjustments, speeding up and slowing down, adjusting following distance, and changing lanes slows everyone down.

A recent study actually found that we could eliminate rush hour traffic more than half the time if we didn't change lanes too much. Many traffic jams, as it turned out, are just caused by the domino effect of people changing lanes constantly. When people are weaving around in traffic, it causes a ripple effect through traffic.

The left lane is for passing other vehicles; the right lane is for driving. While we're at it, make sure you're merging like a 'zipper' onto the highway. You shouldn't be driving alongside cars that are merging. Like a zipper, it should be left-right-left-right. That might mean, while driving in the right lane, you may have to slow down a bit to let a car that's ahead of you merge slowly, or that the car merging needs to slow just a bit to filter in behind you; depending on who is ahead of who. Another great annoyance of mine is people who drone in the right lane with the cruise control on, completely ignoring oncoming traffic. Especially big trucks who are difficult to get around when merging. Sometimes a small adjustment in speed can be the difference between the merging traffic having to dart around, accelerate hard, or brake hard; and both parties being able to make small adjustments to merge safely and simply.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 09-06-2016, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans5.8 View Post
One issue with the speed limit argument is this; there's a cascading effect. If you're doing 70mph, 5 or 6 cars behind you may be doing 63mph. Microadjustments, speeding up and slowing down, adjusting following distance, and changing lanes slows everyone down.

A recent study actually found that we could eliminate rush hour traffic more than half the time if we didn't change lanes too much. Many traffic jams, as it turned out, are just caused by the domino effect of people changing lanes constantly. When people are weaving around in traffic, it causes a ripple effect through traffic.

The left lane is for passing other vehicles; the right lane is for driving. While we're at it, make sure you're merging like a 'zipper' onto the highway. You shouldn't be driving alongside cars that are merging. Like a zipper, it should be left-right-left-right. That might mean, while driving in the right lane, you may have to slow down a bit to let a car that's ahead of you merge slowly, or that the car merging needs to slow just a bit to filter in behind you; depending on who is ahead of who. Another great annoyance of mine is people who drone in the right lane with the cruise control on, completely ignoring oncoming traffic. Especially big trucks who are difficult to get around when merging. Sometimes a small adjustment in speed can be the difference between the merging traffic having to dart around, accelerate hard, or brake hard; and both parties being able to make small adjustments to merge safely and simply.
In any kind of traffic or short on ramps; you're 100% right.
I'm not usually in the right lane so I guess there could be a point there about always adjusting speed for mergers or at least expecting to make speed changes based on the entry/exit of other drivers.

But, a couple of years ago I was in the left lane with my cruise set. There was very light traffic but driving in the right lane would have meant switching lanes a couple of times a minute.
Anyway, there was a place where the highway I was on and another highway crossed. The attributes of the area caused the civil engineers to create a left hand merge lane; they did at least make it LONG.

As I said traffic was light. There was 100 yrds or more between cars in the left lane.
A woman merging from the other highway ends up directly to my left with her blinker on. She drives the same speed as me for about half a mile. 30 seconds or so. Then as the merge lane runs out she starts honking and flipping me the bird. She finally hits the gas hard, drives on the shoulder, and pulls in front of me.

The point being; when merging into open traffic with plenty of time, it should be treated as any other lane change.
Identify the open spot you want to occupy, indicate your intentions, adjust speed, move smoothly & quickly into position, re-adjust speed to the flow of traffic.

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