Random Thoughts / Road warriors unite!
Published 2:40 pm, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Those who know me well -- well enough for me to feel free to use four letter words in front of them -- will tell you that I have a road rage problem.
I believe that the source of my anger is the powerlessness I feel when confronted by drivers who don't seem to notice that there is anyone else on the road. I can't do anything when behind a driver who doesn't use a turn signal or, even worse, uses it only as he is making the turn. I have no recourse against the woman who cuts in front of me and then drives so slowly she just makes it through the yellow light and leaves me stopped at the red. I can't punish the very important fellow who goes fast, then slow, then weaves across the lanes, all the while engaged in a very important cell phone conversation.
The only thing I can do about a driver who drives me crazy is to give him "The Look" as I pass him by. Anyone who thinks of each trip to the grocery store as a battle against the forces of vehicular evildoers knows about "The Look," the scornful glare we focus on drivers to let them know they have done wrong. It has little effect -- they don't cringe with shame or mouth "I'm sorry" upon seeing our expressions. But it makes us feel better. Except when we give "The Look" to the wrong people. Once, when I finally passed a car that had been traveling erratically in front of me, I flashed "The Look" out my window at the driver and passengers of the other car. The car happened to be filled with very young men who felt personally challenged. They lowered their windows and yelled threats at me. I immediately focused on the road in front of me and drove on, hoping the guys would decide there was little sport in challenging an older lady.
For me, driving is fraught with stress, especially when I have to deal with the driving transgression that makes me rage the most -- slow-driving left-lane-hoggers. I commute on the Parkway every day and though I only have to go a few exits, I often arrive at my destination fuming at the people who park themselves in the left lane and crawl.
The left lane, according to law and tradition, was always for those who were passing, or traveling quickly. If you wanted to move swiftly on the highway, you moved to the left lane. If you were in the left lane and someone behind you edged up on you, you moved to the right and got out of their way. It was clear which lane to choose depending on your speed of travel.
This is no longer the case. These days, everyone seems to want to be in the left lane no matter how quickly they are traveling and no matter how close another driver tailgates them. I've been perplexed as to why the slow drivers have moved to the left lane. Sometimes I think that I have imagined the law that says that the left lane is for passing or for traveling at higher speeds. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks of it as the "fast lane" anymore. Maybe others think of it as the cool lane and they all want to hang out there. This left-lane issue has increased my road rage so much, I finally decided to search for some answers.
I Googled "Left Lane Driving" and found treasure. First, I discovered that I have not imagined the law. Connecticut law says that only vehicles moving at normal speeds should travel in the left lane, and it is illegal to pass on the right. Notice it says normal, not legal. I am within my rights to fume at someone driving fifty-five miles per hour in the left hand lane despite the fact that they are traveling slower than everyone in the right hand lane. Maybe I can't be quite so righteous about being angry at someone driving sixty-five, but that's when my next discovery gave me the answers I sought.
My research offered me some logical explanations as to why so many people have appropriated the left lane. It's not just to torture me. People think it is dangerous to change lanes and they don't like to deal with people entering and exiting the highway, therefore they move to the left lane and stay there. Such reasoning doesn't excuse their behavior, but it does keep me from muttering "Why? Why? Why?"
Information is very helpful, but what made me even happier was discovering that I am not alone in obsessing about this issue. To my joy, I found many sites on the Internet with names such as "Left lane Hogs Move Over!" and "Left Lane Slowpokes Drive You Crazy?" There are others like me out there! I even found sites urging road-ragers to unite. A call to arms! Maybe, together, we can rant and rave enough to shame those misplaced left-laners into moving over. And that will be just the beginning. Next, we'll move on to getting people to use their turn signals.