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Thread: Left to Pass... Please!

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Left to Pass... Please!

    Lane courtesy - moving over to allow faster-moving traffic to get by - is a wonderful concept. But I'd take it a step farther: If you're not passing, you should not be in the left lane at all.



    That, at any rate, is the way it's done in Germany - and for good reason. That reason being something called closing speed. If a Porsche turbo doing 140 comes up on a Fiat doing 80, the Porsche either better have excellent brakes (and its driver superior reflexes) or the Fiat driver had better notice the headlights getting much larger, much faster in his rearview - and get the hell out of the way in time.


    To avoid such dangerous conflicts, German drivers are taught to use the passing lane only to pass - and not to set the cruise control and zone out, like so many American drivers unfortunately do.


    That's why the Germans can have unlimited speed Autobahns - and why we can't.



    Or rather, don't.


    We could have them. At least, from a technical point of view.


    Our Interstate system was modeled on the German Autobahn and could safely support much higher speeds than are currently permitted. Even the national high of 80 MPH in a few areas of Texas is absurd when put into context. That context being, the designed-for speeds of the U.S. Interstate system - updated to reflect the advances in vehicle design over the past 60 years.


    The starting point is 70 MPH. That is the average, routine speed of traffic envisioned by the Interstate system's designers. Curves, lines-of-sight, merge areas and so on were laid out on that assumption. That most cars would be toodling along at about 70 MPH.


    Implicit in this is that maximum safe speeds were higher.


    Pre-PC, a "speed limit" was precisely that: The maximum safe speed for the typical driver in the typical car on a given stretch of road. A speed limit was not supposed to be synonymous with average, cruising along speeds - as they are today.


    At any rate, the point is that 60 years ago - when the typical car was a plodding behemoth with balloon whitewalls, drum brakes, a farm tractor suspension and nothing in the way of electronic safety systems - the engineers who laid out the Interstate system deemed 70 MPH average speeds well within the design parameters of the road - and of the cars of the era.



    We've only recently seen speed limits go back up to about what was recommended - and posted - 60 years ago.


    When you factor in the galloping advances in everything from tire design to high-capacity four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and passenger cabins built to withstand impacts better than the race cars of the not-to-distant past - well, 70 (even 80) seems awfully slow.


    If a 1960 Chrysler was deemed capable of safe operation at 70 then surely a 2012 Chrysler can handle 80 or 90 just as safely. Probably, in fact the 2012 Chrysler is a whole lot safer at 80 or 90 than the 1960 Chrysler was at 70. Anyone who has driven examples of both (as I have) knows this automatically. Just for some perspective, a 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT-8 can haul itself down to a complete stop from 60 mph in 120 feet. I could not dig up a stat for the 1960 Chrysler, but depend on it, that car took many more feet (yards, actually) to stop. That's if you didn't lock up the brakes - and skid into a telephone pole.



    Yet - again - cars of the mid-late '50s and '60s, which were crap compared with any modern car - including the lowliest 2012 model year economy car - were regarded as being capable of comfortably, routinely, handling 70. But we're told modern cars can't handle 80 or 90. And that even 70-ish is pushing it. (In fact, in many states, driving 80 MPH or faster is statutory "reckless driving." Really.)


    Well, actually, it's modern drivers that can't handle 80 or 90.


    Modern drivers who don't use their mirrors - or do, but just don't care (and absolutely won't move over). Who consider it their American Idol watching, Football-worshipping, god-given right to park their car in the left lane, set the cruise control at precisely the posted speed limit - and ignore whatever's going on behind them.


    Thus, we have the problem of speed variance.


    It's not so much that some cars are traveling at higher rates of speed; that isn't a problem if people maintain lane discipline - and pay attention.

    If slower-moving drivers scan their mirrors and anticipate the need to move over - and do so - before the overtaking car is forced to jam on his brakes. Speed variance only becomes a problem when slower-moving drivers refuse to yield, or wait until an overtaking car is right behind them before they even put on their signal - causing faster-moving traffic to decelerate suddenly or take evasive action to get around the slow-mover.


    Cars bunching up and up jockeying for position is what creates the safety hazard; not some cars moving at a higher rate of speed than others.


    If the left lane was understood to be for passing only; if American drivers could be taught to reflexively defer to overtaking traffic rather than viewing such as a threat to their personal space and doing all in their power to impede it - well, then our speed limits could be real limits and we could drive faster, legally, in 2012 than people did back in 1960.


    Don't look for it to happen anytime soon.



    Throw it in the Woods?

  2. #2
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    Amen, brother, amen.

  3. #3
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    There is also French system, (which may also be used on the autobahns) which I quite like. A car travelling at a higher speed than the car, in the outside lane, if it wishes to overtake merely puts its offside indicator on. The car in front, irrespective of its speed, moves over. It works well in practice whether at fifty mph or a hundred and fifty mph - I can vouch for both speeds.

    Ken.
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    Some towns have laws forcing people to only use the left lane for passing - and cite people for it - which is immoral, unjust and a complete waste of a perfectly good lane of road. Roads are built with tax dollars and if I pay taxes then I'll use which ever lane I feel is appropriate.

    I am against anything that forces everyone to behave a certain way that some other group of people wants them to behave.

    How about this as a novel idea: let's just all respect each other's rights on the road and if you're going faster and have to slow down to pass on the right or the left then get over yourself. The roads weren't built just for you. You have to share. Didn't we learn that in kindergarten.

    Nobody has any more right to the road than anyone else. I have people who come flying up on my tail so fast that I coudn't move if I wanted to. Sometimes, due to traffic, it's just not possible for me to move over so the guy just stays right there on my tail, so close I can't see his front license plate.

    This is a tremendously irresponsible and dangerous move and so I simply step on the brakes and get him off my ass. I will not endanger my life and the life of my kids b/c somebody thinks the road was made for him and him alone.
    Last edited by doncoo; 10-17-2011 at 12:36 PM.

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    Minnesota epitomizes the impolite / arrogant / out to lunch driver.

    The I 694 - 494 beltway around Minneapolis: 3 to 4 lanes all going about the same speed. You can't pass, even though it's not congested.

    Once in a while, when I flash my hi-beams, a car will move right.

    It's the law in MN that you should stay right except to pass. There was a drive to have this posted on the freeways. But the State Police said it would cause drivers to be angry (the one's who wanted to pass)!

    I think it's mostly arrogance and stupidity on the part of the 'left lane loafers.'

  6. #6
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    ...... so I simply step on the brakes and get him off my ass. I will not endanger my life and the life of my kids ......

    And there we have it - the perfect oxymoron.

    Ken.
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    Ken.
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    Eric,
    your idea would make all Florida interstates flat straight and boring....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    And there we have it - the perfect oxymoron.

    Ken.
    When I say I step on my brakes, I mean I gradually slow down so the impatient driver behind me will stop following me so dangerously close.

    I have a spotless 30 driving record because I take great pride in my driving. I take great pride in my driving because I don't want to die in a car accident nor do I want to harm anyone else.

    And if that means that some selfish driver is impatient with me because I'm only going 76 in a 65 zone and he wants to go 80 and I'm doing it in the left lane then he can go around. I will decide what is a safe and responsible speed for me and my family and in which lane that is, not him.

    And which lane is the safest is not always the right lane. If there is no shoulder on the right but a large one on the left, I'll drive in the left lane so as to have room to ditch if need be. Just a month or so ago, a guy didn't see me in his blind spot and switched lanes right on top of me and I had to move off onto the shoulder to keep from being hit. I always expect the other guy to do the dumbest thing possible and he usually does.

    There are so many things like this to consider when driving and to simply say that it's a courtesy to only use the left lane to pass is not only ridiculous it's irresponsible and selfish.

    I get the argument, but it's shortsighted.
    Last edited by doncoo; 10-18-2011 at 09:35 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    There was a drive to have this posted on the freeways. But the State Police said it would cause drivers to be angry (the one's who wanted to pass)!
    UK Motorways & other major roads have dot-matrix signs which can be used to warn of delays, roadworks, etc. It's quite common now for them to display messages such as "Keep left except when overtaking" & "Don't hog the middle lane".

  10. #10
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    When I say I step on my brakes, I mean I gradually slow down so the impatient driver behind me will stop following me so dangerously close.

    I have a spotless 30 driving record because I take great pride in my driving. I take great pride in my driving because I don't want to die in a car accident nor do I want to harm anyone else.

    And if that means that some selfish driver is impatient with me because I'm only going 76 in a 65 zone and he wants to go 80 and I'm doing it in the left lane then he can go around. I will decide what is a safe and responsible speed for me and my family and in which lane that is, not him.
    Which, in my book, makes you pig headed and selfish with little or no consideration for other road users. We have certain conventions such as 'Keep to the right' or 'Keep to the left', (dependent upon national location) in order to enable smooth traffic flow with minimum inconvenience and danger to other road users. Luckily, over here, impeding traffic is an offence, as is undertaking.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Which, in my book, makes you pig headed and selfish with little or no consideration for other road users. We have certain conventions such as 'Keep to the right' or 'Keep to the left', (dependent upon national location) in order to enable smooth traffic flow with minimum inconvenience and danger to other road users. Luckily, over here, impeding traffic is an offence, as is undertaking.

    Ken.
    Ok old man. For those of you who need to be told how to drive that works out fine. For those of us able to think for ourselves, we can make our own safe decisions. I put safety above convenience. I have 30 years of safe driving under my belt; that is to say I've harmed no one and no one has harmed me. I'd say that shows consideration for other road users gramps.

  12. #12
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    Ok old man. For those of you who need to be told how to drive that works out fine. For those of us able to think for ourselves, we can make our own safe decisions. I put safety above convenience. I have 30 years of safe driving under my belt; that is to say I've harmed no one and no one has harmed me. I'd say that shows consideration for other road users gramps.
    At thirty years, compared with me, you are a relative novice. I too have no points on my licence and only one claim against me (in my youth) in about a million and a half miles of cars alone let alone 'bikes (down hill braking on a leaf covered road and hit the car in front of me that hit the car in front of him that hit .......) still, mea culpa!. I would think that this experience does some credibility to my opinions. I do not need to be told how to drive - I make my own decisions. My happy cruising speed is around 85 to 95 mph, speeding up or slowing down as necessary. Safety is not a matter of letting other people sort themselves out - that is only truly, and even then only broadly, applicable on a race track. Safety is a matter of 100% concentration, being aware of traffic conditions, posted warnings, road conditions, being spatially aware of what is going on all around you at all times, being considerate to other road users, hoping they will be considerate to you, and being very aware that there are always those who think they own the road.

    OK guys, discuss.

    Ken.
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    Ken.
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  13. #13
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    At thirty years, compared with me, you are a relative novice.
    Too true, too funny!

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    At thirty years, compared with me, you are a relative novice. I too have no points on my licence and only one claim against me (in my youth) in about a million and a half miles of cars alone let alone 'bikes (down hill braking on a leaf covered road and hit the car in front of me that hit the car in front of him that hit .......) still, mea culpa!. I would think that this experience does some credibility to my opinions. I do not need to be told how to drive - I make my own decisions. My happy cruising speed is around 85 to 95 mph, speeding up or slowing down as necessary. Safety is not a matter of letting other people sort themselves out - that is only truly, and even then only broadly, applicable on a race track. Safety is a matter of 100% concentration, being aware of traffic conditions, posted warnings, road conditions, being spatially aware of what is going on all around you at all times, being considerate to other road users, hoping they will be considerate to you, and being very aware that there are always those who think they own the road.

    OK guys, discuss.

    Ken.
    I don't know Ken. It's kind of hard to take someone seriously when they talk about safety when they drive on the wrong side of the road.

  15. #15
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    LMAO, spoken like a true American!

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  16. #16
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    I don't know Ken. It's kind of hard to take someone seriously when they talk about safety when they drive on the wrong side of the road.
    But that is purely so we don't come up behind road hogs who won't move over. Apart from that it adds a small frisson of excitement.

    Just found this wise advice on the 'net.

    “Visitors are informed that in the United Kingdom traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road. In the interests of safety, you are advised to practise this in your country of origin for a week or two before driving in the UK.”

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 10-18-2011 at 03:31 PM.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  17. #17
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Japan is the same way. I actually learned to drive that way. Switching gears with my left and my right on the wheel just feels more natural.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  18. #18
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    Japan is the same way. I actually learned to drive that way. Switching gears with my left and my right on the wheel just feels more natural.
    Same with flying, I used to hate it on the odd occasions I had to use my left hand on the stick. It just didn't seem right.

    Ken.
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    Anyone who intentionally hogs the left hand lane is being selfish. I am no longer in my 20's and hardly speed except when on a long distance trip, but I make sure that I am in the right hand lane except when passing. If I happen to be in the left lane, when someone approaches from behind, I move over. Its something called courtesy.

    What if the person behind is in a hurry because of some family tragedy or is on the way to an emergency? Refusing to yield the left lane is discourteous. What if your speedometer is wrong and you are really going 70 instead of 76? Of course, the left lane hog may not care, but refusing to yield is holding the rest of the line up.

    It is almost always safer to move over for faster traffic and should be common driving practice.

    For many reasons, I think that rural interstate speed limits should be removed entirely and emphasis on slower traffic keep right laws enforcement increased. I believe that the death rate would actually drop because people would be driving speeds at which they feel safe and comfortable driving and not trying for a numerical target speed.

    If a slower driver is hogging the left hand lane, this driver will do virtually anything to either get him out of the left lane or get around him. You can take that to the bank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    Ok old man.
    It would be really hateful and agressive of me to say "Ok Asshole" - so I won't do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    For those of you who need to be told how to drive that works out fine.
    Or to put people down because one feels inferior.

    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    For those of us able to think for ourselves
    I'm glad you are impressed with your opinion of yourself!

    Quote Originally Posted by doncoo View Post
    I'd say that shows consideration for other road users gramps.
    If you're such a thinker, a guy with awareness - maybe you could become more self aware by rereading your posts. Calling people names and being an angry, impatient wise ass is simply spreading your own bad feelings.

    My wife is a psychologist - I hear about clients with your behavior everyday. You are exposing more of your true self than what you think!

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