I have a dream. That one day our nation's three-lane highways will be lined with devices which vaporize vehicles that park themselves in the middle lane and chug along at 80 km/h.
These Middle Lane Annihilators will obliterate driver and car in seconds leaving nothing but a puffy cloud of smoke that is cool for other drivers to pass through.
Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't it be grand? Highways where slow cars stay in the right lane and traffic flows? After all, the law is straightforward. According to Section 147 of the Highway Traffic Act, on a highway with more than two lanes running in the same direction slow traffic is to occupy the right lane. It should be easy for us all to obey. Right? Right? Bueller? Bueller?
Unfortunately, we're more likely to see peace in the Middle East, unanimous action on climate change and a porn-free Internet before this great day arrives. Middle lane hoggers, middle lane morons, the middle lane menace, whatever you want to call the odious clan, "those of the middle lane" are as ubiquitous and dangerous as they are annoying.
We all recognize middle lane hogs. For some reason the mushy grey rancid porridge between their ears tells them that the safest place on the road is in the centre lane going below the speed limit. Who knows, perhaps some burnout instructor told them so. What's amazing is that there is zero logic at play. When you drive in the middle lane you have traffic going by both sides of your automobile. That's twice the risk from other vehicles. When you, as a slow driver, are in the right lane you have only one stream of traffic going by you and it is going by the driver's side where your blind spot is smallest.
The sight of a middle lane moron is the definition of disabling anxiety. Hunched over the wheel, hands clasped in a tortured grip, bleak eyes staring fearfully forward, a demeanour that one would expect to see on a prisoner who is trying to disassociate during intense questioning, it is as if the middle lane hog is attempting to literally disappear. They are the antithesis of how a competent motorist should appear.
Which leads to the inevitable question: Middle lane moron, if you are that terrified of highway driving what are you doing behind the wheel?
The answer: But if I don't drive in the middle lane how will I enrage/endanger thousands of people?
And don't be deceived, this is more than passive aggressive motoring. These folks effectively transform three-lane highways into a two-lane highways. A 2004 British survey estimated that middle lane drivers and other lane offenders wasted up to a third of highway capacity during peak hours. Drivers must change lanes to avoid hitting them and every time a lane change is made there is an increased risk of an accident occurring. Of course, those of the middle lane will argue that they are forced to find refuge in the centre because of all the aggressive drivers who are constantly changing lanes. The middle laners fail to realize that everyone must switch lanes because they are there, constipating the highway like a stubborn stool, blocking the smooth flow of the middle passage.
Middle laners are especially rough on truckers who in many provinces are not legally allowed to use the far left lane. That makes the centre lane their passing lane. When a driver hogs the middle, truckers are forced to make the more risky pass on the right-hand side. Let's put it in language middle lane morons will understand: "Truck passing right side bad."
Unfortunately, middle lane mayhem is not restricted to our highways. It is now common to see city motorists making both right and left hand turns from the middle lane. These drivers execute this move as a way of getting out of waiting their turn. Rather than queue up for a right hand turn, they blaze by in the centre lane and turn. It's dangerous, it's submoronic, and it's just the kind of play you'd expect from a person so narcissistic they don't feel the need to wait for their legal opportunity to make a turn. It would be great if we could rig cruise missile technology up to photo radar and use it to fire huge vats of dung at these cars. Or merely use cruise missiles to blow them off the face of the earth.
There has been plenty of hand-wringing about making our roads safer. Why not start by enforcing lane regulations? It's not sexy and it does not involve blowing millions on technology but it might just work.
Until then …
Unconscious you ride.
Soft rock masking fear, turtle.
Middle lane hell-bound.