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(Graham Roumieu)
(Graham Roumieu)

Road Sage

Meddling in the middle lane Add to ...

A year ago, I implored our government and all the brightest minds in science and technology to invent a system that would fire missiles at motorists who drive slowly in the passing lanes of our nation's highways. These "Middle Lane Annihilators" would obliterate such pests (leaving puffy clouds of smoke) and make our roads clutter-free.

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I thought it was a pretty progressive agenda - one that would appeal to Harper Inc., who already use this sort of strategy on those who criticize its benevolent rule - but apparently the bleeding hearts in Ottawa didn't agree and I'm sorry to report that thus far no studies or research have been conducted in pursuit of this elevated goal. Instead, the driving menace creeps along, parking their cars in the left lane and chugging along at 70 km/h, epitomizing everything that is wrong with our traffic system while causing untold billions of minutes of frustration, and endangering everyone on the road.

What's a left lane hog? Well, in case you're a space alien popped down to pick up specimens or an 18th-century pirate who's just fallen through a time portal, here's the deal.

On our North American highways, the left lane is the passing lane. That's the lane you use when you are passing. The right lane is the snail trail. It's the "If you're not passing stay here lane."

If you like driving below the speed limit, the right lane is your home and native land. This is the first thing they tell a person in drivers' education, right after "don't run anyone over." Section 147 of the Highway Traffic Act clearly states that on a highway with more than two lanes running in the same direction, the slow traffic is to occupy the right lane. It's the law.

So why would a supposedly sentient being drive slowly in the passing lane? That's a good question and, if you're going to try to answer it, you might as well put "Why do we have war?" and "Why do we save money but spend time?" on the list.

There are really only two possibilities. Left lane hogs are either willfully disobeying the law or happily ignorant of it.

What's worse? Someone who is too lazy to obey the law or someone too stupid to know it? This not only sums up the two most common driving philosophies on Canadian highways but the very foundation of modern-day Canada - an exuberant steadfast ignorance coupled with unwavering idleness. I guess it depends if you're a "half-full" kind of guy.

In large cities we get an urban variation on left lane blockage - middle lane morons who amble along slowly in the centre lane of a three-lane highway.

On Ontario arteries such as the 401 and the Queen Elizabeth Way, this sort of pest is as common as over-stuffed raccoons and crap-dispensing geese. To these motorists, driving at a crawl in the middle lane feels safe. They can sit there; turn their brains off, starting texting and get down to the business of living another episode of the sitcom Commuting (A Samuel Beckett Production).

The middle lane safe? That's insane. When you are in the middle lane you have traffic blazing by you on both sides. You force people to pass and, every time a lane change is made, there is an increased risk of an accident occurring. It also tempts motorists to pass on the right side. This is a recipe for disaster.

On a three-lane highway the middle lane is the passing lane for truckers. When you make like a lump in the middle lane you make a trucker's already difficult existence even worse. Middle lane morons, if you have no care for us, for heaven's sake consider the truckers!

That's why, for these reasons and a thousand more, I will not stop lobbying. I will send Prime Minister Stephen Harper a respectful letter telling him what a great job he is doing and an anonymous letter about left lane hogs. I will contact my MP (whoever that is). I will notify my provincial leader (and also Dalton McGuinty). I will wake the Senate! I will wear a two-lane asphalt-coloured ribbon. We must find a cure.

To get the ball rolling, here are a few ideas. Scientists take note.

A Traffic Laxative: We should get big pharma companies to invent "Left-Lax" a medication that could be administered orally (or in other ways if we're in a bad mood) to drivers who insist on clogging up our passing lanes. Left-Lax would ease passing lane constipation and leave us feeling refreshed and ready to start our days.

Electroconvulsive therapy for Left Lane Hogs: This kind of treatment has been shown to be therapeutic when fighting severe depression. It would not be in this case. It would strictly be punitive.

Camera Photo Radar: Police can take pictures of left lane hogs and send them to their loved ones and employers with captions like "Slower traffic keep right" or "Get in the right lane, you miserable sack of excrement."

Or cruise missiles. Take your pick.

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

Follow on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

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