Each year at this time I dedicate a column to one of the most frustrating and dangerous motoring habits: driving slowly in the passing lane or crawling along in the middle lane of a three-lane artery.
Why are these dangerous? You force other drivers to make risky right-hand passes. If you putter along in the middle lane you block the truckers' passing lane. Why frustrating? Driving slow in the passing lane clogs the highway. Studies show that snail drivers in the passing lanes and middle lanes waste a third of highway capacity during peak rush hours.
Strangely, the practice flies against both common sense and the law (two entities that rarely unite).
The left lane is the one you use when you are passing. The right lane is the "If you're not passing stay here lane." This is one of the first rules they teach you in driver's 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.
I've tried to stimulate reasoned debate on the subject and put forward many constructive suggestions for a solution to this problem:
- Cruise missiles fired at cars that drive below the speed limit in the passing lane.
- Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy.
Somehow none of these ideas have taken hold with law makers.
I've come to realize that the source of this poor behaviour may be one of acceptance. Most middle-lane morons may not know they have a problem. Like drug addicts, alcoholics and marketing people, they may be in denial. So, I've come up with a quiz, similar to the ones you find online, you know the kind, "Do I Have a Drinking Problem?" or "Should I Go to Journalism School?" or "In Order to Go to Journalism School Do I Need to Have a Drinking Problem?"
I'm asking all my readers to take this short test and, if you fail, admit you have an issue and get help.
1. In a three-lane expressway, driving 60 km/h in the middle lane is safe because:
a) I can see the other cars blazing by me on both sides.
b) Like all good Canadians I am drawn irresistibly to the centre.
c) If anything goes wrong I can jerk violently into either lane.
2. You're driving on a four-lane highway. Two lanes running either way. It's rush hour. The right lane is completely open. What do you do?
a) I'm not in a hurry and love the scenery. I drive the speed limit in the right lane.
b) I get in the middle lane and gear it down to 70 km/h. That way, the other drivers can pass me in the right lane – you know, the "right of way."
c) I swerve back and forth between both lanes without signalling. That way, people can pass me on either side. I like to give people choice. Canadians are, after all, known for their politeness.
d) I get into the centre lane and cruise. The light in the passing lane is way better for the screen when I'm texting.
3. Driving well below the speed limit in the passing lane is okay because:
a) As a society we're in too much of a rush. We need to get back to a simpler time when people savoured their lives. You know, before there were polio vaccinations or pasteurized milk.
b) In Britain, the left lane is the slow lane.
c) If I'm in the centre lane, I don't have to do sporadic checks over my left shoulder. No blind spot to watch out for.
d) My Avalon gets the best fuel efficiency in the passing lane.
4. The following sorts of people will not be found creeping along in the middle lane of a three-lane artery.
a) Anyone over 50.
c) Anyone under 50.
d) Chimpanzees over 50.
5. When you choose to drive slowly in the passing lane, you're telling the world:
a) I am so very, very, very, terribly frightened of driving.
b) No time to drive. Talking to the person sitting next to me takes all my mental energy.
c) I'm wearing a hat while driving. Enough said.
d) My problem is your problem. We're all in this together.
Answers: If you answered a), b), c) or d) to any of these questions, then you are a middle lane moron and you need to crack the Highway Traffic Act, go to driver's education, look closely in the mirror, watch Drive Angry in a loop for 24 hours and, if these measures don't work, consider having yourself buried alive.
Remember: A passing lane is a terrible thing to waste.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy