Anyone who has ever tried to break a bad habit knows that the first step is admitting to having a problem. It can be difficult. Sometimes an intervention is required. Ultimately, it's about recognizing the warning signs.
When it comes to driving, there are few bad habits more vexing than driving slowly in the passing lane or creeping along sluggishly in the middle lane of a three-lane highway. It violates basic driving principles – which stipulate that drivers should stay in the right lane except when passing. Being what some call a "middle lane moron" or "middle lane hog" and others label a "left lane loser" is as dangerous as it is irritating. When you clog the passing lane, you force other motorists to make tricky right-lane passes. Statistics show that middle-laners and left lane losers waste a third of highway capacity during rush hour.
Each year, I dedicate a column to trying to eradicate this terrible custom, and this week my quest continues with a quiz that I hope will help afflicted people come to terms with their dependence. Take the "Passing Lane Losers Quiz." If you find that you've got a problem, get help and get the hell out of the fast lane.
1. On two lanes of highway running in the same direction, the left lane is known as the "passing lane" because …
a) It's a great place to lock your car into cruise control at 60 km/h and "pass" the time.
b) I actually consider it more of a "waiting lane." I stay there and never leave or alter my speed. That way, I'm always passing.
c) Someone once told me it's the lane you use when overtaking a slower vehicle but I don't know, I'm not sure. Who cares? Does it matter?
d) Don't you mean "texting" lane?
e) All of the above.
2. The state of Georgia recently put forward "House Bill 459," which penalizes "left lane lingerers." It's nicknamed:
a) "The Slow Poke Bill." If a car doesn't move over when a faster car approaches, the driver can be fined up to $1,000.
b) "The Divine Retribution Bill." Drivers who drive slowly in passing lane are removed from their vehicles and tickled until almost unconscious. Their cars are spray-painted with the words "Scorn Me" or a scarlet "S" for "slow."
c) "The Highway Hygiene Initiative Bill." Vehicles that drive slowly in the passing lane are targeted by cruise missiles left over from the Cold War. The drivers' ashes are collected, dyed in pastel colours and then scattered annually at the Indy 500 in what most observers say is a moving opening ceremony.
3. Answer "Yes" or "No" to the following:
a) When commuting to work in the morning I routinely drive 65 km/h in the middle lane of a three-lane expressway.
b) Then I zone out to fixate on things I could have done differently.
c) I could have gone to USC for film school. Learned Spanish.
d) Then I focus on things I could do. I could quit my job. Maybe I should travel. Go gluten-free? Should I get that checked out by a doctor?
e) Then it occurs to me: I can't believe I'm going to die one day.
f) By this point I'm so out of it, so disconnected from reality that I black out.
g) I arrive at work and park my car.
4. It's okay to drive slowly in the middle or the passing lane because …
a) Speed limits are really just "speed suggestions."
b) Whenever I sit in the passing lane, like a stubborn piece of undigested solid lodged in the lower bowel, I do it for good reason.
c) Feels safe.
d) It doesn't hurt anyone – except truckers who use the middle lane to pass, other drivers who must make dangerous passes on either side, and all other drivers not previously mentioned.
5. According to Section 147 of the Highway Traffic Act:
a) On a highway with more than two lanes running in the same direction slow traffic is to occupy the right lane.
b) On a highway with more than two lanes running in the same direction slow traffic is to occupy the left-hand lane like a Trust Fund Marxist occupying a public park on a pleasant September afternoon.
c) On a highway with more than two lanes running in the same direction slow traffic is to the left lane what garlic is to vampires, what oil is to vinegar, what the Bubonic Plague was to the Middle Ages – NOT GOOD!
Score one point for each correct answer: 1. e; 2. a; 3. Score one point for each "yes"; 4. d; 5. a.
What Your Score Says About Your Driving:
1 to 4 – You may be using the passing lane in ways that are slow and harmful.
5 to 9 – You are a "binge" middle lane moron prone to bouts of sluggish motoring.
10 to 11 – An officer will be by shortly to confiscate your automobile.
If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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