The dreaded left lane bandit…
Are you a bandit? If not, maybe you know a bandit. Perhaps you’ve been a bandit earlier in your life. I’m not talking about a robber or outlaw. This is someone drives in the left lane for no apparent reason. The dreaded “Left Lane Bandit”. Okay, so now I ask again – are you a left lane bandit?
Each and every day I witness many drivers make a right turn onto the street and immediately switch lanes and drive in the left lane. I keep watching to see if they intend to turn left soon after, but no, they just decided that was the best lane for them. In some cases it can be a better lane, but in many cases it’s not.
In many jurisdictions the right lane is considered the “driving lane” and the left lane should be reserved for passing. In some cases it falls under the “basic rules of the road”. If that’s the case, why stay in the left lane for no reason other than “I like that lane the most”? When I’m teaching new drivers or re-training licensed drivers, we choose the lane that offers the best view, the best flow and the least risk. Risk can come from any direction, so we teach lane changes as needed.
I often hear drivers complain how the right lane travels too slowly for them, which is why they stay in the left lane. When so many drivers automatically switch to the left lane, doesn’t that clog up the left lane more than the right lane? The frustrating part for many drivers happens when drivers move into the left lane and then travel slower than the flow of traffic in that lane. Despite the fact that the left lane is often referred to the passing lane, it should be noted that each lane, whether in the city, highway or expressway has the same speed limit compared to the lane next to it. However, since many drivers follow the understanding that faster traffic should keep to the left and slower traffic keep to the right, it’s best not to frustrate other drivers by driving slowly in the left lane. It really falls under the category of creating a cooperative driving culture.
Here are a few added thoughts for those believing the left lane is the best lane. Drivers who wish to turn left can take longer to do that than those who wish to turn right. That slows down your travels and wastes fuel if you’re stuck behind them. In rural areas, head on collisions occur anytime the drivers crosses over that centre line. Many head on collisions are caused by distracted drivers (cell phone, food, stereo, passengers, etc.) who then cross the centre lane. If you’re not in that lane, you have less of a risk of having another vehicle crash into your vehicle head on. Instead, choose the lane that gives you the best view, best flow and least risk at that moment.
Do yourself and others a courtesy; keep to the right lane except when passing someone or when you need to make a left turn. Change lanes to the right or left when it’s needed to help improve your visibility or reduce risk. Move from the left lane to the right lane when a faster moving vehicle is approaching you from behind. Make that your new habit and remove the old habit of always wanting to stay in the left lane. Then you’ll be able to remove the label of being a bandit.