February 27, 2003

By Michael Strickland

It's the "Fast" Lane, Stupid

Today, I drove several hundred miles to spend a few days at the "family retreat," my parents' beautiful house in the Central Coast wine country. I faced some tough traffic on my last few trips up here, so I expected the worst when I departed San Diego in the middle of a rainstorm this morning. In the end, however, I made near-record time, arriving after just over five hours on the road. Nevertheless, this was despite the surrounding traffic, not because of a lack of it.

The freeways were not too heavily clogged with cars, but the moron meter was hitting the red. From the heart of San Diego county to the mountains north of L.A., idiot after idiot obstructed my way. Whenever I came up behind another driver, they stayed put, oblivious, continuing on at a snail's pace. I felt like Wonder Woman, driving an invisible vehicle.

What is it about California drivers? They are utterly clueless about the etiquette of using the fast lane only for passing. I'll concede that in a big city, the fast lane should be used as just another lane, since there are too many cars on the road to keep it for passing-only. But when a faster driver comes up from behind, and there's plenty of room in the other lanes to move over, why do these morons not budge? Whether it's attitude, ignorance or just cell-phone distraction, it's damn dangerous.

And that's why I'm giving a little of my own attitude by ranting about people who don't stay out of the fast lane. It's dangerous. Forget about the rebuttal that speeding is also dangerous. That's a given, but it's also irrelevant. If someone comes up fast behind you, and you don't get out of their way, what's going to happen? Are they going to react by thinking, "Oh, this guy's going slow, I should slow down too"? No. They're either going to tailgate you or swerve around you (or both). Either situation makes the road even more dangerous than it already is. You're not going to change their behavior by blocking their way. Instead of speeding down the fast lane (which—theoretically—slower cars avoid), the faster car is forced into the other lanes, where it has to maneuver around slower cars—greatly increasing the chance of an accident.

I don't intend to excuse the behavior of speeding drivers like myself. I simply wish to point out that people who hog the fast lane only make a bad situation worse. If there's room in other lanes, use it. Stay out of the fast lane unless you're passing. It's common sense. And everyone outside of southern California seems to get it. In fact, once I got through the Tejon Pass, the morons evaporated. Drivers got out of my way as I approached in the fast lane, just as I moved over as faster drivers came up behind me. It was poetry at eighty miles an hour.


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Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Chuckle:

You're driving a car, not a phone booth!

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I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

Today's Column
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2/26: Killer TV
2/25: Please Bend Over
2/24: Morning Glory
2/23: Peacemongering
2/22: "Home" in the City of Angels
2/21: Capri Memories
2/20: A Man is a God in Ruins
2/19: No Man is an Island
2/18: Iraq's "Cooperation"
2/17: Failure to Communicate
2/16: Cold City
2/15: Man-Eaters of Tsavo
2/14: Valentine Gems
2/13: Grab Bag
2/12: The End is Near
2/11: And the Winner Is...
2/10: Exploration is Risky Business
2/9: Staphylococcus
2/8: Morning Cup of Kofi
2/7: Game Over
2/6: The Eagle Never Landed
2/5: Pope: Potter No Problem
2/4: Time for Another Rewrite
2/3: A Matter of Opinions
2/2: Suicidal Bravado
2/1: Godspeed, Columbia

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