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Trend: Penalizing Slow Drivers For Not Yielding in Left Lane

June 23, 2014 1 comment
If lawmakers pass these bills, you could get ticketed for this.

If lawmakers pass these bills, you could get ticketed for this.

You’ve seen it a million times: (and you’ve probably shaken your head at) the multicar pileup in the left lane. Most likely, it is because a slow driver is stubbornly refusing to yield to others who would like to drive faster. This always leads to driver frustration, worsened traffic jams, and — at the extreme end — road rage.

And, it has sparked a new trend — towards penalizing slow drivers for not yielding. Maryland lawmakers are proposing a House Bill that reserves the left lane for passing only, except in certain conditions, thereby making it illegal to impede the flow of highway traffic in the left lane.

The upside to this bill is that, if regularly enforced, it would foster needed change in the D.C.-Baltimore metro area’s driving culture. Local lawmakers are finally recognizing the benefits of promoting Lane Courtesy. “What’s that,” you say? Click on this link to find out what Lane Courtesy is.

Virginia is also considering a similar law, going as far as to explicitly state, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle…at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.”

Other states already have Lane Courtesy laws on their books and do enforce them. Find out if yours is one of them.

June is Lane Courtesy month. If you’re sick and tired of others impeding traffic for no apparent reason, why not urge the lawmakers from MD and VA to provide stronger support for these bills to ensure that they become law?

My Reaction to Woman Receiving Ticket on I-95/Laurel for Driving 63 mph in 65 mph Zone‏

March 28, 2013 2 comments

Readers, I’m going to share with you a message that I sent to AAA spokesperson John Townsend on March 20 in reaction to his comments about a shocking ticket-issuing.  Some of you may agree, some may disagree.  But I need to put this out there because sentiments are high on both sides, and I want to know what you think.  Let’s continue this dialog.  Please see below:

Greetings!  I politely disagree with your comments in this news story that this ticket is sending the wrong message to the public. 
 
I think it’s sending exactly THE RIGHT message — one that we should have been sending for a very long time now — that it is completely unacceptable to impede traffic in the left lane. 
 
Too much emphasis is on the fact that the lady was adhering to the speed limit and shouldn’t have been given a ticket.  I’ll give that she was not exceeding the speed limit (I will come back to this in a minute).  But, she was also impeding the flow of traffic, which is a much worse offense.  The main reason is that it incites road rage — guaranteed every time.  Drivers get very aggressive and start to jockey for position to go around her, which has the potential to cause many horrible/fatal accidents.  Her actions were disturbing to what would ordinarily be a calm driving environment.  Her actions created a hostile atmosphere that put everybody around in real danger.  THIS KIND OF RECKLESS DRIVING IS THE REAL CAUSE OF TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, NOT NECESSARILY DRIVING FASTER.  Realizing this, AAA should support and speak out in defense of driving habits that are safe, not incitable.
 
Coming back to the point I was making earlier, the real problem is that we have traffic laws that are totally contradictory in this country.  On one hand, we have laws that permit and encourage officers to issue tickets for “speeding” because “speeding” has been demonized and oversimplified as “dangerous driving.”  To support this, people drive the speed limit in all lanes and feel justified in doing so — after all, they are just obeying the law.  On the other hand, we have always been taught that the left lane(s) should be preserved for those who are passing all traffic on the right.  In order to obey this law, you will have to surpass the speed limit.  Further, we also have laws that permit officers to issue tickets when drivers are impeding the flow of traffic.  These contradictions make the whole ding dang proposition flawed!  Who should be considered right under any of these circumstances??? 
 
To drive on certain European highways, drivers are required to take more classes to handle their cars SAFELY.  They are trained to be better drivers, not simply penalized for driving faster.  They support the mantra that highways were built to move people/goods in the most expedient way possible, so the unhindered flow is maintained by always urging slower traffic to keep to the right, regardless of speed.  Consequently, there really is no speed limit.  But they do have an advisory speed limit. European authorities are also more enlightened in that they realize the term “reckless driving” should be assigned to someone who is carelessly driving, not merely driving faster.  You can adhere to lower speed limits and still kill/harm people due to inexperience and driving in ways that disregard the safety of all who are around!  Hello, cellphones!
 
By saying this, however, please note I am not saying that higher speeds are not a contributing factor to worse accidents.  I am also not saying that there should be no speed limits on U.S. highways.  I am simply saying that U.S. authorities are causing major problems because they are contradicting themselves, oversimpifying the issue, and encouraging worsened traffic congestion by en/forcing everybody to drive slower because of lower highway speed limits.  The focus on speed has been all wrong for too long!  And the problem has gotten worse as populations have increased!
 
Rather than saying this ticket issuing sends the wrong message, how about looking at this using the Europeans’ model, which would argue that this woman’s actions were reckless and inconsiderate to all the other drivers on the road.  And, if she wanted to drive slower to feel safer, she should just keep to the right.  The solution to this problem is higher quality, continued driver training and enforcing the law that “slower traffic keep right” on our highways instead of issuing tickets to and demonizing those who are just trying to expediently get from Point A to Point B. 
 
By the way, I am a Premium AAA member, I maintain a blog that discusses these and similar issues, and I passionately advocate for expedient travel that gets everyone from Point A to Point B SAFELY
 
Thanks!
 
Nneka Jenkins (trafficfrustrationblog.com)

As of the writing of this blogpost, Mr. Townsend has not responded to this letter. 

Know a Bad Driver? Are You One? Casting for a Web Series

I was poking around on another website where you can share your frustration with commuting and driving, platewire.com, and found this message in the comment section from “badmark” posted on July 10. 

Please let me know if you nominate someone!

Do you or someone you know suffer from road rage?  Does your worst side come out when you hit the road?  Are friends and family afraid to drive with you?  Do you have an extreme phobia of roundabouts and 4-way stop signs?

If this describes you, or someone you know, we want them NOW!  Car and Driver Magazine is seeking HORRIBLE DRIVERS with BIG PERSONALITIES for a web series.  Series will be shot in the New York Tri-State Area in August/September.  We are seeking them out, coaching them with a professional driving instructor, giving them a final exam and giving them a chance to regain their driving cred.

Interested?  Or would like to nominate someone?  Please email baddrivercasting@gmail.com with “Bad Driver” in the subject line with the following info:

Your name:
Name of Bad Driver you are nominating:
Ages:
Contact Number:
Location:
Please include photo of yourself and the person you are nominating.
Why are you (or person you’re recommending) the Worst Driver Ever?

Traffic Congestion Problem Has Reached the Boiling Point

Pot of Boiling Water from SerVE Photography

Pot of Boiling Water

Traffic congestion is costing us more than just time spent idling in traffic.  According to a report released by TRIP, Maryland’s roads are in desperate need of repair due to congestion delays and increasing traffic volume.  Another cost of traffic congestion is road rage has been on a steady incline in recent years.

And there are other contributing factors that make the problem worse, such as Federal policies that keep us stuck in traffic, by incorrectly assessing the true causes of traffic congestion instead of earnestly dedicating the proper time and energy it will take to really understand the underlying problems.  Not to mention the paradoxical prevailing attitude in the D.C. area that “someone should do something about the problem” but no one wants to pay for congestion relief

According to Driven Apart: How sprawl is lengthening our commutes and why misleading mobility measures are making things worse, a report by CEOs for Cities and the Rockefeller Foundation, urban sprawl is another contributing factor of why we spend so much time in traffic.  This report surmises that the length and grueling nature of our commutes is more a function of the way we build our cities versus how we have built our roads.  This is a very interesting concept, indeed.

If we are ever going to solve this problem, there are several things we need to do: (1) we really need to stop wasting taxpayer money by funding/supporting studies that don’t assess the true causes of traffic congestion, (2) we also need to get real about the opportunity cost of fixing or at least lessening the effects of traffic congestion, (3) we need to concentrate support behind those projects that are assessing actual causes and effective solutions, and (4) we need to mobilize our local, state, and federal governments to develop sensible transportation policies (and adequate, responsible funding) backing those efforts. 

This problem is costing us too much time out of our lives (literally), it is harming our health (i.e. high blood pressure, et al, due to road rage and general frustration), and it is costing us our overall sense of well-being — those tangible things that make life more tolerable, pleasurable, worth living — like time spent with spouses, kids, friends, and hobbies. 

We need to stop ignoring the problem, stop being complacent about the problem, and actually do something about it.  How do you view this issue?  Are you ready and willing to finally take action?

If Drivers Have to Obey Traffic Signs, So Do Pedestrians!

Pedestrians Disobeying No Walk Sign

Something I’ve noticed lately is that many pedestrians don’t obey traffic signs.  I know you’re probably like, “wow, and drivers typically don’t obey them, either!”  But no, seriously, I didn’t really realize how bad pedestrians were with this until recently. 

As children, we were always taught in schools and by parents to obey traffic signals.  You were not to walk into the street without looking both ways first, and you were not to enter a crosswalk until the traffic sign permitted you to.  

But pedestrians these days seem to follow a different creed.  At the intersection of Rockville Pike and Marinelli Road(across from the White Flint Metro station), the pedestrians are irreverent and oblivious to the traffic signs.  Daily, I am prevented from making my right-hand turn onto Rockville Pike when it is my turn because pedestrians cross the road at inappropriate times.  

It almost begs the question: do pedestrians think that traffic signals only apply to drivers?  Do pedestrians feel that drivers should always give them the right of way, regardless of what the signal says?  

Rules of the Road by Dona Sauerburger, provides a simple explanation of the law that pedestrians (and drivers) need to follow in the D.C. metro area.  Basically, it says that pedestrians crossing an intersection on a crosswalk with traffic controls need to yield to drivers when the “don’t walk” or “upraised hand” sign is displayed.  

I don’t have a problem yielding to pedestrians when it’s their turn to cross the road.  But I’m just saying…when it’s my turn to go, can I get some reciprocity?  Fellow drivers/commuters: do you experience this while driving?  Please share your experiences!

Annoying Bumper Stickers and Window Tchotchkes Making Other Drivers Aggressive Towards You?

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Offensive bumper sticker

Thinking about driver aggression, there is something I’ve been really wondering about recently.  Do other people’s bumper stickers, window tchotchkes, and rear mirror hangers make other drivers act aggressively towards each other?  I think it’s a really fair question, given all the factions in modern society. Think about that political bumper sticker on the back of your car that screams your chosen political affiliation.  Think of that religious trinket that you have dangling from your rear view mirror that shouts your devout religiosity (or lack thereof).  Think of that all those stuffed thingamajigs that you’ve got sitting in your rear window that might be objectionable to others.  Think of that rear license plate frame/surround that practically cheers for the undergraduate/graduate school you went to.  

These things can act as conduits of information about the driver that — I submit — may or may not make you a target for aggression by other drivers.  Everybody has a favorite — and a “not-so-favorite.”  At the very least, everybody has an opinion/generalization of people who make any of these associations.  You could be making enemies on the road and not even realize it! 

The reason why I brought this up is not long ago, I was wondering about who I could be personally offending with the stuff I’ve got on/inside my car.  Not many drivers have probably even given this kind of thing much thought when choosing their bumper stickers, et al.  But I thought I’d bring it to your attention for your feedback and thoughts.  Just one of those things that make you go, “hmmmmm.”

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