Monday, February 23, 2015

Californians and lane discipline.

Lane discipline on motorways is something that seems to confuse a tremendous number of people. The rule is pretty simple: use the inner-most lane(s) and only use the outer lane(s) when passing. Not sure that's so hard to remember. I think part of the problem is that people think the outside lane is called the 'fast' lane, and it's not. You can drive plenty fast in the inside lanes.
What was enlightening to me recently though was just how regional this is. We were driving from Salt Lake City to Palm Springs and once we got south of Vegas, there was a noticable change in driving style. The motorway is two lanes either direction, and without fail, the Nevada vehicles would pull out, pass and pull back in, whilst the California vehicles would be sitting in the outside lane even on totally empty sections. (Utah vehicles would be stuck on the hard shoulder, crashing into other vehicles, driving backwards etc - the usual Utah crapshoot)
Fortunately in the US, you can overtake on both sides, so passing on the right was quick and simple. (Ok technically that's illegal in many states but the chances of being pulled over for doing it are absolute zero.)
I have trouble understanding the mindset of the drivers who just sit hogging the outside lane. It's the same everywhere - worse in Europe because not only is it illegal to overtake on the wrong side, but the police take such a dim view of it that you can lose your license in some countries if you're caught. But to see such a stark example of it made me wonder if there's some peculiarity about California drivers or the way they're taught. We passed hundreds of CA plates on open sections, on the right, as they were dawdling in the outside lane going 5 under the limit.