CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

MUTCD Addendum No. 214

(thanks Peter)

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This entry was posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 10:59 am and is filed under Traffic Signs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

24 Responses to “MUTCD Addendum No. 214”

  1. Sean Says:

    The thing that irks me about people who complain about “left lane drivers” is that the person complaining often forgets that the speed limit applies to all lanes of traffic.

    And if someone in the left lane is passing cars in the right lane, they are using the left lane appropriately no matter what speed they are going.

  2. Dbratland Says:

    The Washington State Patrol spokesman has said more than once to local traffic columnists that “keep right except to pass” is the law, and any motorists who are annoyed with speeders in the left lane are welcome to submit an application to become a state trooper. They’re hiring and would be happy to hear from you.

    Otherwise, keep right and do not drive in the left lane as some kind of vigilante speed enforcer.

  3. Josh R Says:

    Of course sometimes it’s a matter of being in the middle of passing, but having the unmitigated gall to be doing so while only going a bit over the limit instead of 20mph over like the guy behind you wants to do. I don’t play traffic cop, but nor do I enjoy being pushed around.

  4. Jeff G Says:

    Dbratland, if it is none of my business that you are breaking the law by speeding, then why is it any of your business that I am breaking the law by not moving over to the right?

  5. Sean is a moron Says:

    Sean is the posterboy for bad drivers. He can’t understand the basics

  6. Geof G Says:

    Excellent. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Paul Says:

    Jeff, it’s his business because you’re in the way. It’d be exactly the same deal if you were standing in his way at the mall, but at the mall he’d say, “excuse me” and you’d get out of the way. All he can do in traffic is get behind you… which is the direct equivalent of excuse me.

    A better question is: why do manors go out the window when you’re on a road instead of standing there?

  8. Dbratland Says:

    JeffG, the position of the state patrol in Washington is that drivers who take it upon themselves to control traffic are asking for trouble, such as road rage.

    That, and the fact that it’s the law. Every once in a while they get out and write a lot of tickets for camping in the left lane. I suppose if one disagreed one could lobby the Washington legislature to change the law.

  9. Rachel Says:

    After having driven in nearly all of the lower 48 states, plus some other countries, I’ve found that the wording on the signage makes a huge difference. No one (anywhere) seems to obey “slower traffic keep right.” Slower than what? Must mean “slower than me.”. In states where the signs read “keep right except to pass,” traffic flows very nicely. Lane maneuvers are expected and understood, as if they were choreographed.

  10. Haruspex Says:

    Manners go out the window in a vehicle because we don’t have a easy, reliable, and transparent way to communicate between vehicles. This needs to be fixed. Horns, hands, and hollering don’t count.

  11. Paul Souders Says:

    For whatever reason Washington drivers are known throughout the Western US for this drive left/pass right habit. Years ago I was driving with a coworker on I-80 across Wyoming. Nearly empty highway, nothing to pass, and everyone driving 75+ anyway. We see a car driving in the left lane waaaaay in the distance. My coworker, native Wyomingian, says: “must be a Washington car.” We eventually overtake this guy (on the right, natch), and sure enough…

  12. Dan Says:

    It’s not just a Washington thing. We get it all the time here in California’s Central Valley. And it’s usually from people who are going under the speed limit in the left lane. Look, regardless of what you think about speeding, moving aside for faster drivers is not only the law but it’s also common courtesy. Don’t play the high and mighty card and try to enforce the speed laws on other drivers. And don’t try to purposely piss them off. This can lead to dangerous road rage incidents. Just move over if you are going slower than other cars and mellow out. Life is too short for this crap.

  13. Seena Says:

    Dan’s on the right track. He probably has good manners, too, whether he lives in manor or not.
    (And, why does spelling go out the window online, Paul?)

  14. Al in Florida Says:

    I learned the “keep right except to pass” rule many years ago on the German Autobahns, where the speed limits were only suggestions. My little VW was passed by some of the finestt cars in the world. It makes traffic flow much, much better and you don’t have people passing on the right which is dangerous. If it irks you that you are letting Roger Ramjet go by, remember that there is a trooper down the road who hasn’t made his quota for the day. Think of the satisfaction you will get seeing Roger pulled over by the “bear.”

  15. Josh R Says:

    I think one big cause of left lane camping is crappy merging skills. If we didn’t have some drivers wandering onto the freeway at 45 mph, and others blasting on without looking and just expecting everyone to scatter at their approach to avoid a crash, we wouldn’t have as many cars camping in the left lane to avoid them.

  16. Jeff G Says:

    Dbratland,

    The speed limit is the law too. And I would be willing to bet that the number of tickets given out for not moving over to the right is a tiny fraction of the number of tickets given out for speeding in any state, including Washington. If you want to get so legalistic, then I would say that drivers in the left lane should move over once they are done passing, but they can’t go above the speed limit to pass someone, so it may take a while. So if I am passing someone in the left lane, however slowly, by keeping to the speed limit, I am following the law exactly.

  17. Jeff G Says:

    Actually keeping to the right is not even the law in every state. In six states you only have to move to the right if you are not doing the speed limit:

    http://www.mit.edu/~jfc/right.html

  18. Josh R Says:

    Jeff, actually it’s not always the case that the speed limit is the absolute limit. In at least a few states, including here in MN, you’re allowed to go a bit over while in the act of passing without getting in trouble. Here the law is that you’re allowed to exceed the posted speed limit by up to 10 mph while engaged in legally passing another vehicle. Obviously an office could still ticket you if you were say, passing on the right, or passing in a no-passing zone, or if he felt you were driving recklessly.

  19. Dbratland Says:

    The practical reality is that the speed limit is what it is, and some people are bound to want to go faster. Wishing it were otherwise is nice, but so what?

    The question is, are you going to sit there and block them? Or move over and let them be on their way? When I see slow cars blocking speeders, the speeders follow too closely, which is in itself making a dangerous situation worse. Then the speeders pass on the right, which is also more dangerous than passing on the left. And so either the speeder gets around the car camping in the passing lane, and continues speeding, so the camper has accomplished nothing. Or else the speeder can’t get around, and then the camper creates a knot of traffic where everyone bunches up, and has a harder time changing lanes. Bunched up traffic flows poorly and is dangerous. What good is that?

    I don’t see how ignoring the rule to keep right except to pass is going to cause the speed limits to be raised. If anything, they’re likely to lower the speed limits if accidents increase.

    So you can say you wish the speeders didn’t exist, or wish the speed limit was higher, but I observe somebody always wants to go faster than any speed limit. So why make it worse by creating more congestion? It makes no sense to me.

  20. Vin Says:

    I think one thing that speed limit absolutists forget is…driving slow does not necessarily equal driving safe. Nor does a literal following of every single rule of the road. Good driving requires both abiding by the rules AND reacting to subjective road situations. The two are not always the same thing.

    For example, let’s say there’s a highway with a 50 mph speed limit, however, most traffic is moving at about 10 mph above that. If a car going 60mph in the center lane moves left to pass a slow-moving truck, and then finds himself being tailgated by a left-lane dweller going 70, then the latter is clearly a bad driver. However, if there is a car just driving along in the left lane going 50, completely oblivious to the traffic whizzing by him in the center lane, then that person is the bad driver. Arbitrarily imposing the speed limit on other drivers on a highway is just as stupid and dangerous as speeding itself.

  21. Deke Says:

    Arguments about speed are irrelevant when discussing the left lane as a passing lane. This is a common practice in Europe and it simply makes sense. How many times have we seen blockages caused by someone in the left lane who will not get out of the way. This leads to aggressive and dangerous moves by other drivers and ends up helping nobody and risking everybody. Just get the hell out of the way. Think a little bit about someone other than yourself and/or how what you do impacts others. Besides, do you really enjoyed being tail gated by some raging driver who can’t get around you? Honestly, I am old enough now where I am more patient. I am usually in the upper middle of the pack regarding speed, but as I drive I am constantly making decisions to keep me away from as many of you as possible. Staying out of the left lane is the best way to stay safe on the expressway.

  22. Brock Yates, Jr. Says:

    I would respectfully suggest that proper lane stratification, stay right except to pass, is key to the maximum freeway capacity. No matter the laws or enforcement, people will travel at a speed that is comfortable to their perception of their skills. The writer above mentioned driving in Wyoming and most folks were chugging along at 75 mph which seems to be around the natural speed in all states and in fact the design parameter for the original Interstate System in 1955. That said, many people do run faster and slower for a variety of reasons and a multi-lane highway insures that the varying speeds can co-exist safely. This is true only if there is a set of guidelines for drivers to use to minimize the dangers of dissimilar speeds. Professional truck drivers on the whole, are the most courteous drivers on the road. They use turn signals, stay right after passing, are more aware than the average motorist, and most importantly predictable in their behavior. Someone easing down the highway staying in the left lane is not paying attention to the needs of the other drivers, predictable in their actions and ceding responsibility of their safety to the prudence of the following vehicles and faster traffic tries to overtake, sometimes forcing a pass endangering all on the highway.
    For those that say, with a certain smugness that the “speed limit is the same in all lanes” let me suggest a few concepts. One, it only takes a couple of vehicles to bring a highway to a stop by driving side-by-side on a freeway. The cars not allowing faster traffic to pass will cause a compression as cars catch up ultimately resulting in a traffic jam well after the guilty parties have exited the highway. Another easy to try idea is to gauge the reactions of your fellow drivers by making eye contact with passing vehicles traveling for a while in the left lane and then moving right. Slowly in the left lane will cause ire, interesting gesticulations, and near misses. Traveling in the right lane and your exposure to danger is less and you are nearly invisible to other drivers.
    I am a professional driving instructor, on racetracks and highways, and I have found in my years of wandering American highways that driving has become a right rather than the profound responsibility it really is. Most people are choosing airbags and crush-zones rather than skills to deal with panic situations. We all say we are good drivers, but fewer than 10% of the drivers in the country know how ABS lets you turn and stop at the same time and could actually do it in a panic situation, keep your eyes anywhere near the right place when driving (look to where you want to go and your hands will follow), nor what to do in the case you drop a wheel from the road surface or experience a blow-out. Low skills, inattention and egocentric driving are responsible for most crashes.
    Learn how to drive safety, the first step for some is to get out of the left lane and open your eyes.

  23. Regnad Kcin Says:

    “TRYING TO DRIVE 90 IN THE LEFT LANE? GO FUCK YOURSELF.”

  24. Tim Says:

    Sorry Sean, but while the speed limit applies to all lanes, the left lane is NOT the cruising lane. Keep your Slow moving butt to the right. Otherwise, YOU’RE the one interferring with the flow of traffic. Ask any officer around and they will give you a 5-10mph variance on the speed limit if traffic is flowing safely. Officers, especially air patrols target drivers who are exceeding the flow of traffic and or weaving and tailgating with excess.

    Live in the real world ‘around you’ not just in your car man! Pay attention and keep right.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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