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How to Live Your Life in the Fast Lane, Without Being a (Fill in the Blank)

Sep 27, 2015

Image credit: i95exitguide.com


The fast lane (also known as the Left Lane or Go Lane) -  It’s where us auto enthusiasts like to live our lives… If we’re not accelerating, and weaving, and fighting for our position and driving past other cars that aren’t actually racing us, we’re not breathing.  The fast lane is this magical portal where pushing speed limit barriers are forgiven, as long as you don’t fall victim to a speed trap.   All law abiding, god fearing citizens and old people stay to the right, hell on wheels to the left.  


Now there are some “rules” about the fast lane… lets call them “laws”, and some “unwritten rules” of the fast lane… we’ll call those… “unspoken courtesies and guidelines to avoiding road rage”.


First the actual laws.  These may vary from state to state, but generally these are the rules you will get fined or pulled over for not following and they sort of go as follows: 


Typically the left lane is for passing only.  Sometimes it’s for carpools, but carpools that want to pass all other traffic and get to work on time because they overslept.  In all cases you should generally stay to the right, unless a car is going slower than the allowed speed limit (not the speed limit you’d like to go), in which case, you move to the left lane to pass them.  


It is illegal to pass cars on the right.  You’re not allowed to pass cars on the right.  This can also mean going from the left lane to the right lane, accelerating past the vehicle that was in front of you, and then immediately moving back over to the left lane.  This tends to happen a lot more on shoulders or when cars are trying to make left hand turns into oncoming traffic, but at the end of the day, the right side is the wrong side for passing.  


The speed limit applies in the fast lane, sort of.  Just because you have to speed up to pass a car going slower doesn’t mean you are legally allowed to overrule the speed limit just because you are passing them.   If you can’t pass the other car at the regulatory speed limit for that portion of the road or highway, then you should not be passing them.  HOWEVER… most state laws follow the vague vehicle code which states that a car driving blow the “normal speed of traffic” should be driven in the right hand lane.  It doesn’t say “speed limit” it says “normal speed” which implies that a driver going above the speed limit but slower than most traffic is still generally in the wrong.  But deep down, it’s a ploy to encourage cars in the left lane to break the speed limits so cops can pull over suspicious cars at will.  Some states have even tried to enforce what they call a “Slow-Poke” law, giving penalties to drivers driving in the fast lane slower than the normal speed.  


Your blinker is needed to pass other cars.  Not only that, you need to give a clear signal 100 feet in advance to pass.  This means sitting in your lane 100 feet with your blinker on, telling the entire world your master plan about to cut this guy off before actually cutting off that driver who was just going too slow in front of you.  But lucky for you when you’re driving about 65 mph, its literally about two seconds and then BAM!  IN YOUR LANE!  In your lane, in your face, get it?  Ahh ok… driving on… 


The left lane is not your personal lane to go fast.  Technically, you aren’t supposed to drive your entire trip down the parkway in the left lane, unless of course the right lane is going significantly slower then the speed limit due to off ramp traffic and delays.  As soon as you’ve passed the other cars going slower than the speed limit then you’re technically supposed to move back over.  By being a right lane hog and causing significant blockage in the right lane, you essentially defeat the purpose of it.  


If you are a police officer, you are free to drive as fast as you want in this lane without any penalties, and even make illegal u-turns.  Get out of his way.  


Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are the “understood rules of the fast lane”.  These are the “street rules” that deep down everybody knows about personal driving educate and how to avoid road rage, accidents and other automotive disasters:


Do not drive in the fast lane and go anything but significantly over the speed limit.  If you’re causing this lane to move slower than the right lane, then get yourself out of it.  


Don’t play god in this lane and avoid signals from other drivers behind you wishing to actually pass.  Just merge back over to the right lane and get out of their way before you cause an accident.  Many drivers will drive in the fast lane at the speed limit, not really passing anyone and ignore the polite requests (such as flashing instead of honking) to yield to faster traffic just because they’re driving the legal speed limit.  So they maintain their position just so they can drive .0001 mph faster then the cars in the right lane already going 65 mph and ignore the other drivers asking to pass.  What this does is piss off the driver behind you and engages them in aggressive race car maneuvers which will ultimately lead to you both getting the finger, and getting cut off.  If you’re not going to drive fast, just get out of the fast lane.  


On the flip side if you are in the fast lane behind a slow moving car - the understood and polite request is to flash your lights instead of blaring your horn to ask the other driver to yield to the right if they are not willing to go with the flow of traffic.  If they ignore your request, don’t become a belligerent jerk by tailgating.  For two reasons:  1. You are begging the car in front of you to go slower.  Begging them.  I’ve seen cars slam on their brakes on 65 mph highways, all the way down to 30 mph just to give the other drivers a big “go snuggle yourself” backlash.  If people don’t want to listen to the rules, riding their tail is not appropriate.  You don’t own the road.   Just go around them.  And NOT like a jerk, cutting them off as soon as you pass to teach them some type of life lesson.  It doesn’t work.  It just causes accidents.    2. If they do hit the brakes it’s going to cost you big time for not being far enough back to safely brake.  Not to mention potentially cause a fatal accident.    


It is not your job to enforce the speed limit.  Any attempts to be a “pace car” in the left lane will only enrage the drivers behind you.  In the left lane, it is generally understood you go with the flow of traffic.  Sometimes this may mean the speed limit and sometimes it may mean a little bit faster.  We all know that speed limits are more guidelines that have no real relationship to engineering standards, set at low enough rate to encourage us to break them, as they do to the ability of unskilled drivers to react in time to avoid an accident.  Ultimately everyone on the road has the same end goal - to get where they are going without causing an accident.  If you’re not comfortable driving a little faster and going with the flow of the other law breakers then just stay to the right.  Besides, the cop sitting in that speed trap can only catch one of you.    


If there’s only a few cars on the road and the right lane is relatively open to any traffic pace your heart desires, then stay to the right and pass when necessary.  Don’t drive in the fast lane just to speed.  You’re not immune to radar detectors that are going to most likely target you more if you are in the fast lane.  


If you are one of those people who only want to drive as fast as you can in the left lane be considerate to other drivers in the left lane who are also speeding, but not as fast as you are.  If they’re moving significantly faster than the right lane and going with the flow of traffic, don’t expect them to get out of your way.  Just because you want to drive faster than the general flow doesn’t mean the lane needs or is going to part for you like the Red Sea.  The pace of the “fast lane” is a group effort.  Just because you want to drive faster doesn’t mean the overall flow of the lane must increase.  If you’re that insistent in challenging fate for getting a 4 point ticket by driving 20+ the legal speed limit, leave the other 2 point speeding ticket breakers, and weave through traffic on the right lane to get around them.  Whats it going to hurt at that point to break a few more laws?  If a cop sees one car independently and aggressively accelerating and moving faster then the general flow, you are going to get pulled over.  The government runs off traffic ticket fines.  Just don’t cause any accidents.   


If the car behind you in the fast lane wants to drive faster, and after asking politely for you to yeild, yet you are blatently ignoring them, they may decide to try to pass you in the right lane.   When you see them make the move, just let them pass you.  Don't be one of those jerks who speeds up as they accelarate up your right side just to deny them pole position because you're remotely annoyed that the 70 mph you're driving in a 65 mph fast lane isn't fast enough for them.  It's a douche move that creates two dangerous drivers on the road instead of one in both lanes.   Just let them go to your own advantage.  They'll be the first car pulled over for going faster than the normal flow of traffic. 


The fast lane is the lane on the left, not the lane on the highway that is going faster.   If you choose to drive in the fast lane that may abruptly come to a halt don’t cause an accident by cutting someone off to get back into the right lane.  You will also indirectly affect the speed of everyone else behind them.  You choose to be in this lane with the other ruffians.  Just give it a second and it will regain it’s usual, law breaking pace.  Some idiot up ahead probably slammed on their brakes to teach someone a lesson or because they were busy texting instead of watching the road.   


Don’t be too quick to get furious at the car in front of you going too slow or slamming on their brakes in the fast lane… most likely, the real idiot causing the pile up is actually 3-4 cars ahead.  


If you are a police officer you are given official amnesty to drive as fast as you want in this lane without any repercussions.  This also gives a free pass to drive behind the cop (as long as his lights are off) at the exact same speed he’s breaking the law at to the excuse, “I was going with the flow of traffic… I didn’t realize the cop was speeding and breaking the law.”  


Overall, when it comes to the fast lane, you know who you are.  Don’t cause road rage by ignoring the unwritten rules, and don’t injure other motorists by disrespecting the safety regulations that are written.  Respect other drivers, share the road, and operate your vehicle safely at all times.  



Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only.  Please follow and obey all traffic and safety laws in your state while driving at all times.  

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