Unwarranted Tendency to Occupy Passing Lanes By City/State

Do drivers in your neck of woods likely to move over from highway/multi lane road’s left/passing lane when faster traffic approach from behind?

Majority of drivers in Chicagoland are unlikely to move over even when faster traffics give them “hints” that they are blocking the flow. I’ve noticed clearly, drivers near Atlanta are pretty bad about this while the most other cities and states in between from Chicago to Atlanta are rather judicious about keeping the passing lanes open for passing. As you get closer to Chicago, NYC, DC, and most of larger metropolitan areas, it becomes obvious drivers creating bottlenecks for no other reason than pride, stubbornness or simply callousness are not phased by presence of much faster traffic being stuck behind them. Carolinas, seemed to me, were pretty good, though near metropolitan areas it took bit more nudging. Why is this? Maybe I answered my own question: “callousness”.

Generally, I guess, metropolitan area drivers are more likely to do this than rural area drivers but I find certain city drivers do not necessarily do this. You notice this when you drive across America that some area drivers are more prone to do this. I don’t know why that is.

Do you notice this too?

How about where you live?

I don’t see it so much around Michigan. I move over myself well ahead of time. I know my place. Sometimes I want to drive fast and other times I’m nearing an exit and want to move slower. When fast traffic moves up too fast on people, they certainly do tend to stay put and make the speeder go around. This is safer than changing lanes when they suspect the speeder may try to go around at the same time as they would be changing lanes. Accidents do happen that way. In my experience when a car pulls up real fast, they often do swerve around the slower car to “punish” them for not driving over the limit enough to suit them.

I live in the MD, DC, VA area, and this is a huge issue with motorist, here.

I refer to it as “proper lane discipline”, in which traffic should pass on the left, which also means traffic should generally be traveling faster in each left consecutive lane (this makes passing more consistent and predictable). It’s safer and helps to reduce situations where you have rolling roadblocks, which from what I’ve observed, is a prime reason people tend to get aggressive about driving (frequent lane changes, tendencies to shoot gaps, merging into the same lane, etc.).

As you say, many times, it’s an issue of pride, callousness, and also indifference, but the problem also exist at the state level. Some states have laws/roads where slower moving traffic is prohibited from occupying the left-most lane. In MD, however, once you’re doing the speed limit, you’re free to occupy most any and all lanes, as you please. I think the latter is unreasonable and doesn’t show other drivers proper courtesy. Excessive speeders are to be handled by law enforcement, but otherwise, it demonstrates proper lane discipline to pass and then merge over, if you’re just going to be cruising.

Of course, there are also exceptions to this, but it’s a huge problem in this tri-state area and it produces unnecessary bubbles of traffic.

To me, it seems to be the most prevalent with truckers on I-95 in the Carolinas. Not only do they occupy the left lane, they occupy it for several miles before you get a chance to pass them. Of course that happens everywhere but the Carolinas seem to be the worst for it.

That rule gets thrown out in highly congested traffic areas around large metropolitan cities. People tend to move to the lane that appears to be moving the fastest regardless of which one it is.

I live in NC, and almost every morning I get stuck behind some clueless lunk in the the left lane. And they like to ride door-to-door, that is, right beside the dude in the right lane… with neither of them going faster or slower than the other! And I find it’s more related to the road I’m on within the county, too. e.g US401 has the most mouth-breathing left-lane hogs in the county. But the folks on US1 tend to keep right. This may be that the part of US1 that I most-often travel is controlled-access and 401 isn’t. Drivers treat 401 like a big, long, 55mph boulevard instead of the highway it is.

Anecdotally, my friend has a Ford Crown Victoria. He says that when he travels throughout the state (and the country, I presume) that drivers will move right out of the left lane and let him by. This seems to say that folks WILL get out of the way for a faster car, but only if they think it’s a law enforcement officer. I read into that that when they don’t move over for the faster (non-LE) car, they’re just being inconsiderate.

If this one “courtesy” were practiced (using the left lane as the passing lane only), it would go miles in reducing road rage.

Yes, I see your point. But not all fast drivers, including myself, try to scare slow drivers. I give plenty of room for slower drivers to safely change to slower lane. To me, it’s all about getting through as smoothly as possible without getting erratic and into ugly situations. I do not like to drive zigzagging around like a jackass but sometimes situations calls for that kind of maneuver in order to lose the unwilling, rock in the middle of the road, drivers; many of these drivers show no inkling whatsoever to even budge. And not every time faster traffic can pass to the right. I’m a fast driver who takes what’s there. But when a slow driver in the passing lane matches the speed of slow lane traffic they entirely create an unbreakable block for miles. When two cars back to back do this, the blockage impedes a whole group of folks, often causing mile(s) long congestions that’s impossible to get through.

BTW staying in the fast/passing lane when faster traffic is behind you it is illegal by law as multi lane roads were created precisely to solve the type of bottle necks that inevitably occurs. When drivers refuse to use the passing lanes in the way they were originally intended, that causes problems/frustration/irritation that gets ugly, causes road rage and becomes dangerous. It is just the nature’s normal variation that some likes to walk fast and some don’t.

In everyday reality people lives through every imaginable scenarios and unexpected incidents, eg even perhaps taking someone with serious injury to hospitals to or about to have a baby and… everything else under the sun imaginable. The multi lane roads are exactly designed to alleviate the kind of bottlenecks.

I think it becomes, often, about, pride and unwarranted spirit of competition when none were intended by folks just trying to get to from point A to point B in a hurry for any one of unfathomable reasons life throws at them. Of course, it goes without saying there are plenty of speeders simply speeding and hotdogging just for the sake of being stupid assholes.

The Rules do change in heavy traffic. You have to stay in the correct lane in order to merge onto the correct roads. We have at least two major Intersections on interstates that merge from the left lanes. If you are in the right hand lane then you just screwed yourself. You have to drive ten miles to an exit and double back.

Also its just not practical to constantly shift from the left lane to the right when traffic is heavy. The left lanes become just another driving lane.

When traffic is light then I do move to the right for faster traffic.

Yes, that’s an exception, in city traffic, particularly when congested.

Here in CA, there’s no such thing on most freeways or highways. Yes, the furthest left lane is the “fast lane” and yes, “slower traffic should move right”, but there are damn few actual passing lanes where all a driver is allowed to do is pass.

I’ve noticed this too.

I’ve only been in CA once but oddly enough I didn’t experience a true situation of left-hand-lane hogging once. What I did experience is truckers who waited until the last second possible to occupy the left-hand-lane, forcing me to slam on my brakes as they passed the other truck. I think they’re just jealous that they are allowed to go 10mph slower than cars and so take it out on everyone else. What’s weird is that invariably, the trucks did pass and move over quite quickly.

Once or twice, it may have been a coincidence and not enough sample size. But it happened at least 3 times just driving though CA!

This is true. I grew up in southern California and never even heard a left lane referred to as a passing lane until I got married and moved to Ohio. There my (ex-) husband had fits that I would stay in a left lane as long as no one was driving faster than I was. I was supposed to keep weaving in and out of the left lane to pass people, which just seemed pointless.

Now I’m back in California, but in the northern central valley. The folks driving I-5 regularly are pretty good about moving over for faster traffic, at least between the cities. Maybe less so when things are getting close to congested.

When I was driving through rural Indiana/Illinois, people were conspicuously more likely to move over to the right lane when I was approaching behind them. It was very nice.

In the DC area, however, nobody moves. Ever. Even people going UNDER the limit in the left lane never move.

My feeling is that if somebody wants to drive faster than me, I am best off having them pass me on the left. I seldom give anybody a chance to pass me on the right.

I have decided that in all but the heaviest traffic, the best thing is to pass right with as little drama as possible. If I suddenly disappear from here, you will know I explained to the cop that stopped me for passing on the right that is isn’t my job to inforce the keep right laws.

It happens all too often. It only takes a few to make a congested mess.

How many lanes are we talking about? I’ve noticed that people in the Chicago suburbs are loath to get over, but the road I commute on every day is only a 4-lane local road (2 lanes each way). And it’s a very busy road–fucking jampacked, tbh. If everyone passed then got over to the right, there’d be a constant neverending flow of passing then getting over and braking (and, subsequently, fender benders). On a 4+ lane highway (like the toll road), I notice that slower traffic tends to keep right and get out of the way of faster traffic without a problem. But on smaller congested roads (of which there are FAR too many for such a busy area–yay for suburbs), the same rules don’t apply.

The left lane tends to travel faster than the right, but only because the route I travel lacks dedicated right turn lanes at most intersections (but does have dedicated left turn lanes). So people have to turn right from the main right lane. It sucks.

Correction since I missed the edit window: toll roads which are 8+ lanes (4 each way). Stupid terminology.

Og gawd yes! Except that sometimes on a two lane hwy they pass like a glacier.

When I lived in NJ people were pretty good about keeping right. I even saw a cop pull over a slow left lane driver once. In the Bay Area all bets are off. I’ve noticed that the left lane is often the slowest lane during commute time. On freeways, anyhow, all lanes are travel lanes and there is no passing on the right offense.
I think a big reason the left lane is so slow is that people push in and out of the car pool lane quite aggressively, and force those in the left non-carpool lane to brake.

Trucks are not allowed in the left lane, so that is no problem, but lots like to clog up the middle lane.

I’m surprised by the OP’s observation. While no place is perfect, my sense is that I’ve experienced this the least in Central Illinois, only slightly more in Chicago, and actuely problematic in the South (Tennessee, Georgia, and North Florida).

Perhaps it helps, although not in the OP’s estimation, that Illinois law reserves the left lane for passing only.