What's up with middle lane meanderers?

So I have a mild pitting of drivers who loaf around in the center lane of a three-lane highway. Particular the ones who are driving at speeds well below the posted speed limit, with folks passing them on both sides, if we’re lucky, and if we’re unlucky, they have a train of cars following them and the car they decided to keep pace with in the right lane.

So why am I pitting them? There’s another lane to the left, right? Well, if you see the signs on the left side of the highway, they clearly state that trucks may not use the left-hand lane at all, for any purpose. That means that for those in that category, the center lane is the passing lane. And yet there they sit, ignorantly obstructing traffic, going 50 in a 70 zone, holding up a convoy of trucks, totally ignoring the “keep right except to pass” signs that are posted all over the highway up here. I notice they tend to make a beeline for the middle as soon as they get on the highway, regardless of traffic. What the hell ails these people?

I think they actually create more problems on the highways than left lane hogs, just because of the sheer number of them. People who are using the lanes properly often have to go across two lanes of traffic just to get by them. The police seem to actually enforce the law regarding the left lane, but people obstructing traffic in the middle seem to get a pass, for some reason, even though the law requires everyone to be all the way to the right unless actively in the process of overtaking slower traffic (cite).

Really folks, it’s not a hard law to follow. Stay in the right-most lane, use the center and left lanes as necessary to overtake slower cars, and then move immediately back to the right when you are safely clear of the slower cars. If you are being passed on the right, or are keeping an even pace with the cars on your right, you are in the wrong lane.

I like to stay out of the right lane to help lave space for traffic merging onto the highway.

Making room for mergers as need be is fine. That’s just basic courtesy, in my opinion. Doing 20 below the limit all day long in the middle lane when there is no merging traffic for miles around is just not cool.

Cite? In 47 years of driving I can’t recall ever seeing that.

Neither can I.

Neither have I. I only rarely see a middle lane parker going slower than 5 under.


A cite for the existence of people who drive slowly in the center lane? I’m afraid all I can offer there is my own personal experience. Particularly on the 12 hour road trip I took across New England this weekend.

A cite for the laws? I linked the statute for Maine above. This is the text:

(Emphasis added)

New Hampshire

(Emphasis Added)

(Emphasis added again)

I can believe that you may have never read the actual statutes before, most states have some variation of this rule, although a few of them don’t. But surely, in over 40 years of driving, you must have seen the black and white regulatory signs posted that read either “KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS” or “SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT.” They are nearly ubiquitous on multiple lane highways. I think we can all agree that someone going 50 in a 70 zone on a clear sunny day definitely counts as the “slower traffic” that is commanded to keep right by the second sign.

Leave space in front of you.

This isn’t a problem in my experience either. Occasionally there will be a big truck doing close to or slightly under the speed limit in the center or left lane for an extended period, for no apparent reason. But 20 mph under the limit? Nope.

I fully support this pitting. I see these idiots in New England all the time.

What’s even worse is when we have a a temporary third lane added for uphill gradients that are clearly marked for “SLOW DRIVERS ONLY,” and these idiots fail to use them. So instead we get the maniacs who use them to pass everyone on the right at 90 mph. Or normal drivers get tempted to use them as they sit empty because the slowpokes are sitting in the middle lane and passing lane. (Personally, the thought of doing this almost makes me physically ill after my experience driving on the Autobahn in Germany, in which passing on the right is strictly forbidden.)

I avoid the right lane for this specific reason- when I’m near an interchange.

This may be a New England thing. I drove from Berkeley to St. Paul a few years ago going the speed limit and only passed two vehicles the entire way; all the rest passed me. Driving around town now, going the speed limit in the slow lane, I almost never pass people, but people pass me all the time.

I’ll stay in the right hand lane except when passing on long stretches of road with no exits, yes.

IME, which obviously doesn’t cover every road in the world, such roads are rarely three or more lanes in each direction. Generally once the road comes out of the congested area it drops to two lanes each way even for major highways, unless there are steep hills in which case sometimes an extra lane appears.

Usually when I see that many lanes it’s on a busy stretch of road with frequent exits, often including both right-hand and left-hand exits. In those situations, I’ll stay in the center lane if possible to allow traffic that’s trying to get on and off the road to use the edge lanes. I’ll especially do this if I don’t know the road well, since I may not know whether my own next move will need to be to the left or the right.

I do try to keep up with traffic; but if possible I also like to allow some space between me and the car in front of me. If there’s much traffic usually somebody else moves into that space, though. It’s not possible to keep proper spacing when the rest of the traffic’s not cooperating.

My commute to work is about 25 miles each way, about half on an interstate as described in the OP. I go right for the center lane, the through lane (IMHO). The right lane is for people merging in and getting off. The left lane is for people wanting to pass the people in the center lane. I rarely see anyone in the center lane going under the speed limit. Typically it is travelling at or 5-10 miles over. What I see over and over is someone comes flying up behind me, often way over the speed limit and instead of passing on the left they try to pass on the right and then have to slow way down due to the heavy traffic merging into morning rush hour traffic. It is completely counter productive. It seems nuts but I see it over and over. Why not pass in the sparsely populated left lane and go faster instead of being forced to slow down in the right lane?

I just drove about 1200 miles in the Baltimore/DC area and I saw this all the time. Not being familiar with the area, I kept thinking maybe the speed limit had dropped to 50 and I just didn’t notice. A check of the GPS and signs would assure me it was still 65, and I’d pass.

I was guilty of it once there, but I have excuse the speed limit was 50, and I was following an unmarked police car. It really upset the people a few cars back, because as soon as somebody would go to pass me, they’d inexplicably (to the cars further back) slow down and start pacing me.

My route to Hartford, Connecticut involves I-295, I-95, I-495, I-90, and I-84. Once I-295 joins back up with I-95 in Scarborough, Maine, it’s six-lane highway all the way until I leave I-84 in Hartford. While there are a few heavy merge areas that might warrant keeping to the center lane for a bit, there are also large stretches of highway in between where there are no entrances. Yet folks dawdle in the middle lanes regardless. You can always tell when you’re catching up to one, before you even see them, because you start to see more disorderly and chaotic behavior on the road in front of you where everything was smooth and orderly beforehand. Like I said, I’m actually starting to think that these middle lane loafers are more of a hazard than left lane hogs, just because they outnumber left lane hogs about 20 to 1 on New England’s highways.

And robby is spot on about slow drivers not using the temporary uphill slow lanes. They cannot or will not maintain the speed limit up the steep hills, which is why they have their own dedicated lane, because mixing 30 mile per hour traffic in with 65 mile per hour traffic is dangerous. But that only works when the folks doing 30 miles per hour actually use the lane that is purposed just for them! But nope, the whole damn highway is doing 30 and 35 miles per hour until we get over the hill, because heaven forbid they have to merge back in when the slow lane ends. :rolleyes:

Every freaking day I see it. It drives me crazy. As if there’s not enough traffic problems around here already. If you don’t want to drive the prevailing rate of speed (or the speed limit, whichever you prefer) get off of the freeway.

This may be a clue.

I live in the Pacific Northwest (western Washington). We have some awful traffic in the Seattle area and I’m frequently frustrated by idiotic driving I see a lot (or barely survive) but this isn’t a thing here.

I guess if you’re Pitting something unusual that only exists in your tiny part of the world it helps to mention that. I could Pit geoducks for looking like mutant penis monsters and I’m sure most people would have no clue what I’m blabbing about.

I prefer the term “middle-lane malingerers.”

Ooh, I’m trademarking “midlingerers” for my New England t-shirt business I will open up in my dreams.