Vail Valley Voices: Lurkers hold up left lane
Vail, CO, Colorado
I have a gripe about bad drivers.
I realize that my complaint is not at all original, being possibly the No. 1 topic that people whine about.
I also realize that just as 90 percent of all parents think their children are above average, the same percentage of people are certain that they are above-average drivers and thus do not take kindly to criticism of their driving skills.
Nevertheless, if this essay can influence just one person and result in greater safety on our highways, it will be a worthwhile effort.
Actually, I must confess that my motives are entirely self-serving: I just want to be able to drive faster to Denver.
While driving recently to Denver in a blizzard, my progress was repeatedly hindered by drivers camping out in the left lane. For every car in the right lane, there were 20 in the left. It was as though the right lane was closed to all vehicles except 18-wheelers and malfunctioning U-Hauls.
Our representatives in Washington are very busy getting re-elected and trying to solve the economic crisis, but I feel that the next bill to be introduced in Congress should be a requirement that every car have a small screen on the dashboard that would allow each driver to communicate with others.
With this wonderful invention in place, if I were following an auto that had been going 53 mph in the left lane for the past 20 miles, I would merely have to press a button in my car, and the dashboard screen in the car ahead would light up, saying, “Pardon me, gentle driver. Could you be so kind as to move your car to the right lane when quite convenient? Forgive me, but I am in a bit of a
If the driver had difficulty sensing the urgency of my subtle entreaty, a second message could be sent that would slightly raise the intensity of my plea, such as, “Move over, you idiot!”
You may protest that installing such a message screen would be a ridiculous idea, but it is no more ridiculous and definitely safer than the current method of telling a driver that you want them to move over: putting your bumper 7 inches from theirs.
Even if I am late for the opening kickoff at a Broncos game, I am not going to endanger myself by almost kissing someone else’s bumper, and so we have a failure to communicate.
The driver in front sees that I am 100 feet behind them and assumes this means that I am very happy with the speed they are going, and thus they continue living in Leftlania.
Meanwhile, the guy behind me is 7 inches from my bumper.
This left-lane paralysis has become worse in recent years. We all are aware of the distracting effect of cell-phone use while driving, but there has been little discussion of zoning out due to the excellent tunes on classic-rock stations. When a driver is grooving to Zeppelin or The Who, it is understandable that they would not want to break the magic by glancing in their mirror.
Another highway clogger is the near-universal fear of huge trucks. No one enjoys having the dark shadow of an 18-wheeler fill the rearview mirror, but in recent years this anxiety has grown into semiphobia. People have such a dread of big rigs and their Winston-smoking jockeys that many motorists refuse to ever venture into the right lane, where these sinister trucks normally hang out.
Thank you for listening to my rant. I know that I am not without sin when it comes to being a road hog. I would like to make a deal: If you promise to turn down the Stones and check your mirrors a little more often, I vow to stay off my cell phone and spend more time in the trucker lane.
Let there be less cussing and more peace on the highway.
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