General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Too much to ask for people to, at least, drive the speed limit?

Asked by tinyfaery (43929points) June 22nd, 2008

Ok. I understand if you only want to go 65 (speed limit in L.A.) on the freeway; maybe you are paranoid about cops, or really want to save gas. But, is it really necessary to drive 55, or 50, or less, on the freeway. And why in the left lanes? In my opinion this jeopardizes the safety of all drivers, even the slow pokes. Is there any good reason to drive less than the speed limit? And if there is, or you think there is, I think we must consider whether or not this person should be driving.

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33 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Speed limit means just that—the upper limit at which you can legally drive. Some highways have posted minimum speeds. Drivers are free to travel any speed between the two. Since the gas savings between 55 and 65 MPH is significant, I can see why people may well have gone back to it.

As to the left lane, conventionally it is the passing lane and should be kept open for cars going faster to pass slower traffic. More and more drivers ignore that convention to the detriment of all these days, which encourages speeders to recklessly pass on the right and weave in and out of traffic.

I have never seen a sign that says left lane reserved for the people who go as fast as tinyfaery thinks they should.

girlofscience's avatar

@Marina: I have seen signs indicating that the left lane is for “passing.” On the highways with which I’m familiar, this usually means that you’re going upwards of 70.

tinyfaery's avatar

Marina. I never implied that people should go 95. Instance: I am getting on the freeway. Someone in the merging lane is going 50. Everyone is passing quickly in the 3rd lane. I can’t speed up to get over, and am stuck behind a driver going 50, and being passed by everyone going 70. People are coming up behind me quickly, and this puts me in a dangerous situation. Do you drive in L.A.? Traffic laws and reality do not coincide. If someone must go 50, may I suggest they take the street, or carpool with drivers who are more comfortable in traffic?

Knotmyday's avatar

I get the sneaking suspicion sometimes that the slow driver in the “fast lane” is trying to make some kind of gas-consumption activist point.
Kind of irritating, especially when my Prius gets that hankerin’ for a hunk of cheese.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I have driven in LA quite a bit. I prefer it to New York or Boston.

Seesul's avatar

My sister calls them “wind driven cars”. I think some of them are leftovers from when the max speed limit was 55.

marinelife's avatar

@girlofscience You have a point re the speed one is gong when passing, which I have no problem with. My point was that people going all sorts of speeds ride the left lane instead of using it exclusively for passing.

@tinyfaery I see your point, but as long as someone is going legal speed (and the right or merging lane is the slow lane) the person on the freeway has the right of way. It is up to the merger (you) to match their speed and “basketweave” safely on. Does that mean people could not hve a clue in the merging lane and accommodate incomng traffic? Sure, but courtesy as a rule has gone out the window on the road more’s the pity.

loser's avatar

well, yeah

wildflower's avatar

Unless you’re driving on the autobahn in Germany, you should, at most (not least), drive as fast as the speed limit. As Marina pointed out, that is the nature of speed limits.

El_Cadejo's avatar

In NJ left lane is a passing only lane, and you can get a ticket for just driving in that lane. It seems like Penn drivers are always in the left lane and going 5 under the limit. I dont have a problem with people driving slow, but just stay the hell out of my way, and stick to the right.

Trance24's avatar

@Uber I second that motion.

Seesul's avatar

From the CA State Driver Handbook:

“Reduced Speeds

Heavy traffic or bad weather

You must drive slower when there is heavy traffic or bad weather. However, if you block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic by driving too slowly, you may be given a ticket. If you choose to drive slower than other traffic, do not drive in the “No. 1” (fast) lane. (more information on lane choice ) Always move to the right when another driver is close behind you and wishes to drive faster.”

The majority of the time, LA has what is considered heavy traffic.

Seesul's avatar

More on appropriate lanes from the CA SD Handbook:

“Choosing A Lane

Traffic lanes are often referred to by number. The left or “fast” lane is called the “No. 1 Lane.” The lanes to the right of the No. 1 lane are called the No. 2 lane, then the No. 3 lane. etc.

Example of numbered traffic lanes

Drive in the lane with the smoothest flow of traffic. If you can choose among three lanes, pick the middle lane for the smoothest driving. To drive faster, pass, or turn left, use the left lane. When you choose to drive slowly or enter or turn off the road, use the right lane.

If there are only two lanes in your direction, pick the right lane for the smoothest driving.

Don’t weave in and out of traffic. Stay in one lane as much as possible. Once you start through an intersection, keep going. If you start to make a turn, follow through. Last second changes may cause accidents. If you missed a turn, continue to the next intersection and work your way back to where you want to go.”

skwerl88's avatar

Actually, by driving slowly in areas where traffic naturally flows quickly (whether or not the speed limit designates one to do so) one increases the likelihood of an accident equal to an overly aggressive driver in a slower flowing area.

By speeding to keep up with traffic, you’re being predictable, and thus not interrupting the flow. When considering traffic, flow must be kept in mind—for flow is what designates traffic. Perfect flow yields 0 accidents by definition, thus by striving to achieve perfect flow by conforming to the traffic around you, you’re decreasing accidents.

At least, that’s my argument when I get pulled over… I haven’t gotten a ticket yet.

marinelife's avatar

A driving teacher told me to drive a slightly off speed. For example, go 58 in a 60 MPH zone. This works really well leaving one sitting between two packs of traffic. I think it is much safer than driving bunched up with other people.

I also use my cruise control whenever possible. Until you do that, you have no idea how much people are speeding up and slowing down. I bet many of them think they are driving at a set speed too.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Marina i know exactly what you mean about cruise control. Its rather annoying to try and use it around other cars, because you have to constantly turn it off because some assholes slowing down in front of you for no reason at all.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

…because they think their POS is fast.
My solution: I have a siren in my car and get people to move out of the way.

edmartin101's avatar

The unwritten law says: if you are driving less than the speed limit and you are holding traffic then you in violation of the traffic code. Once while driving North on the 101 Fwy, a cop pulled a guy in front of me, there were seven cars behind me trying to pass and this clown in front of me was driving at 60mph. So you may say he was right on the speed according to the written law, but he was in violation because he was holding traffic in the fast lane. Our society is full of exceptions, huh!!

Seesul's avatar

what lane was he in, ed?

edmartin101's avatar

he was in the fast lane

Seesul's avatar

If I’m understanding you correctly, then it isn’t an unwritten law, if you look at my first post above and the section I stressed, it says: ” Always move to the right when another driver is close behind you and wishes to drive faster.” So, if he was in the fast lane, he was in violation of the California vehicle code. in other words, if even if you are driving the speed limit, if you are holding up traffic in other than the far right lane, you have to pull over to the slow lane and let the others pass.

Frustrating isn’t it?

majoski's avatar

It’s not frustrating, it’s logical, it’s un-selfish, it’s the law and it’s proper driving…take a trip to Europe some day and see how nice the highways flow when people know how to drive and it’s not just Germany, you’ll see it all over including Italy…when you get on the freeway and find youself desperately moving to the left…stop and ask yourself why you’re doing it…only move left to pass and then move back to the right, there is no logical reason not to do this other than being stubborn, selfish and/or ignorant, it cost you nothing to keep right…if you need more reasons look up how many billions of dollars are lost in CA alone due to lack of productivity related to traffic, and that causes us to spend billions to add lanes to the highways…back to Europe you will be amazed how efficiently traffic flows when people keep to the right except for passing

21654. (a) Notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits, any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(b) If a vehicle is being driven at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time, and is not being driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, it shall constitute prima facie evidence that the driver is operating the vehicle in violation of subdivision (a) of this section.

Kraigmo's avatar

There is no logic whatsoever to drive in the left lane at a speed slower (or same as) the traffic in the lane to one’s right.

There is only ego involved. “The speed limit is 65, i’m going 65, so I’m fine” <—that kind of childish attitude

The road is no place for ego. It’s a place for flow, rhythm, and science. Everything works fine, so long as people never go in the left 2 lanes, UNLESS they are driving faster than the traffic to their right. Assuming the traffic is moving, of course.

Sometimes there’s a situation where a driver wants to drive faster than the cars on his right, but the car behind him wants to go faster yet, still. In this scenario, the car in the rear needs to slow down and be patient till the car in front of him has passed all slow cars, then moved to the right. Traffic would flow perfectly if everyone behaved according to these (understood by some) rules.

But to drive in the left lane, blocking cars behind you, with cars on your right passing you… that’s just childish, egregious, stupid behavior. Drivers like that deserve any bad that comes to them, because their behavior causes chaos, and serves no legitimate function.

Driving in the far left lane just because “i feel like it”, and for no other reason, is a sign of a very stupid person.

perplexed82's avatar

tinyfaery, I just asked a similar question.
A lot of people got pretty riled up and think apparently it’s a lot safer for people to disrupt the flow of traffic rather than speed. Neither are acceptable but the slowpokes seem to be excused more. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the slower, inexperienced drivers enrage hostile drivers who take out their road rage on people like us!

OneBadApple's avatar

In no place else that I’ve ever driven (and that’s a lot of places) are so many people in love with the left lane as they are here in Central Florida. They even broadcast their stupidity by proclaiming in the local paper that “as long as I’m doing the speed limit, I’ll drive in any lane that I want…”

No, no, and no.

So we always have about two-thirds of the drivers in the left lane putt-putting along with their heads up their asses, and the other third first riding their bumpers, trying to make them move over, then eventually becoming frustrated enough to change lanes and pass on the right, forcing everyone in the right lane(s) to adjust to that.

The right lane is called the ‘travel lane’ for a reason. The left lane is called the ‘passing lane’ for a reason.

This isn’t complicated stuff. It really isn’t….

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ It was put before Jeb Bush to begin actual enforecment of “slower traffic keep right.”

He vetoed it.

He will never get my vote again.

GA, you described the situation there perfectly.

OneBadApple's avatar

@SecondHandStoke It has always been my policy to never vote for any Bush during any election, in any location, under any circumstances….

SecondHandStoke's avatar


If that’s your policy I can accept it.

Once in my voting life I wasn’t crazy about the Bush but there wasn’t even close to an acceptable alternative.

OneBadApple's avatar

Well… could have just stayed home…

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ Can’t do that.

If I don’t participate in the process I don’t have any right to bitch.

Besides, I have to cancel out my wife’s likely ballot.

OneBadApple's avatar

Or she must cancel-out yours….

SecondHandStoke's avatar


Sharing life with someone who’s such an opposite in her personal policy sometimes gets a little weird. But to me true love is a far more important aspect of life.

I don’t reveal my voting choices to people I know. She does the same with me since I told her I don’t need or want to know.

We have an agreement to avoid political discussion though sometimes we both slip.

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