Left Lane Drivers


There is something beyond comprehension about a slow driver in the left lane.

source: traveltips.usatoday.com

source: traveltips.usatoday.com

Why in the name of everything holy and good do people feel the need to spread out into the passing lane even on a three lane highway if they are not intent on passing? They are aware that they are impeding the flow of traffic and yet they persist in this rude activity. They tend to ignore almost everything that would alert them to the fact that they shouldn’t be in that lane including flashing your lights, blowing your horn, and pulling close behind them with a line of a half dozen or more other ticked off drivers.

What it is that “drives” them to this type of antisocial behavior?  A few thoughts come to mind. Perhaps some are just clueless and feel the need to be as far left as they can be. Or maybe some are just so ticked off at the lives they have that they want to inflict discomfort on others. Could it be an issue of entitlement where they simply feel they own the road and the hell with anyone who doesn’t recognize it? Personally, I tend to think it’s what I refer to as the “Zoolander Effect” where they just can’t move from the left.

By Bob Riha Jr., USA TODAY

By Bob Riha Jr., USA TODAY

Sometimes when I do finally pass them I look over and see them texting and talking on their cell phones, adjusting something on their dashboard, grooming, putting on make-up, drinking, and/or eating. Its distracted driving at its worst and they always seem to get away with it.

The problem is that it is more than simply an annoying behavior. It’s dangerous. Often, it leads to what I call a clog on the highway where for some unholy reason the people in the other lanes to their right seem to decide to go exactly the same speed as the slow driver in the passing lane. This clog tends to back up the entire highway causing misery for everyone on that highway. There will be drivers who will choose to do extreme tailgating in order to intimidate the offending left lane slow poke into pulling over, but once again for some reason, they won’t budge from their offensive behavior. Inevitably some driver eventually will tend to act on their frustration at some point and engage in even more dangerous driving in an effort to break free of the clog. Its amazing that it doesn’t result in more accidents.

In Massachusetts, there are signs posted on the highways clearly stating that the left lane is only for passing. They take it to an extreme and will ticket you if you decide to stay in the left lane when there is no reason to be there. And they are right to do it.

Hard as it may seem to believe based on what we all see, there actually is a law in New York that states that you must keep to the right lanes when not passing, with some reasonable exceptions. You can look it up here: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/VAT/VII/25/1120  

So, why is it that people tend to ignore this law? It could be argued that most people are unaware of its existence. It wouldn’t hurt to see some signs alerting drivers on the highways here that clearly states that the left lane is only for passing.  Most of us would be delighted to see these signs on major arteries. Maybe it wouldn’t change the culture overnight, but it would be a good start. We all are aware that even nice people can become ticking time bombs when they are on the roads confronted with aggravating situations that can result in road rage. Let’s try to avoid this by following the lead of Massachusetts and try to end this annoyance.

Slow drivers in the left lane do not make good neighbors.




About Author

Jason Arthur Sapan, a resident of Greenburgh, is one of the pioneers of 3D laser holography and is the founder of the Holographic Studios in Manhattan. He has taught classes at major universities. Additionally, he works as a background actor on television and film. For a decade, he was co-chair of the citizen's budget committee of the Ardsley School District. Sapan is also an avid sailor, docking his boat in Tarrytown. At home, he grows an organic garden and enjoys the culinary arts.


  1. I drive a lot and and share your frustration, Jason. In fact, I don’t disagree with a word here. I would add, however, that there is a spill-over effect. People get frustrated with left-lane hogs and take that frustration out on any driver they see in the left lane. I’ve been in a position of using the left lane to pass and had someone behind me tailgate, flash, honk and, in a favorite move, dart around me at close proximity as soon as the opportunity presents. Without incriminating myself, I’ll just say it doesn’t always matter that you’re going well over the speed limit in the left lane or that you speed up considerably from there in an effort to clear the way. There seems to be a resentment with some people that you deigned to use the left lane at all. The bigger problem is aggressive driving, which occurs in all lanes and includes the passive aggressive folks you describe here. I’m ready for my driverless car as soon as the folks at Tesla and Google have it ready.

    • Its interesting how getting behind the wheel of a car can turn people in schizophrenics with their personalities morphing into something less than their better angels. The same person who will drive in a dangerous aggressive manner on the road might very well be the first person walking on a sidewalk to stop and help you up if you slipped and fell on the ice. Once again, irony is the one thing that is dependable when it comes to humanity.

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