Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Opinion: Left-lane Bandits Cause Congestion

Drivers need better education about freeway lane use.

by on Feb.28, 2011

Left-lane drivers making you crazy? Left Lane Drivers of America sells window stickers designed to encourage left-lane bandits to use the other lane.

For the first time in my career, I’m commuting by freeway and it’s not pretty.

Every day, I travel a 30-mile section of freeway, some of it six lanes, but mostly four, meaning there are three or two lanes going each way. So what have I learned during all this driving?

This country has a serious need for improved driver education. People don’t know how to drive and the problem really comes to light at 80 mph.

Battling for the Left Lane!

The biggest issue is that many drivers all but refuse to leave the left lane. Drive up behind these people, even flash your lights, and they just refuse to leave the left lane. It’s a laziness issue. Stay in the left lane and you rarely have to change lanes. Talk on your cellphone and you can basically put the car on autopilot. Just steer through the curves and tap the brakes in those rare instances when you have to slow down.

But it also seems to be a matter of obstinance. It’s as if they believe they have a God-given right to occupy the left lane, no matter how slow they are going and not matter how many cars are stacked up behind them.

So what’s the big deal? What does it matter which lane you use? The big reason is it slows down traffic. This is a major reason for congestion on America’s freeways. In fact, our freeways would have more capacity and less congestion if drivers would use the left lane for passing and the right lane for traveling.

There are signs posted that read “KEEP RIGHT, IT’S THE LAW” but when’s the last time you heard of someone getting a ticket for improper lane usage? Instead, law enforcement seems more interested in writing tickets for excessive speed, even though the best drivers know that the dangerous drivers are the ones driving slower than the flow of traffic.

But in reality, those who park themselves in the left lane are most dangerous.

Let’s say you come up behind someone in the left lane who is going slower than you. You flash to pass, but they don’t budge. There’s a car in the right lane, but not enough room for you to get into that lane to pass on the right. Finally, the left-lane bandit gets far enough past the car in the right lane for you to get into the right lane. But the bandit is closing on the next car in the right lane, leaving you with a small window to get past them.

The other option is to sit behind the left-lane bandit for several miles, while even more cars pile up behind you.

If that driver would move to the right lane, traffic would flow better and our freeways would be less congested.

If you’re reading this you’re most likely not a left-lane bandit, so this is really just preaching to the choir. But fixing the problem has to start somewhere.

Interested in doing something about it? Go to to learn about what you can do to further the cause.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Opinion: Left-lane Bandits Cause Congestion”

  1. TomKelley says:

    Didn’t Brock Yates write this same basic article, sans cellphones/texting of course, about 40 years ago in one of the buff-books?

    I guess that means the problem will still be with us 40 years from now, right?

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      Ah, Tom, you’ve been around long enough in this business to know yesterday’s news will likely become a story again…eventually…and nowhere more so than in the auto world. But I do believe that cellphones, hybrids and the more fanatical greenies have made the problem worse than when Brock first wrote about it.
      Paul A. Eisenstein