Tuesday, July 04, 2006

please be rude

My trip to Flagstaff and back were my first real road trips in California in decades (I'm not counting the time I drove out here in a U Haul with my car on a trailer). I'm taking back a lot of the nice things I've said about California drivers. I've been saying that California drivers know how to drive on a freeway better than Arizona drivers; they know where the gas pedal is and they know to stay out of the freaking fast lane if they aren't going freaking fast.

But now I'm thinking that this favorable impression was just because I've been driving on city freeways. On the highway, California drivers are just as annoying as Arizona drivers, if in a different way. In Arizona, you have people who just drive in the left lane, with no idea that the lane is for passing. In California, people know that the left lane is for passing, but they camp out in it anyway because they intend to pass that truck up there in the next twenty minutes or so and they don't want to get caught in the wrong lane. Arizona drivers tend not to think about getting caught in the wrong lane, so if random circumstances find them in the right lane, they tend to stay there.

The problem with California drivers is that they know you aren't supposed to pass on the right and they get upset if you do it. They see you coming and accelerate to keep you from passing. So you have long lines of ten or twenty cars camping out in the left lane because there is a truck way up ahead somewhere, and there is no one in the right lane because if anyone tries to fill out the right lane, they get frozen out. So there is no opportunity to sort out the cars by speed and the entire line is held to the speed of the slowest idiot, and huge traffic jams form on highways that don't really have much traffic.

By contrast, the randomness of the Arizona idiocy keeps the size of the blockades down to a smaller size, but it's not better because you are a lot more likely to have two people driving side by side at exactly the same speed for miles.

UPDATE: I just realized that the post title doesn't make sense because I left something out... The point is that if the faster drivers would be rude enough to pass the slower drivers on the right, these huge traffic jams wouldn't develop. OK?

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