There are basically two types of drivers in the world: there are people who get really upset at the drivers traveling slowly in the left lane, and then there are a lot of drivers who are unaware this is even a problem and don’t realize they are actually more likely to cause a car accident.
The fact of the matter is when drivers hang out in the left lane it makes traffic worse and more dangerous for everybody involved.
If you have relatively slow drivers scattered amongst the left and right lanes, faster drivers have to repeatedly slow down and weave back and forth, changing lanes many times to pass all of them.
If a driver is moving at speeds five miles per hour slower than everyone else and traveling in the left lane, it forces faster drivers to make dangerous moves trying to pass them on the right – which is more likely to cause a car accident in Dallas.
There is a better way for traffic to flow – that is if we only use the left lane for passing.
If all of the slower drivers are in the right lane, a faster driver can pass several at once, then get back over to the right. This cuts down on the total number of lane changes and eliminates the slow downs.
Some people argue that as long as they are going the speed limit they shouldn’t have to move over, but there is evidence that shows slowing down and changing lanes is actually more dangerous than speeding.
Research has shown the strongest predictor of an accident is variance from the average speed of traffic. A car traveling five miles per hour slower than the surrounding traffic has a greater chance of causing an accident than one going five miles per hour faster.
For this reason, every state has some law on record that restricts the use of the left lane.
In 29 states, any car that is moving slower than the surrounding speed of traffic should be in the right lane and in 11 states the laws are stricter where the left lane is only for turning or passing.
Historically police have not paid much attention to slower left lane drivers, but recently there have been campaigns in states such as Washington, Texas and Ohio where police have been issuing tickets to people they spot traveling slowly in the left lane.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
A great example of this is the German Autobahn, which is Germany’s highway network that has long stretches of road without speed limits and has surprisingly low car accident rates.
One reason for the lower accident rate, some researchers think, is that German drivers are more likely to stay in the right lane for traveling and only use the left lane for passing. This shared norm helps keep them safe.
If more people understand how this works, together we can have fewer traffic jams and decrease the accident rate making our Dallas Metroplex roads much safer.