Life in the Fast Lane

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2002

By By Lloyd Albritton
I know most people will disagree with me on this, but I think I'm right and I'll tell you why. OK, here's the deal: The interstates and major roadways these days have a fast lane and a slow lane. Some of them even have three, four, and even more lanes, with the lanes to the left designated for passing, or faster driving.
Sometimes people get over into the left lane and poke along when they should be poking along in the right lane. And sometimes these people poke along in the fast lane with their minds out of gear. They go along for miles without checking their rear view mirrors, with cars continuously piling up behind them. Most of the time, the faster traffic simply moves over to the right lane and passes without any exhibition of anger or road rage. But, sometimes these people get real mad.
Now, I know that most of you who are reading this will recognize the above described scenario and will immediately identify with the driver in the rear who has to slow down and break cruise control for the slow poke idiot who is holding up the traffic. But I'll bet none of you will admit to ever being the idiot.
Well, I do confess, that is, that I am sometimes the slow poke idiot poking along in the fast lane. People regularly blow their horns and flash their lights at me and race by as if they are going to a fire, sometimes even shaking an angry fist in the air as they zoom ahead. I don't blame them. I take my medicine like a man because I know I should have been paying closer attention to my driving and that this is a pet peeve of many drivers and is extremely aggravating.
There are other times, however, when I drive in the fast lane at speeds way over the posted speed limit. I know if I get a ticket for speeding I will be guilty of exceeding the posted speed limit, and I won't argue if that happens. I'll take my ticket like a man because I know that the posted speed limit is the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is 65 mph, then it's 65 mph for everyone driving in all lanes of traffic. The designated "fast lanes" of traffic are not designated for those who are in a hurry and want to drive faster than the posted speed limit. They are designated for passing those in the far right lanes of traffic who are driving slower than the posted speed limit.
We all find it necessary from time to time to exceed the speed limit temporarily to get past a car driving, say 68 mph, in a 70 mph zone. I think most traffic officers would let us get away with that much, but it's a discretionary thing. Most people believe they won't get a speeding ticket on the freeways as long as they don't exceed the posted speed limit by more than 5-10 mph. That's a rule-of-thumb, discretionary thing too. Technically, however, we are not justified under the law when we exceed the posted speed limit, whether to pass another car or to stay with the flow of traffic. To quote my favorite comedian, Ross Perot, "Stay with me on this now!" I think I'm right, but if you disagree, check with someone you know who is a Highway Patrolman or Traffic Officer and ask him about it. Or better yet, get yourself a Driver's Handbook from The Department of Public Safety and read it. 'I didn't ask anybody about it myself, but it just makes sense and I really do believe you'll find that I'm right on this.
Now, finally I come to the thing that's bothering me . Here's what happened: I was cruising down the interstate the other day at 80 mph in the fast lane with my cruise control set, just sailing along as pretty as you please in a clearly posted 65 mph zone. That's a solid 15 mph over the posted speed limit, in case you didn't know. When I looked up into my rear view mirror I saw the grill of this big black Expedition right on my tail. Now I don't like cars following me that close, so as soon as I saw it I started to move over to the right lane so the car could get by. Before I could make the lane change, however, the car quickly zoomed up beside me in the right lane. I looked over and a little bitty woman, perhaps in her twenties or thirties, with a short, perky hairdo, had actually turned in her seat to face me through her closed window. She was waving her arms about, screaming ninety miles an hour and shaking her fist at me. She looked real mad! I don't read lips too good, but it looked like she was saying something about her mother having fun, or something like that, while she held up one finger toward me, apparently to express the belief that her mother was Number One. Her index finger must have been injured or something because she was using her center finger. I have no idea what her mother had to do with all of this, but that's what she did. In any event, this angry little lady cussed and shook her fist at me for a few brief seconds, then hit her passing gear and moved on ahead and quickly out of site at a speed of about 600 mph.
After witnessing such outrageous behavior, I'll admit I was starting to feel a little road rage myself. I would not be too concerned over this single incident except that I see this sort of driving behavior a lot. It does not seem to matter how fast I drive, or which lane I drive in, there is always someone on my rear end wanting to get by. I think I'll start driving on the shoulder and see what happens. I'm sure I'll get a ticket, but what're you gonna do? Everybody's driving too fast and everybody's mad about something. It's a jungle out there folks!

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