Thursday, June 22, 2017

Driving in the Left Lane

Have you ever asked a family member, friend or acquaintance about his or her driving abilities?  More to the point, has anyone ever responded in the negative?  I can't recall a single soul ever admitting that his driving abilities were sub-par.  Nevertheless, isn't it axiomatic that half of the drivers are below average?  For that matter, I may be one of them.  No, that couldn't be.  Could it?

Each driver holding a valid license has passed a driver's test (lo those many years ago for me), so we share the view that there is an underlying knowledge of the traffic laws, but then there are the unwritten rules of the road.   Do we on occasion roll through a Stop sign or dial in cruise control at five miles per hour above the posted limit?  Of course we do, which in its purest sense makes us scofflaws, though I make no admissions here against my own interests.  How then can we/I reconcile these shortcomings with those I am about to excoriate?  Hypocrisy?  I’d hate that for certain, but take a look and you be the judge and jury (and executioner if necessary).  Strap on your seatbelts.  Please.

The thing is, I have spent more hours than I can recall in the past decades driving from the Denver International Airport west to the majestic Rockies and the ski mountains nestled therein.  Regrettably I also have to make the return trip.  The drive generally ranges from an hour and a half to two hours, give or take, but I’ve done a fiver as well.  The Rocky Mountains are my happy place and have been so since I was a child.  However, getting from point A to point B and back is not at all smiles, all the time.  Why, you might ask?  Well, the answer is a simple one, i.e. some drivers in Colorado.  Notice that I don't impugn all resident Coloradans, only some drivers on Interstate 70.  It's a fine point.  More to follow.

Quite often I make the trek up to the mountains solo, meaning I have time to kill and the balls inside my head just bounce around.  In any event, during these frequent migrations I have concluded that a large percentage of drivers in fact do not understand the aforementioned rules of the road, encoded or otherwise.  Whether resulting from arrogance or ignorance, drivers constantly park themselves in the left lane of I-70 and absolutely refuse to pull to the right to allow passage of faster vehicles.  They do so irrespective of the length of a line of vehicles behind them.  They do so in white-out blizzards and when the sun shines brightly on dry pavement.  They do so in the light of day, at dusk as well as in the dark of night.  Nothing will dissuade them from their appointed mission.  Not a flick of the bright lights, a toot of the horn or a bit of gentle tailgating will cause them to take the hint.

 How about reading the Colorado statute which dictates:  “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed limit is sixty-five miles per hour or more unless such person is passing other motor vehicles that are in a non-passing lane or turning left, or unless the volume of traffic does not permit the motor vehicle to safely merge into a non-passing lane.”  IT’S THE LAW. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s only when the limit is at least 65 mph, but should the logic disappear if the limit it only 60 or 55?   It's as puzzling as it is maddening and I suspect enforcement is next to nil.  

The worst offenders?  In my unscientific poll, those who are runners-up to the most frequent Riders in the Left Lane Under the Posted Speed Limit are those driving (a) pickup trucks; (b) the estimable Toyota Prius, or; (c) those who come from warmer climes to ski and somehow believe that a nice rear-wheel drive sedan is just the ticket for winter mountain driving.  The winner and grand champion, however, is that ideal of the Colorado driver:  The one behind the wheel of--wait for it, wait—the Subaru.  And they are everywhere.

It appears that the glut of new residents who have migrated to Colorado over the past decade from hither and yon have all concluded that owning a four-wheel-drive Subaru is tantamount to being indestructible, with the ability to negotiate any amount of snow despite being four inches off the ground.  They seem to believe they can take their Subarus and leap tall buildings with a single bound.  But don't let’s forget about the moral superiority evidenced by this behavior as well.  Am I wrong?  Make no mistake, however, about my view of the Subaru vehicle in general.  All the way back in 1986, prior to the child explosion in our family, we owned a Subaru something or other wagon.  It wasn't my idea, but I had nothing against the car or the manufacturer.  In fact, while I never drove the wagon on a regular basis as it was the ‘first baby’ limo, I recall it being a nice ride overall.  That was then.  The same holds true today if I correctly read the reviews.  

However (and there is always a ‘however’ in life), the Colorado Subaru drivers on I-70?  Yeah, not so much.  The give the cars a bad name.  My universe of testing embodies those who travel that inestimable route from Denver to Vail and beyond.  This narrow sampling, however, leads to inescapable conclusions, i.e. that for reasons I cannot yet clinically determine (though I am working on an algorithm), Subaru drivers love the left lane of multi-lane highways in Colorado.  Why you ask? Not a clue.  I cannot fathom the reason other than what I have set out herein. 

So, my plea to those drivers I have impugned, following are a few suggestions to ponder:  (a)  read the Colorado law, and/or; (b) get past the moral superiority of determining the proper speed limit for the rest of us, and; (c) lose any other justifications for your left lane-leaning tendencies, and finally; (d)  move the hell over.  Please.  Before my head explodes.