ETC
Left-lane hogs. Left-lane campers. Passing-lane slowpokes. Inconsiderate jerkfaces. Like Satan himself, drivers who block the left lane go by many names — we're just listing a few non-obscene ones. Some automotive news outlets are writing breathlessly today about the fact that a new left-lane law has just gone into effect in Nevada, and the stories are to the tune of "It's about damn time!"

Which completely misses the point that all 50 states already had laws about this — yes, including Nevada.

No surprise, this: Left-lane camping is considered one of the top causes of road rage. Likewise, it's considered a top cause of getting yourself killed. A 2013 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that "potentially aggressive actions — such as tailgating, erratic lane changing, or illegal passing — are a factor in up to 56 percent of fatal crashes." And the survey notes that nothing brings out this particular set of behaviors quite like a left-lane rolling roadblock.

Nevada's new law states that it's illegal to drive at less than the speed limit when in the left lane. "It's law here that if you're gonna be in that lane, you need to be going at least the speed limit," State Trooper Jason Buratczuk told KTNV-TV in Las Vegas.

The trooper elaborates that he's not telling people to speed, just drive at exactly the speed limit. Officially speaking, of course.

Yet the wording of Nevada's previous law, NRS 484B.627, seems more effective. It stated that it was illegal to drive in the left lane except to pass. Seems simple enough, right? Must not have been, hence the new law.

The various laws across the country all take different wording approaches, and most stipulate fines, some up to $1,000. A 2015 law in Indiana states that drivers are not supposed to travel in the left-most lane if they know cars are trying to overtake them. Which should just be common sense, right? That law's wording states the essence of the problem. (Though if no one's trying to overtake you, but you're not overtaking anybody yourself, you shouldn't be there regardless, now should you.) But, been in Indiana lately? Anything magically change there?

So why do campers do it? In the Seattle area, where left-lane blocking is an art form, it's common for arguments to break out in online forums and comments between frustrated drivers who can't pass and sanctimonious drivers who insist they can drive in the left lane as long as they are at posted speed — and some even go so far as to say they do this on purpose to keep others from speeding. Kind of like how one senator can doom a piece of legislation. All of which means they are either trolls, grossly misinformed, passive-aggressive socks-and-sandals weirdos, or delusional about their role in society.

In another AAA survey many years ago, 97 percent of respondents said slower highway drivers should always keep right. And 86 percent said motorists traveling at the speed limit should always make way for faster drivers. "The intensity of the response was really phenomenal. It is an enormous hot button," said AAA spokesman Lon Anderson.

The problem with that 97 percent figure is this: The remaining 3 percent of drivers is all it takes to jam up the rest of us.

Let's recap the basics. You 3 percenters, take note:
  • The left lane is also called the passing lane. For a reason.
  • As long as you are overtaking cars, you're using the passing lane correctly.
  • The moment you are not overtaking cars, you don't belong there. Move right.
  • If you are traveling at the speed limit and a speeding car moves up behind you, as long as you're overtaking cars you're still using the lane correctly. Finish your pass, then move right.
  • If you are stuck behind a left-lane camper, you're frustrated, and you try to pass him on the right, you're moving into his blind spot at the moment he decides to make the lane change you've been begging him for. So you've increased the odds of an accident.
Here's a longer take on lane etiquette from one of our readers, if you're even interested and in need of a primer. Likewise, here is a really helpful video.

But of course it's a self-awareness thing: If you're a left-lane camper, you probably don't even recognize it.

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