Let’s face it – we are living in the 21th century and cars are no longer requiring 61 metres or more to stop from 62 miles per hour to a full standstill. That means we are basically able to drive at faster speeds than before, without having troubles with emergency braking.
So, why are the roads still not a safe place to be – literally, anywhere on the planet? Yes, speeding is still a major factor, but slowing down and changing lanes could be even more dangerous, according to some recent researchers. Specialists even say that the strongest predictor of an accident is the difference with the prevailing speed of traffic.
To put it in context, a car going 5mph slower than the surrounding traffic has a greater chance of causing an accident than one going 5mph faster. That’s why some regions in the world have laws that restrict the use of the left lane. Some states in the US, for example, advise motorists to keep right if going slower than the surrounding traffic, while some are even stricter, saying the left lane is used only for turning or passing. Much like advice in the United Kingdom, where the Highway Code restricts traffic to left lanes unless overtaking.
Some people argue that as long as they are respecting the speed limits, they don’t have to move over, but recently US police officers have started issuing tickets to people driving slower than the traffic in the left lane.
Another good example is the German autobahn, where drivers use the right lane for travelling most of the time and the left lane only for passing or driving faster than the traffic. Despite the areas with no speed limits, the accident rates are surprisingly low there.
Can we all agree that the left lane is for passing? If more people understand how this works, we will have far fewer traffic jams and, most importantly, fewer road accidents.