Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lame Discipline

Did you know that in Utah it is OK to stay in the left lane of a multi-lane road and let others pass you on the right?  I had no idea.

About 10 years ago I learned to drive in the United Kingdom.  I had been driving in the US for over 20 years.  I had to learn a lot of things besides just driving on the other side of the road.  In the UK it is illegal to pass on the left (the equivalent of our right) on a multi-lane road.  The British are very committed to their lane discipline.  You are to stay to the left unless you are passing and then you are to return to the left immediately. 

I thought the same thing was required here in Utah and that Utah drivers are just without "Lane Discipline".  Not so.  Here in Utah you can coast along in the the left lane to your heart's content on a multi-lane road unless you see one of those pesky signs saying "Stay Right Except to Pass".

I looked at the Utah Drivers Handbook (you can get it online by going to public  There is nothing in the handbook saying you have to stay to the left on a multi-lane road except to pass.

There is one interesting thing in the UDH that seems to encourage this lack of lane discipline.  On page 12 it says you can pass on the right on a multi-lane road.  "Are you kidding me?" I thought, but, there it is in pictures for all to see.  (I can't figure out how to copy the image and put it here or I would).  

Doesn't that seem a bit weird?  Why should it be OK to stay in the left lane?  Shouldn't we have a single direction code of conduct so we all know to stay on the left until passing on the right rather than encourage multi directional passing so we don't know where someone will come from?

How often has someone just put on their blinker and leaped out in front of you without really knowing you were there?  I believe not having a standard code about staying left leads to a lax attitude toward driving that leads to people doing what they want without looking in their mirrors first.  I know it sounds like a stretch but if we don't teach a strict code in driver's education class we won't have disciplined drivers.

The drivers in the UK have to go through a lot more than we do to get a license.  As a consequence they are, on the whole, better drivers.  They have a sense of duty and obligation to the road, almost a professionalism, that doesn't exist here, especially in Utah. 

As roads get more crowded we will need to adopt this attitude or a lot more people will die.  We all are trying to get somewhere and to think you are the only one on the road is ludicrous.  Please slow down, look in your mirrors and be courteous.  I know that goes for me as well.  I promise to try.

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