Lessons From Highway Driving

July 4, 2011

I get most of the highway driving duty in my family. I guess we’re a pretty traditional trio, and within our milieu driving long distances is “men’s work.”  We never go very far:  Round trips to Phoenix are the norm, and there’s a very occasional excursion to San Diego or Orange County. Thank goodness!

As a young driver I learned a few rules of the road. One that stuck was “stay to the right.” Drive in the right lane on the highway, move to the left lane to pass and, then, move back to the right lane. Simple and sensible! And the law, as well, as it is set forth in Title 28, Section 721, Arizona Revised Statutes.

So why do so many people, mostly in Arizona, place their cars in the left lane and leave them there? My wife says it’s random, but her theory falls apart when the facts confront her. At any given moment there may be a line of 10-20 vehicles in the left lane and, in the right lane, there’s us, three or four pokey-ass semi-trucks, maybe a pickup truck loaded up with everything a family may own and perhaps, a really old car with an even older driver.

So what’s the answer. I’m pretty sure I know, but I thought I’d test my theory and, perhaps, generate some commentary on this frustrating aspect of life.

I think the American psyche, writ larger than usual in Arizona circa 2011, explains the lawbreaking behavior. If you’re an Arizona citizen–there’s actually no such thing, as citizenship is a national concept, while residency is a state-law thing–you have a God-given right to be certain no one can or will move ahead of you in the line, even if that means everyone is driving at about 58 miles per hour. Here in the Grand Canyon State, our people are committed to the notion that if working together will let us all arrive at our destinations more quickly, and if being ahead of the other guy means we’re all on the road a while longer, Choice No. 2 is the right choice and the other choice is for Obama-loving Socialists! None of that “village” stuff we got from Madame Secretary in her prior life, no sirree. That’s for lib’ruls!

And the real lesson:  Jane should be our new highway driver! Nothing will change the behavior of our fellow travelers, but when she gets a dose of their driving habits, there will be peace in the valley!!!

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