The Passive-Aggressive Drivers are the New Traffic Police



It's terrible to drive these days. And I think this is the fault of the laws of the road. When I was younger the rule was slower traffic keep to the right and for the most part drivers did. So traffic flowed rather well.

But now they have gotten rid of slower traffic keep to the right and there are cars constantly going below the speed limit in the left lane. Often I see ten cars in the left lane all tied up because of one of these slow pokes. I also often see the car behind the slow poke tailgating the slow moving vehicle.

Many of these slow pokes will just not move to the right, no matter what. (Can you imagine two people walking in a crowd and you ask the person to please, excuse me, I'd like to get around you and the slower person saying no because they have the right to this space? Many a fight would break out unnecessarily.)

I have seen slow pokes get in the left lane and stay in that lane for long distances. I think this type of behavior is called passive-aggression. If the law says the cars don't have to move over into the slower lane, the passive-aggressive people say to themselves, let everyone be forced to move around me on my right because they are going too fast anyway. These people don't seem to be bothered at all by cars passing them on the right and then cutting over to the left lane, sometimes cutting the change of lanes too quickly. I know of cases where the passive aggressives say they really enjoy forcing other cars to go around them. It's fun for these people to make other drivers mad by forcing to go around them and possibly spoiling their day.

Overall, this is a form of passive-aggressive regulation of the speed of the other cars, but often these people start incidents of road rage because of their absolute refusal to move over into a slower lane. And where does the passive-aggressive driver get the audacity to stay in the fast lane forcing hundreds of other drivers to find an opening in the right lane so they can get around the deliberate slow poke? From the law itself.

If a driver passes around the slow poke, buts turn too fast in front of the slow poke, the slow pokes often become righteously indignant over the "speed demons" and turn from passive-aggressive to real aggressive and do what the "offending" car did to them. And now we have the possibility of a case of road rage.

So, who created this ridiculous law saying that slower traffic can stay in the "fast lane"? My contention is that the politicians deliberately made the law this way.

One reason for this is that there are great budget problems in paying a larger police force to control the traffic problems. They want to keep the police force low and one way is to let the driving be left to the drivers.

Now, of course, if the police left the driving to be determined by a kind of laissez faire policy, there could be serious accidents because of the greater speeds of cars on an unregulated system of roadways.

So what I think these politicians did was get rid of the slower traffic keep right rules precisely to allow a laissez faire policy on the highways without too many speed demons. Not having to move to the slower lane passive-aggressives serve as policemen of the road. They deliberately drive slowly in the left lane and this slows traffic.

Now many drivers tailgate the passive-aggressive and it is the tailgater who will receive a ticket, not the passive-aggressive person. The police, like the passive-aggressive people, often treat the tailgater with deep moral indignation. So the faster driver not only gets a ticket, he or she has to listen to some moralistic clap-trap about being a dangerous speeder.

Have you ever seen any slowpoke blocking the left lane get a ticket? I have not. So the politicians and to a lesser degree the police create more traffic messes than there needs be.

Of course, another problem is the public. They don't want a lot of police cars on the roadways. If there is a big boost in the number of tickets being given out, then the public starts complaining of being constantly harassed by the police over the smallest of infractions. This way they can get the number of police cars on the highway back down to a very low figure.

Another problem is the criminalization of drivers when in actuality the speed limit is set way too low. In these cases virtually no one but the passive-aggressive is going at the speed limit. Drivers have to pay higher fees for speeding when the speed limits on roadways are too low. With a speed limit set too low, a great many drivers (most of them) are lawbreakers. So the situation becomes a little idiotic and people have less respect for politicians and police and the drivers are also much more likely to be victims of road rage.

I have driven on Route 80 in New Jersey for miles and miles without seeing a policeman around. And when there is a serious traffic infraction you can only console yourself with the old saying: "There's never a policeman around when you need one."

And now let's talk about hypocrisy. Passive-aggressives often ask the police the question of what should a driver do if there is a very aggressive driver behind them going a bit crazy? The answer is . . . drum roll please. Move over into the slower lane. So, here the police sight the old rule of slower traffic moving to the right -- a law which is no longer in existence, but is sighted often by the police.

But for passive-aggressives this is not a solution. They are upright American tax-paying citizens and "they don't have to move over". And if they don't have to move over, they will assert their legal rights and continue to block and slow traffic. Well, then you will just have to put up with the consequences of blocking faster cars from getting around your car. And sometimes these are nasty consequences that could have been avoided.

It's a mess out there on America's highways. There is no effective police enforcement of the traffic system for the job of slowing traffic is left to the passive aggressives who are so morally offended when other drivers become very angry at them.

Personally, I don't like driving because of all the idiots in the left lane who refuse to move over. I deal with the situation by driving less and less. I wish I didn't have to drive at all, but often it's unavoidable. Also driving constantly reminds me of just how screwed up so many of the American institutions and practices are. It reminds me that half of the Americans are crazy and will support a racist Republican party that keeps American government ineffective, so they can justify saying big government is the problem, when actually the problem is too little government. Using "big government" as the excuse to maintain racial, ethnic and sexual inequality in the USA is like Governor George Wallace of Alabama saying that his resistance to racial integration was only a matter of "states' rights".

Of course, it's hard to make traffic flow better, but there is no need to encourage road blockers to be the unofficial police by deliberately blocking or slowing traffic. So I wish the police and highway workers would put back up the signs that say slower traffic keep right and enforce the rule by handing out tickets.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

August 14, 2012