Lane Courtesy Month
Posted: June 15, 2007
I remember when I moved to Wisconsin from Illinois, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of motorists from the Badger State who actually knew that slower drivers were supposed to move to the right lane and allow faster drivers to pass them on the left side of the two-lane highway. Where I grew up, it was never a sure thing that you could pass someone while driving the speed limit in the left lane. In fact, if you were going at least the equivalent of the speed limit on an Illinois toll road, you were likely to get passed by some insane driver who had no problem surprising you by passing you in the right lane, or even on the far left shoulder of the highway.
In this world of naming specific days, weeks and/or months to honor noble causes, I read somewhere recently that June is "Lane Courtesy Month". At first, I laughed at that thought that someone would take the time to trouble themselves with this mission. But now I think it is great that Wisconsin is one of only a number of states that have embraced the concept of safe highway driving this summer.
Keep in mind that our neighbors to the south are soon to be invading our northwoods and will be unfamiliar with the new Highway 53 Freeway. This means that most of us who are not yet adjusted to the 65-mile-per-hour speed limit on the bypass will be passed with regularity by motorists from the Land of Lincoln. (Not like that did not happen in the past on South Hastings Way!)
The National Motorists Association has dedicated a web site to this cause (www.lanecourtesy.com). The paragraph on one of the web site's links discusses lane coutesy. Unfortunately, the site seems to encourage drivers to consider passing in the right lane if the slow driver in the left lane does not recognize your faster pace:
"American drivers are renowned for neither understanding nor appreciating the importance of lane courtesy, i.e. slower traffic keep right and faster traffic pass on the left. If you're in the left lane and slower vehicles are in your way, give the other drivers a chance to find an opening in the right lane. Signal your intentions with four or five blinks of your left directional. A brief flash of headlights may be necessary to clarify your intentions. If they refuse to move over, don't lose your temper. Write the lane blockers off as ignorant, incompetent or inconsiderate and work your way around them as best you can."
So now we have the organization that promotes safe driving telling motorists to go ahead and pass on the right if the person in front of you is going too slow in the left lane. This is your warning to what could be an interesting summer driving season on our region's newest and most expensive roadway. Buckle up and stay to the right.