The Golden Rule is highly underrated. It is the simple concept of treating others as you wish to be treated, or maybe you ascribe to the Silver Rule of NOT treating others in ways that you do not want to be treated. Those of us who try to follow these philosophies can only be benefit from doing so, because many of life’s difficulties can be avoided by being mindful of these maxims. This mindset can even extend to driving habits. Think about how many traffic accidents result from drivers being discourteous to each other. Speeding, improper lane change, failure to yield the right-of-way, and other traffic ticket-worthy violations can all be considered acts of discourtesy that can be avoided if we invoke a little thoughtfulness for other drivers. One seemingly insignificant occurrence of rudeness such as an inconsiderate lane change can lead to an accident, a traffic citation, or both. Consider also the millions of dollars the State of Florida gains in revenue every year by issuing traffic tickets for actions that often boil down to nothing more acts of incivility.
Although this intransigent inflexibility usually applies to the hallowed left lane, that is not the only time drivers refuse to give way. Many times, other motorists who find they need to pull onto the shoulder of the roadway have difficulty re-entering the flow of traffic because few drivers are willing to extend the consideration of allowing them to get back on the road. It seems many drivers must be thinking, “Well, he can go after I pass,” and not taking into account that moving over or slowing down a bit will cost them nothing, but can be tremendously helpful to someone else. Merging is another time that drivers often seem to try to hurry up so as to prevent someone else from overtaking them. Usually merging is the result of a lane ending or construction cones or barrels set up to force drivers over while work is being done on a particular lane of traffic. Yet in these circumstances, the refusal of other drivers to allow someone to merge will frequently result in a traffic accident. Of course, there are those jackasses who see the lane is merging so they speed up to try to get in front of as many other vehicles as possible. None of us want to let this idiot over, but the risk of an accident is just not worth that little sense of victory we may feel by preventing his attempt at being a jerk from succeeding. Let’s face it – your intractability is not going to change the fact that this guy is still a jerk.
With the volume of traffic on South Florida highways, trying to merge onto a highway from an entrance ramp can also be a tricky endeavor. Again, the attitude of a lot of drivers seems to be that the next guy will let others in. It is understandable to be hesitant about slowing down, at least slowing down a great deal, while on a busy roadway because no one wants to get rear-ended. Consequently, letting someone enter the highway or merge from one lane into another is something that needs to be done, but needs to be done cautiously. Lane courtesy is not a term that you hear very often, if at all. I am sure, however, that it is something that all South Florida drivers face on a daily, or almost daily, basis. In a nutshell, lane courtesy is the act of giving way to other drivers. All experienced drivers are cognizant of the purpose of the left lane on a highway. It is designed for faster flowing traffic or for passing slower vehicles. Yet how many times during your daily commute do you see someone refuse to give up his or her position to other drivers? More often than not, once a driver gains position in that much-coveted left lane, it seems their willingness to concede the ground they feel they have gained is uncompromising.
Lane courtesy is an arbitrary concept that is really just a matter of driving with a little common sense and thoughtfulness toward other drivers. No one benefits when a driver refuses to relinquish the left lane to other traffic. Trying to wend your way through congested traffic is a frustrating enough experience without one driver holding up others. This added irritation can incite a driver who is trying to pass to engage in reckless behaviors such as speeding or improper lane changes. I am not saying that thwarting the efforts of a driver to pass absolves him of the responsibility to drive safely. I am simply pointing out that it happens and thereby makes the roads less safe for others. Even though lane courtesy is subjective, there are laws that govern proper lane changes and passing other vehicles. Whenever you execute either of these maneuvers, Florida general statutes mandate that you must use the appropriate turn signal, and G.S. 316.083 specifically states the legal requirements of passing or overtaking a vehicle. Failure to follow these statutes can result in a noncriminal moving violation. These laws are on the books to ensure that drivers pass with care and consistency. This should enhance the flow of traffic, but unfortunately they are laws that are rarely enforced. This just adds to the annoyance of many drivers. It seems that cops are more interested in catching speeders because the fines for speeding can be much higher than those for failing to yield to a driver wishing to overtake, merge, or pass another. Speeding creates a greater stream of revenue for the state, so obviously this is going to be their priority.
There are advantages to practicing lane courtesy. If you avoid restricting the progress of other drivers, you are less likely to be involved in or cause a traffic accident. Other drivers will be less inclined to tailgate or weave in and out of traffic in an effort to get around you. You can also expect to get better gas mileage. Maintaining a consistent speed without continuous braking and acceleration will increase your fuel economy. If everyone or even most drivers implement lane courtesy, it can also reduce congestion which helps all motorists get to their destination more efficiently. Finally, if more motorists were to practice good driving habits, there would surely be less incidents of road rage. Additionally, a reduction of annoyed and impatient drivers could conceivably reduce the number of traffic tickets issued in South Florida every year.
Of course, there is that one driver who wants to pass others in the left lane who pisses off everyone. You know the one I mean. He’s that driver who speeds up behind you, tailgates to intimidate you into moving over, and then he slows way down, holding up left lane traffic in the process. The rationale behind this action escapes me. Don’t be that guy! If, however, you are that guy and have gotten a traffic ticket for that or any other reason, give our office a call at 954-967-9898 for a free consultation.