Left-lane Larrys can create problems for the rest of us

TRAFFIC TALK

February 17, 2004|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ARE YOU a left-lane Larry? Last week, Joseph Rubino sent an e-mail about the Larrys on our highways.

"Driving in Maryland is an absolute pleasure compared to Florida," Mr. Rubino said. "In Florida, everyone drives in the left lane. In fact, if you want to make a little better time, move over to the right lane because it's generally empty. I call these left-lane drivers `Larry,' after a good friend of mine who insists that whenever he gets on a highway, he's going to position himself in the left lane, do exactly the speed limit, and not move out of that lane no matter what."

He lays responsibility for many accidents on left-lane Larrys. "Folks like Larry don't realize they enable many accidents on the road. In a perfect world, slower drivers would drive in the right lane, with faster folks in the left. The speed demons in the left lane would never come into contact with the slow folks in the right. But that's where Larry comes in! Larry is the one who gets these two types of drivers together. By driving exactly 55 mph in the left lane, Larry finds himself right alongside the folks in the right lane, and he creates a moving roadblock, until the amateur NASCAR driver approaches from the rear. Now that Larry has brought everyone together, he holds them there in a deadly tango until the speeder can't stand it anymore and does something stupid.

"It's what I call the Law of Larry," Mr. Rubino said. "If you can't find an accident, just follow Larry. There will be one soon."

Randall Bradford also send an e-mail about dealing with the likes of left-lane Larry. "I don't know why people in Maryland have so much trouble dealing with left-lane drivers," he said. "Just pass them on the right and get over it. What's so hard about that?"

See above.

More driving pet peeves

One of the enjoyable things about writing this column is hearing other people's traffic traumas. These have gone a long way to convincing my husband that I'm completely normal in having driving-related grievances.

Laura Solash Gensler sent an e-mail recently about her three "major pet peeves."

No. 1 on her list - "When making left turns, [some] cars turn up to one-half a block before they reach the corner ... [putting] them on the wrong side of the road in the direction they are going and on the road they turn into. I have even seen police cars do this when they are not in a hurry. When I learned to drive, I was told to go halfway through the intersection and then turn left."

Her second driving annoyance is drivers "who pull through a parking space in parking lots. Don't these people have reverse on their cars?" she asked. "I have seen so many people lose a parking space because some inconsiderate idiot pulls through. I don't know how to stop them other than putting curbs in between the spaces."

And finally, she asked, "If automobile drivers are expected to share the road with bicycles, why are [cyclists] not following the rules of the road? They do not stop at stop signs or red lights. If they do not go the speed limit, they should be on the shoulder of the road and not in a lane blocking the flow of traffic."

Finally, Ms. Gensler asked, "Any suggestions as how to correct these?"

I share your concern about the first peeve. I've seen the same and wondered how hard it is just to go the few extra feet on the correct side of the road. But about your second peeve: There's nothing wrong with pulling through to an empty parking space unless, of course, you're robbing a waiting vehicle of its fair spot.

As for your third: Bicyclists who insist on riding on the roads, yet refuse to abide by the rules thereof, put a kink in my crankshaft, too. But to expect a cyclist to match the speed limit is ridiculous and dangerous. At whatever speed they choose to follow, cyclists have as much right as any car to ride in the lane - as long as they're riding in the correct direction, have lights at night and obey traffic signs and signals.

Pothole factory

Where are the biggest, baddest potholes?

Winter is a pothole factory, and they're popping up all over the place. I drove over a whoops-a-daisy of a pothole on St. Johns Lane, near Old Frederick Road, the other day and nearly lost a hubcap.

Let me know where the worst potholes are, and I'll ensure they are reported to the right folks.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 820, Columbia, 21044. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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