Slower Traffic Keep Right: Highway Safety and Left Lane Bandits

There is a growing consensus that the BC Government’s pre-occupation with speed limits on our highways is more political than empirical; that is, the focus appears to be more on revenue maximization than safety per se. As already written in the January 9, 2014 article, “Roadside Justice or Injustice”, when speed limits are arbitrary, they have no real safety justification. When speed limits are arbitrary, set through political rather than empirical process, the speed limit’s relationship to the maximum safe speed becomes substantially irrelevant. Therefore, a crash can be considered as speed-related even if it occurs at a safe speed, simply because the speed was in excess of a politically-determined limit. The slogan “speed kills” becomes hackneyed.

Arguably, enforcement should focus equally, if not more, upon causes for variations in speed, as research indicates the greatest threat to safety are the “outliers” in traffic: those vehicles moving faster or slower than the majority of drivers on the highway.

The major contributors to incidents on our highways however, are “left lane bandits”, those drivers who insist on driving in the left lane (or the “passing lane”) completely disregarding the “Slower Traffic Keep Right” highway signs and effectively holding the line of cars behind them hostage. A recent article in The Vancouver Sun discusses this issue and can be read here.

It is notable that, as a result of the “Slow Moving Vehicle” portion of its recent provincewide Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, the BC Government has determined it will adopt new signage and highway markings as well as make changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to deal with left lane bandits and the dangers they pose to the rest of the motoring public.

It is unfortunate that, again, common sense is not enough and state intervention is required.

Message to left lane bandits: Move Over

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