I really didn't want to get into this again.
But a reader has asked me to try one more time to whack some sense into drivers, police, Justices of the Peace and the Ministry of Transportation for the province of Ontario about the scourge of left-lane banditry.
The legislature is off the hook on this one - they have already passed all the laws we need to eradicate this pestilence from our roads.
I PROMISE you, I absolutely GUARANTEE, that a big chunk of the irritation, lane-swapping, tailgating, road rage and other driving irritants we see on the roads every day would be eradicated if only we could correct this problem.
Traffic would move faster AND more safely, and we would increase our highways' capacities without building a single new lane - a few litres of paint, a few signs, a minor attitude adjustment in our enforcement/judicial system, and we'd be done.
Oh yeah, we'd have to get the cops to stop writing tickets for teenagers waving to each other (that's street racing, dontcha know) and flashing headlights to warn of radar traps (expressly NOT illegal in Ontario) and start writing them for violating the most important rule of the road, after impaired driving and failure to wear a seat belt.
We'd also have to convince the JPs to start convicting on these charges when/if they are laid; whenever I bring this issue up with either group, they always blame the other.
If you COULD be passed by someone on your right, whether in fact you actually ARE being passed or not, you are in violation of the Highway Traffic Act, section 147, subsection 1.
Paraphrasing, you MUST drive in the right-most lane unless passing or preparing to turn left,
If you ARE in fact being passed on your right, you are in violation of the HTA on two counts - 147 (1) above, AND Section 148 subsection 2, which reads (and this one is too cute not to quote in its entirety):
"Every person in charge of a vehicle or on horseback on a highway who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the overtaking vehicle or equestrian to pass."
So you equestrians out there on the 401, please take note.
Note also that neither of these subsections makes any reference whatsoever to the speed limit. Doesn't matter how fast or how slow you are going, pal - move the heck over.
Just because you happen to be obeying one law (a largely irrelevant one, as regular readers know), it does not absolve you of the responsibility to obey the other laws, especially the ones that really matter.
Note too that passing on the right is expressly NOT illegal in Ontario either - HTA 150(1). I wish it were illegal, because it can be dangerous. And I wish we didn't have to do it.
But we do...
Why does the Ministry have to get off their collective asses on this one?
Because they keep designing our roads so the driving lane keeps disappearing. Turning into an off-ramp. Or being shrunk when the highway narrows. So people get scared, and migrate to the middle lane where they are in danger of getting creamed from both sides.
The right lane is the DRIVING lane, fer cryin' out loud. How can it disappear? You should be able to drive from Windsor to the Quebec border and never touch the turn signal lever.
Passing lanes? Well, you add them on the left when you need them; when you don't need them any more, then THEY should disappear, FROM the left.
That's where the paint comes in - just re-paint the lane markings and we'd be half-way home.
Post a few signs - like on EVERY SINGLE OVERPASS on the highway - reminding people of their responsibilities, and have the cops and JPs toss the book at them if they refuse.
It ain't rocket surgery, folks.