If you’re doing the speed limit and sitting in the right lane with that look of smugness on your face, because “I am doing the speed limit and it’s okay to be in this lane” – you are my most disliked type of human being.
Sorry for the candidness, but it’s true. Honestly, get the f$#k out of the way. You have nothing to lose by merging left and you can help foster a revolution of educated and informed drivers. You’ll be showing the way to others so that they, too, will realise what basic driving requirements are needed on our highways.
It’s time Australians wake up and realise that their own sense of entitlement is not a reflection of the road rules or just pure common courtesy. What I am talking about is, of course, right lane hogs. Or right lane dickheads as we call them here. The absolute and utter disgraceful act of sitting in the right lane, regardless of the speed limit or actual speed, without a care in the world.
In most of Australia, the rules say that if the speed is higher than 90km/h (80 in some states), then the right lane is to only be used for overtaking and nothing more. Of course this is not open to interpretation, if you’re travelling in an 110km/h zone in the right lane, you’re breaking the law unless you’re overtaking another car.
That also doesn’t mean that you’re thinking about overtaking another car, or have overtaken another car 5km back – but if you’re just immediately overtaking another car.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier for traffic police to sit on the side of the road with a speed gun that is point-and-shoot, rather than drive along the highway and enforce the other, and certainly lesser known, traffic laws.
My pain with this issue has been decades in the making. I have been to so many European countries where trucks are banned from the fast lane (the left in left-hand-drive countries), and the motorists that use those highways know without a shadow of doubt that the left lane is purely for overtaking and not for cruising. Australia is almost the complete opposite.
What really started to burn me inside happened on a recent trip from Brisbane to Fraser Island and back, when insanely slow cars towing caravans or sightseeing would sit in the right lane, or worse yet, attempt to overtake other insanely slow cars in those precious few hundred metres of overtaking lanes, leaving dozens of cars behind them for yet another 10km of slow driving.
Not only was this an exhibition of highly selfish behaviour, but it was also a pure reflection of the manner in which Australians take their driving. There’s an overwhelming sense of belief that if a car is doing the speed limit, it doesn’t matter what lane it is in. Add to this the ridiculously low tolerances for speeding, and overtaking lanes all of a sudden become utterly redundant.
How often have you found yourself in a scenario behind two cars travelling slightly below or at the speed limit for dozens of kilometres, only to have one try to overtake the other in an overtaking lane that you’ve been praying for? What happens in these cases, usually, is that Slow Car Number Two begins to try overtaking Slow Car Number One, right at the speed limit. Number One all of sudden decides that he too will go the speed limit, and they sit side-by-side like a bunch of complete idiots running down the metres before the left lane ends.
This is a problem that is partially due to poor driving behaviour, but also due to the government’s consistent and relentless enforcement of excruciatingly low speed-limit tolerances. Where, even in the overtaking lane, they will ping you doing 94km/h trying to overtake someone doing 89km/h.
This means that those that venture out into the right lane to overtake are usually petrified of a speeding ticket, sitting instead on the speed limit – or just above it – to perform an overtaking manoeuvre that takes upwards of 15-20 seconds. With just the most basic application of common sense, this should take five seconds.
During a recent trip back from the Hunter Valley to Sydney, I was presented with the situation of a highway filled with three trucks, one in each of the three lanes, for over 45 kilometres.
The truck in the far right lane had decided to jump in front of me before I could overtake the other trucks, so that he could overtake those ‘slower’ trucks first. Despite waiting what may have been an additional 30 seconds, he thought it a good idea to first cut off a car in order to attempt this manoeuvre.
This has happened far too many times in my experience. There is certainly an argument here that Australia needs to ban trucks from the far right lane on three-lane-plus highways, but there is absolutely no reason that, on a three-lane highway, three trucks should ever occupy all lanes. Ever.
To make matters worse, though, and for whatever reason, the truck in the middle lane decided that he was going to speed up, to stop the truck in the right lane from overtaking him. This went on for almost 30 mins, this game of sheer and utter stupidity. Now, a dozen cars were sitting behind me in the right lane, wondering what on earth was going on with these trucks.
The truck in the right lane could have at any point aborted his move, slowed down for a few precious seconds and merged back behind the middle lane truck, but he also insisted that he was going to get past. Selfishness from both drivers.
After what seemed like a lifetime, the middle truck relented and let him go. The cars quickly got past with plenty of angry faces – followed by some rude gestures from the truck driver.
After the cars had been set free, I noticed out of the rear view mirror that the original truck in the middle lane was now attempting to make his own move on the truck that had just overtaken him, again blocking all three lanes of the highway. How these two idiots still have a truck licence is well and truly beyond me. And although I would usually blur out the number plates from photos (which, by the way, I did not take while driving), for the purposes of hoping that some actual police action comes of this (use the ‘contact us’ button for details), I have not.
Of course I have extremely limited faith in police enforcement of right lane hogs. I have never seen it happen. I don’t know of anyone that has seen it happen. It’s almost a rule that is not enforced. A myth that educated drivers preach and others completely ignore. Unlike using fog lights!
This was made evident during the period in which the trucking idiots duelled, as we drove past two police patrol cars sitting on the side of the highway waiting patiently for a speeding driver to go by. Neither of them cared enough to put their lights on, chase down the trucks and ask them what on earth was going on.
If you’re not speeding, you’re perfectly fine to do whatever else the hell you want, that clearly seems to be the message from our men in blue. Great policing, thanks.
Thankfully, just as recently as this week there has been some action from the NSW police force, with almost 200 fines issued for the offence ($118, two demerit points).
In all seriousness, though, please – unless you’re overtaking another car and you can do it in such a manner that all those behind you will not get stuck in the process, stay in the left f$#king lane. Please. Everyone will be happier for it.