...and what's being done about it

Lately it seems like road rage is quite the rage. Sharing our increasingly overcrowded roads is not as easy as it used to be.

I suspect that one legacy of 20 years of the Nixonian 55 mph national maximum speed limit is that we now have a generation of drivers on the roads who think that 55 mph is fast. After all, millions upon millions of cars were produced that had 55 (even on cars with 20-mph-increment markings!) on their speedometers. And we all know what happens when the needle gets into that red zone, right? Speed Kills. Or so I've heard. I think they still preach that at meetings of the Anti-Destination League, though by now even NHTSA has admitted that it simply is not true.

For a long time it's seemed to me that U.S. drivers in general need to practice a lot more lane discipline. Lo and behold, Arkansas, as of September 1997, has put some common sense into writing. (And isn't the the purpose, after all, of laws?)

From now on, it is illegal to impede a faster vehicle while travelling in the left lane. That means if you're tooling along at 78 mph in the left lane and someone comes steaming up towards your rear bumper, you are required to yield the left lane to the faster, overtaking, vehicle. As if it were now illegal to allow yourself to be passed on the right. Other states have been enacting similar laws.

(And if you're that tool going 78 and wondering if that car really wants to go faster than you, just ask yourself if you heard the helicopter from which that car dropped right behind you like that...)

Finally, Get out of the way! is law.

Assuming this law isn't ignored, and the roads aren't too gridlocked for it to come into play, I will add Arkansas to Montana on my list of approved states in which to drive.

As more drivers finally get clued in to the fact that the left lane really is for passing, we will hopefully find ourselves sharing the road with fewer road hogs. This is cause for celebration, and also for less tailgating.

For those of you who missed that day in drivers' education where safe following distances were covered, I have two words: 2 seconds.

That's the time gap you should strive to maintain behind a vehicle you are following.