Flash to pass left lane dwadlers? Go for more effective firepower

General Electric GAU-8/A

Make your car sound like the guy on the left–usually mounted in the nose of a U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog–to get the guy ion the right to move out of the left lane.

There’s nothing more annoying, other than perhaps war and pestilence, than the driver who clings to the orange stripe on a multilane highway like it’s some sort of lifeline. You’ll see this in urban drivers—OK, New Yorkers—who, exposed to the wilds of an untrammeled expanse of a rural Interstate, cling to the left side of the road like a rat to the wall, fearing the exposure one gets from the occasional on-ramp from the right.

Or maybe it’s for some other reason, but it really doesn’t matter. They’re there, and their inattentiveness and/or ignorance means you can’t be off and gone. The left lane clingers are blocking progress of more time/travel efficient individuals. And those who just want to drive faster.

In many if not most states, it’s illegal to hand in the left lane interminably. The law says complete your pass and move back to the right. (Note: Most states require moving left or slowing down when passing a stopped emergency or police vehicle).

In short, however, if cars are passing you on the right, you probably shouldn’t be in the left lane.

The traditional way to get people to move over, imported from Europe, is “flash to pass.” For the autobahn-savvy, flashing headlights in the rearview mirror means move over. Perhaps in a society subservient to rank and privilege, that works. In America, however, there’s an obstinate streak that sees this as aggressive, particularly combined with tailgating, and is more likely to result in a flash of brake lights than any form of cooperation. Particularly if the car flashing to pass is a BMW.

One technique that’s been suggested by Tom Appel writing in Consumer Guide’s blog, is the “passive left-hand turn signal.” Come up behind the driver in front and turn your left turn signal on. That driver will see the turn signal as a request to pass on the left and move over. Of course, that assumes that the driver ahead is courteous. And aware. And doesn’t think you’ve just forgotten to turn your signal off. But some people drive for miles never looking in their rearview mirror. Even roof-mounted red and blue strobes can’t penetrate that torpor. What good would a mere turn signal do?

I use the rumble strips. I stay back beyond tailgating but closer than the “one car length per 10 mph”–who does that?–and then move as far left as I can without hitting the rumble strips. This puts me in the left hand mirror of the driver ahead (who likely has the mirror turned so he/she can see what’s immediately behind rather his/her car than to the lane to the left). That way I hope to establish my presence, at least for the driver who is semi-aware.

If that fails, however, I drift over and momentarily touch the rumble strips.

There’s nothing like the sound of the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon mounted in the nose of an A-10 Warthog to get peoples’ attention.

It they don’t respond to that, I give them a bigger burst. It takes an obstinate or truly unconscious driver to not get the point and move to the right. It doesn’t always work but it’s the best thing I’ve found, at least until they approve the air-to-air Sidewinder missile for highway use.