by Frances Edstrom, columnist
I’m usually a person who thinks we have too many laws. However, the last four or five years, I’ve found myself thinking there outta be a law about two things, both having to do with driving.
It drives me crazy when I’m on the highway, and the speed limit is 70 mph, and all of a sudden I come upon two cars, one in the right lane, one in the left, next to each other, both going 60 mph. It makes me use language that most people consider quite rude.
It is also very bothersome when a slower-moving vehicle parks itself in the left lane, making all the other cars pass on the right.
I love to drive, and in the last year have taken several long car trips — one to Omaha, and one to Massachusetts. The drive to Omaha can be a little monotonous, watching the miles and miles of rolling hills in America’s Breadbasket. So, I played a little game. Every time I came upon a car going slower in the left lane, I made sure to note the license plate. You guessed it, didn’t you? Minnesota drivers.
I did the same thing on the way to Massachusetts, and through Wisconsin, Minnesota drivers once again clogged up the left lane, even though we like to say that Wisconsin and Iowa drivers are the slow ones.
Many of these drivers, members of the Anti-Destination League, are also, if you can believe it, on their cell phones!
Cell phone drivers don’t really care which lane they are in, though, they are content wandering all over the road, slowing down, speeding up, making last-minute exits, and generally making “accidents-waiting-to-happen” of themselves. Drivers who are actually paying attention feel like they are playing a game of chicken whenever they get near a driver on a cell phone. Many cars have Bluetooth, so a person can make or receive a call hands-free. I once asked a friend who was holding his phone why he didn’t use his Bluetooth. He didn’t know how to set it up, he said. Now’s the time to learn! Just punch the button and it tells you what to do.
Both of these driving transgressions are not only annoying, but also dangerous.
Nonetheless, people who regularly drive slower in the left lane are kind of proud of that fact, and think they are preventing accidents by never changing lanes, even though the statistics prove otherwise. Driving slower than surrounding traffic is more likely to cause an accident than speeding, according to research.
People who are constantly on their cell phones in the car, either talking or texting, assure me they are in control of the vehicle all the time, even though last year there were 1.5-million car accidents attributed to cell phone usage, which kills between 3,000 and 6,000 people every year.
Now comes the good news. The Minnesota legislature passed laws against both cell usage and slower traffic in the left lane this year, and they both go into effect on August 1, 2019, with fines for breaking either law.
For a few months I guess I’ll have to say I like more laws — or, at least, two more laws.