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Archive for July, 2013

Doing Speed Limit in the Fast Lane

Road etiquette demands that you do greater than speed limit in the fast lane. I have seen memes that confirm this unwritten social rule. So I thought about this a little during my commute.

The sign says that the number on it is the upper limit to speed. So, it is not wrong to be going at speed limit in the fast lane. Is this one of those times when being not wrong and being right are different things? Out of three lanes, one is called the fast lane. Sometimes, express lane. The laws of the sign apply equally to all lanes, yet, one is called the fast lane. This fast lane is meant to enable people in a hurry, or people seeking a clear road ahead of them for comfort, or plain impatient people to pass other cars, other cars that are doing speed limit in non-fast lanes, or cars that are going slower than speed limit out of caution, or out of being unsure of the next turn. But mainly cars doing speed limit on non-fast lanes.

It is then necessary that to pass a car doing the speed limit, one must go faster. It should really have been named the faster lane. Nevertheless, the fast lane’s primary purpose thus becomes clear – letting people do greater than speed limit to achieve a specific goal.

Don’t forget, the sign requires you to stay below speed limit irrespective of lanes. Then, are you wrong in going at speed limit in the fast lane? You’re not speeding. You’re not too low below speed limit, so you’re no grandma (even if you are one in reality.) You should be the most loved driver, loved by the law, loved by fellow drivers. But not when you’re in the fast lane. Doing speed limit in the fast lane is as wrong as not holding the door for a person ten meters away, as not waving pedestrians across an unmarked crossing, as shushing a person at the cinema.

Why? The reason, I thought, is very simple. Actions that engender a feeling of righteousness in the person at the cost of discomfort to others are wrong. If I go at speed limit, I am causing the person behind me, who is looking to pass the person beside me, to fail. But I think I am not wrong. In fact, I think I am golden. Despite of what I think, I see the guy behind, just centimeters away, egging me on. I can see him dipper-ing and honking the hell out at me in my head. But I’m at the speed limit. I don’t want to break the law. I am an ideal driver. Why has this become such a grave situation? Am I really not wrong?

I sped up. I didn’t want to, but I had to, only to change lanes after passing the car beside me. And slowed down to the speed limit, to be not wrong, and right too.

TL;DR: You’re not wrong if you’re doing speed limit in the fast lane, you’re just, let’s say, a very bad person.