Is the jig up for South Carolina drivers who waltz around the passing lane, putting the brakes on folks trying to boogie on down the road? Probably not, but now they have to make a choice—slide to the right or face the music.
As of Aug. 15, these slow rollers are breaking not only well-established etiquette, but the new “left-lane law” requiring leisurely, left-lane lingerers to shimmy over if they’re clogging traffic. Ideally, this will lead to safer highways and happier motorists, officials say.
The law is clear that the far-left lane should generally be inhabited only by vehicles passing other vehicles but it includes several common-sense exceptions. For example, if you need to exit left ahead, do so from the left lane. Where there’s no traffic, there are no victims—choose your lane. (A punch thrown at thin air is not battery.) If a poultry truck has overturned in an outside lane, do not run over the chickens. Move left. And so on.
Beginning mid-November, violators will face a $25 fine. It’s unclear whether the token punishment will serve as much of a deterrent to drivers who have proven unfazed by what many might consider more harsh collateral consequences—the ire of irritated, horn-honking, bright-lighting, tailgating, finger-gesturing motorists.
Anecdotally, Sidebar found himself at the mercy of such a violator less than 24 hours after the law took effect. For half an hour, the Honda driver from New Jersey did a 68-mph shimmy up the left lane of I-26, apparently unaware or dismissive of recent legislation and the 17 miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic behind him.
But up the road a ways, just outside of Columbia, an in-state driver embodied all that the law expects to promote. His fellow motorists were dance partners whom he allowed to take the lead, casually and responsibly swaying from one lane to the next—picture-perfect highway harmony.
Sidebar might not always dance exclusively to someone else’s tune, but he has often found it helpful to operate from the same sheet of music. After all, it does take two to tango.