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Jesse Breedlove

Keep Right USA

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How best to educate the public as to the importance of the Slower Traffic Keep Right laws in respect to public safety?

Slower Traffic Keep Right is the law in most states. Failure to keep right has a negative effect on traffic safety, traffic congestion, emergency response, aggressive driving, air pollution, fuel consumption, direct and indirect medical costs and much more.

There are many traffic safety laws, Slower Traffic Keep Right may be the most important. Not only is it a law, but also a guide on how to maintain order on today’s busy roads and freeways. With an ever increasing amount of vehicles and usually between two and four lanes, this is the only way that motorists of differing speeds can share the road safely and orderly.

If all motorists obeyed the Slower Traffic Keep Right laws at all times there would be a reduction in traffic accidents, traffic fatalities and traffic congestion. Emergency response would also be improved resulting in even more lives being saved.

The main argument against enforcing this law is that it promotes speeding. The fact is that this is not a speed issue, but a safety issue. It is the responsibility of the police to enforce the speeding laws, not other motorists. Motorists that impede the free flow of traffic force faster motorists to pass on the right. Impeding the free flow of traffic is a very dangerous practice and a leading cause of aggressive driving and road rage.

Undisciplined motorists that impede the free flow of traffic through ignorance, inattention, or just being inconsiderate show a disregard for public safety and the normal practice of defensive driving. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Whether you drive fast, slow, or moderate, people that drive slowly in the passing lanes cause a hazard for all of us.

Slower Traffic Keep Right is a basic driving technique. How do we get politicians, law enforcement and the motoring public on the same page as to the importance of this law? There is a grass roots campaign that is addressing this issue, Google America Keep right.

Help further this conversation with your ideas.

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    Nov 9 2012: I think the scenario you are hoping to establish looks like this: If a driver chooses to exceed the posted legal maximum speed limit then all those who do not choose to drive as fast should yield by merging to the right. Basically you are advocating a "Yield To Faster Traffic No Matter What The Posted Speed Limit Is" rule.
    Creating a hazard while driving is always a moving violation. Driving too slow, or too fast is a moving violation with only one remedy: obey the posted speed limit. I totally agree that those who choose to drive below the posted maximum speed limit should observe the STKR rule. But, I don't think that is what you advocate, is it? You want others to get out of your way if you choose to disregard the maximum speed limit, am I right? You want the left lane reserved for the drivers who disregard and exceed the posted maximum speed. It is interesting to note how many drivers use the phrase "fast lane" when there is no such thing since the speed limit is the same for all lanes. (Are you related to Craig?)
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      Nov 10 2012: Mr. Long, Thank you for your input. As I have stated before, "I do not condone speeding" and I prefer to call the left lanes "passing lanes" rather than "fast lanes". I am not advocating that people obey this law so that I can personally drive faster. This is the law in most states, visit this link about state "Keep Right" laws on the MIT website (http://www.mit.edu/~jfc/right.html). The page on the MIT website speaks for itself.

      You will find a common theme on the MIT state "Keep Right" laws page regarding "Keep Right Except To Pass". "Keep Right Except To Pass" and "Slower Traffic Keep Right" are basically the same with some slight differences.

      "Keep Right Except To Pass" is probably a better term to use than "STKR". They both aim to make our roads and freeways safer. "Keep Right except to pass" requires motorists to drive in the right lane except to pass or turn left, and after passing to return to the right lane. "STKR" recommends that slower motorists drive in the right lane unless passing or turning left or to yield to overtaking traffic if they are driving in the left lane.

      I should have named this TED conversation, How best to educate the public as to the importance of the "Keep Right Except to Pass law" (also known as the Slower "Traffic Keep Right law") in respect to public safety. This would have eliminated the whole speed argument of this conversation. But it is best to get both sides of this issue to truly address the problem.

      There are many motorists that do not know or understand the "STKR" law or choose to disregard it because they are driving at the speed limit and they feel that they do not have to yield to a motorist that is exceeding the speed limit. This makes our roads and freeways less safe.

      I am glad that you, "agree that those who choose to drive below the posted maximum speed limit should observe the STKR rule". Why should this not apply to all motorists if it makes our roads and freeways safer?

      (continued)
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      Nov 10 2012: (continued)

      Let me give you a few scenarios.

      1. The true representation of current traffic conditions. Motorists drive at different speeds, at, above and below the posted speed limits. This is a very dangerous combination. "Slower Traffic Keep Right" is not only the law, it is also a guide for how motorists of differing speeds can share the road safely and efficiently.

      2. If no motorist exceeded the posted speed limit. Motorists drive at differing speeds, at or below the posted speed limit. There would be many motorists driving below the posted speed limit in the passing lane(s) impeding the free flow of traffic. Resulting in the same problem that we have with current traffic conditions without the excessive speed argument. This scenario would be safer than current traffic conditions but not as safe as it could be. This is not a realistic situation unless we can get all motorists to obey the posted speed limits.

      3. All motorists obeying both the posted speed limit and the "STKR" laws (Ideal situation number #1). If all motorists obeyed these laws at all times, or roads and freeways would be very safe. This is the situation that we strive for, but it is not very realistic.

      4. All motorists driving the same speed (Ideal situation number #2). If all motorists would drive the same speed, impeding the free flow of traffic would not be an issue and we would not be having this conversation. Our roads would be very safe. This is not a realistic situation.

      The only way to maximize safety in the first three scenarios is for all motorists to obey the "STKR" laws. If you can agree that "STKR" should be observed in scenario #2. Then why can you not agree that "STKR" should be observed in scenario #1. These scenarios illustrate that this is a safety issue, not a speed issue. We must address this problem under current traffic conditions.

      (continued)
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      Nov 10 2012: (continued)

      Of course if motorists would not exceed the posted speed limits, our roads and freeways would be safer. However, getting people to obey the posted speed limit is not the topic of this conversation. And quite frankly getting all motorist to obey the posted speed limit signs would be as or more difficult than getting all motorists to obey the "STKR" law. Neither of which is very realistic.

      If all motorists would obey the "Slower Traffic Keep Right" laws at all times regardless of speed, our roads and freeways would be much safer. This is the issue that we face under current traffic conditions. Obeying the posted speed limit is very important, but so is obeying the "STKR" law.

      Slower Traffic Keep Right is the law in most states. This is not just my personal opinion. If one motorist chooses not to obey a law because another motorist is not obeying a different law, does this make it acceptable? Do two wrongs make a right?

      What would you say to a motorist driving below the speed limit in the left lane(s) about observing the "STKR" law? And how would you justify your position?

      I see how you could associate my name with speed. No, I am not related to Craig Breedlove. No land speed records here.
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        Nov 11 2012: I apologize for accusing you of inappropriate motives on the issue of faster moving vehicles, I'm happy to hear you are safe, law-adiding driver. It is a citable offense in my state to interfere with the normal flow of traffic. That may be going too fast, too slow, or weaving from lane to lane, etc. I suspect most states have similar laws and I know interstate highways do. So are you simply advocating that there is a need to raise awareness of the value, or importance of the existing law?
        By the way, doesn't "Keep Right Except To Pass" boil-down to a requirement that while driving in the left lane I must move to the right every time a vehicle approaches me from behind? What if I am driving at or above the posted legal speed limit? Am I obilgated to move right? Of course not!
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          Nov 12 2012: No need to apologize Mr. Long. There are 2 sides to this story and you are entitled to your opinion. I didn't take it personally. I have been trying to raise awareness about the importance of this law for quite some time. I truly believe that this is a safety issue. If I had the funding I would commission a study on this law. It is long overdue. It is a law in most states, there should be some data to justify why.

          I was speaking to a patrolman in Texas one time and he told me that if he saw a motorist in the left lane with several vehicles behind them, he would pull them over and have a talk with them. I asked him at what speed and he said it didn't matter. I don't know what their official policy is, this is just how this particular patrolman said he handled the situation.

          "Keep Right Except To Pass" boils down to driving in the right lane and only using the left lane to pass or turn left. So driving in the left lane would be considered a violation. If you did pass and were driving in the left lane, you would be required to move right after passing whether or not there was an overtaking motorist.

          I imagine in some states if you are driving above the posted speed limit in the left lane you are not obligated to move right for an overtaking motorist. However, in some states I would imagine that you would have to move right. If a faster motorist wants to pass, he or she will eventually get around you. In the interest of safety would it not make sense to move right and let them pass without forcing them to pass on the right, possibly cutting you off.

          I am not justifying their speed, I am just stating as a motorist, I will do everything in my power to increase my personal safety. I do yield to overtaking traffic at any speed. If there is another motorist in front of me, I generally do not move right for a motorist that approaches from behind. However, there are times that I do, especially if they are driving erratic or tailgating very closely.

          (cont)
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          Nov 12 2012: (continued)

          There are several Fire and EMS Chiefs that fully endorse this program. I have successfully integrated "STKR" with the need to yield to emergency vehicles with lights and sirens on. They are related in some ways. Many motorists that do not obey the "STKR" law are the same motorists that impede the response of emergency vehicles. My organization is saving lives as you are reading this. Check out the following links:

          http://www.keeprightusa.com/news.html
          http://www.americakeepright.com/ (click on your state)

          Mr. Long, I read your bio. Thank you for your service to our country. I would hope that you seek the Truth in this issue. Is it about other motorists exceeding the speed limit, or is it a safety issue? You cannot control what other motorists do, but by obeying the "Slower Traffic Keep Right" law, you can increase safety for yourself and those in your immediate vicinity. This is the Truth as I see it.
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        Nov 12 2012: I appreciate your passion on this issue but I do need more convincing if you are so inclined. Specifically I would like to know your answer to the question I posed previously and repeat here:
        " . . . doesn't "Keep Right Except To Pass" boil-down to a requirement that while driving in the left lane I must move to the right every time a vehicle approaches me from behind? What if I am driving at or above the posted legal speed limit? Am I obilgated to move right?
        If the answer to that question is "yes" then I do not see how that is not granting the same authority to criminal speed violators that we do to emergency vehicles. Also, you seem to speak only of two-lane roads. What about multi-lane freeways? Are the outer lanes just for those who want to pass the vehicles in the right lane? Does everyone drive in the right lane? If so, doesn't that make merging onto the freeway difficult? I am not being obstinate. My questions are sincere. Thank you.
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          Nov 12 2012: Mr. Long, I did answer your question.

          "Keep Right Except To Pass" boils down to driving in the right lane and only using the left lane to pass or turn left. So driving in the left lane would be considered a violation. If you did pass and were driving in the left lane, you would be required to move right after passing whether or not there was an overtaking motorist.

          I have tried to keep the conversation somewhat simple. There are many factors when you speak of multi-lane freeways. Slower traffic should keep right. Depending on the amount of traffic, not everyone can drive in the right lane. And yes merging onto the freeway may be more difficult, but overall traffic safety and traffic congestion will improve.

          Passing on the right is a dangerous practice. Who is to blame? The motorist passing or the motorist impeding the free flow of traffic? If the motorist passing is exceeding the posted speed limit, they can be blamed. But if the passing motorist is not exceeding the posted speed limit, they cannot be blamed. However, the motorist impeding the free flow of traffic can be blamed in all scenarios.

          If this law is not that important, then why are there "STKR" signs on almost all roads and freeways? The signs are there to improve safety, not promote speeding.

          You haven't answered my questions.

          What would you say to a motorist driving below the speed limit in the left lane(s) about observing the "STKR" law? And how would you justify your position?

          I'm trying to understand your position. I have stated several times that I do not condone speeding. I am trying to address this as a safety issue. I will never convince you that this is a safety issue if you can only see this as a speed issue. You seem to be an intelligent man, can you recognize that there is a safety factor at play here?

          I have tried to make a convincing argument that this law is important in terms of safety. But to only recognize one side of the argument will not further this conversation.
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        Nov 12 2012: Sorry, I overlooked your question about what I would say to the person driving SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW the posted legal speed limit. I would say one of two things: You are driving in such a way that you are interfering with the normal flow of traffic and that is a citable offense because it creates a danger/hazard; OR, I would say, you are ignoring the POSTED advisory (not a citable offense) to keep right BECAUSE you are driving significantly below the posted legal speed limit. I am listening to your argument Mr. Breedlove. I simply do not agree that ALL TRAFFIC on a road of two or more lanes should be in the right lane except to overtake another vehice. I know your position based upon your lucid explanation and still I hold a different opinion. Thank you!
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    Nov 8 2012: Mr. Winner, Thank you for your service to the community. I am sure that you have valuable insight into this problem that we are discussing. I say it's not about speed, you say it is. We can agree to disagree, but let's address the topic of this conversation.

    I am not advocating for people to drive faster or for motorists to yield to faster drivers for the sake of speed. I label motorists as slower, not slow. There is a difference.

    You are correct, if the speed limit signs said 55 and everyone drove 55, this problem and this conversation would not exist. However, if the signs said 55 and nobody exceeded the speed limit (thus eliminating your speed argument), there would be many motorists that would drive below the speed limit, still resulting in the issues that impeding the free flow of traffic cause.

    Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world. If we did, nobody would exceed the speed limit, and all motorists would obey the Slower Traffic Keep Right laws at all times. Our roads and freeway would be significantly safer.

    Now let's look at how motorists really drive. Some drive at the speed limit, below the speed limit and over the speed limit. There are laws against speeding that are enforced, although ticketing all motorists that speed is virtually impossible. There are also laws against driving too slow on most freeways and highways. The law that we are discussing here is Slower Traffic Keep Right. It is on the books in most states, and some states actually promote and enforce this law, such as Colorado.

    Can you agree with me that we are not going to eliminate speeding? Again, I do not condone speeding. So taking this into account, do you think that if motorists obeyed the Slower Traffic Keep Right law under current conditions, would our roads and freeways be safer?

    As a young man I did get a few speeding tickets. But now that I am older I am a much safer driver. I usually drive with the flow of traffic, often in the right lane.
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    Nov 8 2012: Florida found, to it's great surprise, that when it raised the speed limit from 55 to 80 on its Toll-road, traffic fatalities plummeted.

    Government intrudes too deeply in my life already. Enough!
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    Nov 8 2012: Mr. Winner, Thank you for your input. We need pros and cons to truly engage in a meaningful conversation. However, all that you comment about is speed (read your comment again). Slower Traffic Keep Right does not promote speeding. At no point do you make any mention of motorists that impede the free flow of traffic.

    If you would have read this whole conversation you would have seen the following statements that I made previously. "I do not condone speeding" and "Many of these faster motorists need to exercise patience and not weave in and out of traffic." This is a traffic safety campaign, not a movement for speeders. I have had this conversation many times about speed vs. safety. So let me ask you some important questions to fully understand your logic.

    What is your opinion of motorists that drive below the speed limit in the passing lanes? Do you believe in passing lanes?

    I agree that motorists in California often drive 20 MPH and higher above the speed limit. This is very dangerous. Driving with the "flow at the faster speed" to avoid a ticket from the CHP is not a sound driving practice. Would you rather drive in the passing lanes and have all of the faster motorists pass you on the right? Do you think that this is safe?

    I do live in California, but I was born is Colorado and raised in New Mexico. I noticed that you live in Arizona. I have traveled through Arizona many, many times and in my personal opinion, Arizona motorists are some of the worst violators of the Slower Traffic Keep Right law. From the Arizona/California border westbound, there seems to be a disproportionate number of motorists with Arizona plates impeding the free flow of traffic (driving slowly in the passing lanes). This is an observation that I have made time and again when returning to California.

    If you want to drive the posted speed limit, drive in the proper lane. You are not the speed police, or are you? How can you choose to obey some laws and not others?
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      Nov 8 2012: I am retired law enforcement. Yes the majority of the speeders coming through Arizona were from California and New Mexico ... they were also the majority of the acidents we experienced.

      Driving the speed limit in California is dangerious in my experience. If as you say the speed is often 20+ MPH over the posted speed ... then the slow drivers are doing the proper and posted speed and are labeled slow traffic in your words.

      So again speed is the problem. If the sign said 55 and everyone did 55 this problem would not exist nor would this conversation.

      Jesse, I wish you well but please slow down (if you speed) ... The worst experience is watching people die trying to get there 10 minutes faster. There are valid reasons for speed laws.

      Bob "the ex speed police" LOL.
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    Nov 8 2012: Mr. Anjorin, Thank you for your input and support. I have been working on this movement for over 8 years. I have generated a fair amount of media attention. This is a one man operation, my personal vision of how to improve traffic safety. I will not give up on this campaign!

    I have been fortunate enough to have several Fire and EMS Chiefs not only support this movement but to also formally endorse it. Check out this link http://www.newmexicokeepright.com.

    A sponsor would go a long way in spreading this message through the use of billboards, radio and television ads.
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    Nov 7 2012: Jesse, I notice that you are from California. When we travel to Cal I try to drive at the posted speed limit. The bulk of the traffic is progressing at approximately 20 MPH (or more) over the posted limit. I was talking to some locals and they said to drive with the flow at the faster speed as the CHIPs will not try to stop all of the violators.

    You state that this is not a speed issue. How can it not be when you exceed the posted legal speed limit? You state that this is a safety issue. I agree ... excessive speed will certainly kill. If driving at the posted speed causes agressive driving and road rage then those drivers displaying those tendencies should be removed from the road as you stated driving is a privlege and removing those dangerous drivers is in the best interest of the general public.

    By the way when there I drive near the center of the road to give me time to prepare for exit and to stay out of the way of the dangerous drivers. Also at the posted speed limit.

    And that is the rest of the story ..... Guess this does not help your movement for speeders. Sorry.
  • Nov 7 2012: How best to educate the public? Campaigns.
    Online, billboards, newspapers......all media. Sponsors would be needed. But its a good cause for road safety. It wont be hard to appreciate.
  • Nov 7 2012: I love Lejan's expression: "but if the rule is not to stick with a rule, it thereby becomes the rule."
    Slower Traffic keep right is what should be known by drivers/motorists as the norm; and law enforcement agencies should rise to their duty. But I think this issue is one of the cases where people go to sleep after a law has been given. Like Colleen Steen noted in one of the TED conversations about environmental law enforcement, sometimes enlightened citizens have to make sure that governments and citizens remain aware of certain existing laws that are easy to forget (probably due to the sacrifice that they require). Like in he case of laws against discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, religion etc we have to make sure that in this case (slow traffic keep right) we pursue attitudinal change; which is a necessity for safety on our roads.
    Sometimes laws are just the beginning of freedom or the first step on the path to the right thing; but we go no further if we do not remind ourselves continually.

    Jesse Breedlove, don't give up on the campaign.
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    Nov 7 2012: Lejan,

    Thank you for your input. Can you elaborate more on your experience with the 'German Autobahn'? Would you consider it safer than the roads and freeways here in America?

    Slower Traffic Keep Right is the law in most states. Just because we have our own 'nature' of driving does not make it right. This must change. I do not condone speeding, but the main safety factor that motorists who impede the free flow of traffic cause is that they force faster motorists to pass on the right. This is not the only negative effect that is caused by this issue, it also leads to aggressive driving and road rage.

    I live in California and have done my share of commuting. I see it every time that I get on the freeways. Faster motorists are going to get around slower motorists at any speed, whether the traffic is heavy or light. Many of these faster motorists need to exercise patience and not weave in and out of traffic. However, our roads and freeways would be much safer if slower motorists would yield to faster motorists and all passing is done on the left. Slower Traffic Keep Right is not only the law but a guide.

    There are many motorists that get in one lane, usually the left or passing lanes, and stay there without any concern for anyone else on the road. This is a dangerous practice.

    When I first started discussing this issue with police officers, I would ask, "What do you think about motorists that impede the free flow of traffic?" They would usually answer, "At what speed?" And I would say, "At any speed." This would usually turn into a conversation about speeding. I now answer with, "I'm not talking speed, I'm talking about safety." And now almost every time they respond with, "It is against the law."

    Most drivers would agree that Slower Traffic Keep Right is a common practice of defensive driving. How do we get all motorists to exercise this practice on a daily basis? I believe that we can make it a reality.
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      Nov 8 2012: I did not notice any difference in safety in between your freeways and the Autobahn as long as you blend into each specific 'nature'. When I returned home, after one year of 'freeways', I was puzzeled again by the 'Autobahn'. Everything happened on much higher speed to which I just wasn't used to anymore and for the first days it felt much more 'agressive'. But then again I blended in and things became normal.

      I can have this feeling even in one single day when I drive to the Netherland or Belgium for example. Their speed limit on freeways is 74,56 mph. The moment I enter, it feels like 'snail speed' and if nothing was moving at all. But after a while, things change and because the rest of the traffic is the same, it becomes normal. On my way home, it goes the other way arround and the 'Autobahn' feels a bit more agressive and restless for some while due to the relative nature of speed.

      In average, Europe follows the 'Slower Traffic Keep Right' law more consistently compared to what I have seen along the east coast of the USA. If this my observation is representative, I don't know, but that's what I experienced.

      By the laws of physics and human reflexes, the 'German Autobahn' can only be the worst scenario of all, even if the ''Slower Traffic Keep Right' law is followed, but statistically and compared to the US, the picture is different:

      Traffic fatalities per million citizen in 2010 (30 days scope) - Wikipedia

      105 USA
      45 Germany

      So it seems there are other reason as well, which have an input on general traffic savety.
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    Nov 7 2012: So if there is not much to 'estimate', people prepare for the worst and pay more attention, and if they don't, any slower car would be a potential risk to them regardless of the side they are coming from...

    Compared to my former 'world of experience' I noticed a much more dangerous trend among US car drivers, which took me a while to realize and to sense its repetitive and intentional pattern. Younger males, especially in older pickup trucks drove noticeably in a way stating 'I am to big to crush, are you?', which didn't really add to the overall road safety. Especially if car and driver did not mind any more scratches...

    I also noticed a lot of drunk driving among young people, especially students, which seemed to gain their 'dinking experience' at higher yet 'legal' ages as I was used to.

    I don't know what it is today, but at 1999/2000 there still was no federal law for safety belts, which to me is more of a cause of heavy injuries and death in traffic. So I hope, this has changed for a better.
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    Nov 7 2012: Honestly, I do not see any increase in public safety in the 'Slower Traffic Keep(s) Right' as by the nature of speed differences, it just can't stay there...

    Any nation I have been to and on their streets seem to have there very own 'nature' of driving. Coming from the 'German Autobahn' and used to speed and discipline, your highways didn't just seem slow but also anarchic to me. And besides 'slow', I am of course exaggerating here... :o)

    Because my German drivers licence was accepted and did not require any additional practical or theoretical driving lessons in your country, I found myself off leash and on the roads and highly puzzeled at the very beginning. Beautiful and wide lanes, lots of them and anybody at any slow speed randomly distributed and passing each other at either side. Not knowing any better, I thought this was the rule and blended in. Month later I was told, that there actually was the same rule than the one I was used to, yet in practice no one really cared about it and those who did, did not stand out. That was interesting, but if the rule is not to stick with a rule, it thereby becomes the rule.

    What I noticed in change of my original driving habit was, to expect anything at any given time and on all possible lanes. By this I was driving not less, but even more carefully and my attention was unshared the moment I was switching lanes at any side.

    A situation can turn dangerous just because we do not expect it to be. Our attention fades, routine takes over and the risk is on the rise. If you go a 124 mph at daytime on a German Autobahn, your senses spread out in front of you much wider and you are constantly checking the situation of other cars and the possibilities for slow cars to come into your lane. In busy traffic, just idiots go that fast. But the risk is not at 124 it is at 75 mph were speed does not appear that 'fast' in modern cars. In this case, it is underestimation what kills the cat.