This is why driving in the US will NEVER be as good as driving in Germany.
The Grand Tour's second season is well underway, and the second episode brought back the old school Top Gear race between a car and public transport. The car in question was the all-new Ford GT, driven by Jeremy Clarkson. The race was conducted in the US, to see if the car could get from New York to Niagara Falls faster than public transport. The entire episode centered around Clarkson in the car and Hammond and May on public transport, but we wanted to pay extra attention to something that Clarkson pointed out while he was driving.
While driving on the New York highway, Clarkson got stuck behind a Ford Fusion that was clearly going below the speed limit. This wouldn't have been so bad if the Fusion wasn't driving in the left lane, which is meant only for passing. If you'd like to see the exact moment that we are referring to, simply skip to 57:25 in season 2 episode 2. Clarkson has to slam on his brakes, and tailgate the Fusion, which is extremely dangerous. In order to get around the traffic, Clarkson had to move over into the right lane and undertake the slower cars in the left lane. This not only extremely dangerous, but is highly illegal in Europe.
Clarkson was surprised that undertaking is very common in the US, and is pretty much the only way to pass slow drivers. In fact, passing in the right lane is illegal in many states. Both Michigan and Nevada have outlawed this practice, but even in those states most drivers are completely unaware of this rule. We chalk this up to poor education, because getting a driver's license in the US is easier than most European countries. We only had to parallel park, then drive for a few minutes without making any mistakes to get ours. Each state has a different driving age, and some states allow kids as young as 14-years old to start learning.
We are so happy the Clarkson dedicated a few moments in the episode to talk about the terrible driving in the US. There are so many reasons why driving in the left lane can be dangerous. Some people wrongly believe that there is a direct correlation between driving fast and driving dangerously. Anyone who has ever witnessed the derestricted German Autobahn can prove these people wrong. The biggest difference between German and American drivers is that German drivers actually pay attention to the act of driving. Clarkson is quick to point out that one of the biggest problems with lane discipline in the US is that drivers simply don’t use their mirrors.
When a faster car approaches from behind, many people are completely unaware that they need to move over. This impedes the flow of traffic, and forces faster drivers to make numerous lane changes just to get buy. When traffic bunches up, this drastically increases the chances of getting into an accident. In countries that have better lane discipline, like Germany and Great Britain, highway fatality rates are lower than in the US. It’s very simple, the left lane should be reserved for people who need to pass and are moving faster than the flow of traffic. Anyone who is not passing should be in one of the right lanes, especially semi trucks.
The problem in the US is that too many people simply camp out in the left lane and don’t pay attention to people that come up behind them. We want this ridiculous trend to end, and unfortunately we can’t force people to go to driving school in order to learn the rules of the road. Obviously, people should know how to drive properly before they are issued a license, but it doesn’t seem like the US system will change any time soon. What we can do is share this advice and ask our readers to share this article with everyone that they know is guilty of left lane hogging. Help end this annoying aspect of driving in the US, because The Grand Tour just pointed out how bad our drivers are compared to the rest of the world.