Do you drive in the right or the left lane?

Published 9:43 am Monday, May 11, 2015

There is a quote by St. Augustine that says “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I love this quote but it also brings to mind that I probably write the same page over and over again because I travel to the same places over and over again. One of those places, as you all know, is Iowa, because I always find a story in Iowa.

Today I want to warn traveler’s that travel I-35 through Iowa. The Gestapo is out in full force, always. There is never a time when we travel to and from Des Moines when we don’t see some sort of enforcement.

What we see varies. On a few trips we have seen law enforcement have a car pulled over to the side of the road. The car is surrounded by State Patrol cars and vans. Usually when we see that configuration we also see dogs sniffing at the car. Anyone viewing that situation can guess what is happening.

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Then we have the state trooper hiding somewhere along the freeway. It might be a coincidence that there is a plane in the air. Do they still have plane surveillance of speeders, formerly called a speed trap? If you are lucky and you are not the speeder, you will travel a few more miles to see a couple other patrol cars having different people pulled over.

This trip, the car driver and I were conversing about speed, namely the speed our vehicle was traveling. The driver pointed out that we were being passed at an increasing rate even though our speed was somewhat over the speed limit. I am one of those people that feel the speed limit is the speed limit. It is there for a reason.

Does that mean I never speed? No, I do, but not on purpose. I am weird, I don’t like cruise control. For me, cruise control puts me into a daydream state which means I do not pay as close attention to my driving as I need to. It is too easy to drift away in thought. That is just me, and possibly it is because I always have another story in my head. If I am speeding it is by accident when I come off the freeway onto a side road. Usually I stay at a steady pace on the road, especially on freeways, because going faster than 70 scares me.

I am probably the erratic, slow driver that all of you mouth words to as you pass. Others probably look at me and say, “Oh, it’s just an old woman driving.” I do that too when I pass a slow car, only to realize that the person I called old is my age.

On this trip we were cruising along when I noticed our car, which was in the right lane, slowed down a few notches. Mr. Sheriff was in the left lane cruising along at about 73 miles per hour. Apparently I need some new instruction in the correct way to drive on a freeway. Mr. Sheriff stayed in the left lane. I looked up the Uniform Vehicle Code which says, “A car driving below the normal speed of traffic should be driving in the right hand lane. According to AAA; right lane for cruising, left lane for passing. Mr. Sheriff clearly was cruising in the left lane, and at 73 mph was the slower car.

It doesn’t come as any surprise that some people don’t understand what the use of the right lane is, especially on hills. I travel to Mankato a couple of times a month and always on the hills where there are two lanes, the slow car never moves over. The faster cars have to move to the right and pass on the right. I am one of those people who wants to yell at the car next to me. At that point, I occasionally can understand road rage. And for the record, I do move over when I am the slow vehicle.

Well, Mr. Cruising Sheriff had a method to his madness I am sure. Because when he was in the left lane, no one passed him in the right lane. We stayed a steady pace behind his vehicle. It gave us a few laughs when the speed demons didn’t realize it was a sheriff until they were on his bumper. They would get one car length in front of us and then, wham, they would back off. For the next 50 miles, until we turned off, it was the sheriff in the left lane, us in the right lane about two car lengths behind the sheriff. Anyone could have passed us, moved to the right and passed Mr. Cruising Sheriff, but they didn’t. I think he was laughing too.

I have to admit it was a good way to slow everyone down. I would also like to point out when he slowed everyone down; he slowed them down to around 73 or 74 mph, still over the speed limit.

We were not in a hurry. Yes, people speed for no good reason. People speed, not because they are in a hurry — well some of them are — but because they can. It isn’t unusual on our journey to Iowa to have people pass us going 80 or 90 mph. How fast is too fast when you are carrying lives in your car?

I can almost guarantee that usually between Ames and Des Moines, drivers think the speed limit is 80, because the speed of drivers we are on the road with always increases on that stretch of road.

Are you a righty lane or a lefty lane when you drive? Are you a cruiser or a passer? Do you know where you belong for whatever role you chose when you are on the road? I think Mr. Sheriff did. He chose the role of enforcer. Maybe he saved a life by doing that. Thank you, Mr. Sheriff, for making us aware of our driving.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at Her Facebook page is