When I was growing up and all throughout the nearly 30 years that I lived in New York State, I never recall observing any truckers driving in the passing lane – particularly on highways and thruways – at least for any longer than it took to pass slower vehicles and return to the “slow” or “truck” lane. Ever since I began living in the Southern United States 15 years ago, I keep seeing more and more truckers (especially semi-truck and big-rig truck drivers) actually driving in the passing lane. And, those whom I see are typically driving very fast and are not just passing to pass – they are trucking along in the passing lane.
On the highways around Atlanta, Georgia, the typical speed limit is between 65-70 miles per hour, which is really already more than fast enough. Driving at high rates of speed creates less control of a vehicle, but when truckers are driving even faster than the speed limit – and in the passing lane – it’s a recipe for disaster. There are too many truckers taking too many risks on the road, with driving too fast, driving in the passing lane, and thinking they are able to control their rigs (when they can’t) at those rates of speed.
For these reasons, and because there is so, so much truck traffic on the highways all throughout the South, I am very hesitant to drive on them, particularly with any family members riding with me. I do my best to be a defensive driver. If I see someone being reckless, I hang back. Those who are driving fast, I just let them go right on by.
Last summer, I was driving north on 85 out of Atlanta, and a driver in a car passed me at – I would estimate – 100 miles per hour or faster. I prayed that the driver would not kill themselves or others as I expected for an accident to occur. Surely enough, I eventually got up the road a bit further on 985 about 10 minutes after the driver passed me, and found that he/she had crossed the grass median, crossed the double-lane highway on the other side, and was in the woods.
This driver has nothing to do with truckers, however the example is one that reflects the high rates of speed at which most people drive in the South. I am proud that nearly all drivers pass me on the highway. I am content to travel at the speed limit, and will happily move over and give much room to those who fly by so fast that I can’t even read their license plate number.
Back to the truckers, however, it really got to me today when I was doing business in and near Buford, Georgia that I photographed two semi-trucks in the passing lanes of the highways. Now, certainly, it is not illegal for truckers to drive in the passing lane, however it makes the roads less safe for everyone traveling on them. One trucker was driving in the passing lane for at least two miles on 985 near Suwanee, and a driver of a Coca-Cola semi-truck was driving in the passing lane on Buford Drive just south of the Mall of Georgia for five or more miles.
It is tiresome to regularly observe truckers driving in the passing lane, creating potentially unsafe situations for other drivers, and just plain not following the rules of the road. Too many truckers have no regard for drivers in vehicles with babies, young children, or the elderly. And, typically, I observe young male drivers take too many risks in their vehicles by cutting off and swerving in and out of lanes to get around truckers. This just puts everyone on the road at risk of injury or death.
The need for speed in the South is obviously much greater than a respect and appreciation for life and safety. Every time people drive on the road, they are at risk, but the risks can be reduced if everyone drives more slowly and safely. But, unfortunately, I know that’s not going to happen.