Don’t lollygag in cars, COVID

This newspaper recently ran a letter to the editor from a Makawao reader offering polite advice to slow drivers who insist on cruising our multilane highways in the passing lane: Activate your turn signal, merge right and let faster-moving vehicles pass on the left.

We always wonder what those drivers are thinking as the line grows behind them. Do they notice the dozens of frustrated eyes staring lasers through their rear windows? Are they aware of the rules of the road? Did they somehow miss the news that the Hawaii State Legislature passed a law against vehicular lollygagging in 2017?

The keep-right driving law enacted July 1, 2017, states that “vehicular lollygagging, or the problem of slow drivers in the far-left lane of roadways, creates dangerous situations, starts traffic jams, incites road rage and persists despite state law requiring drivers traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic to use the right lane.” Since lollygagging was already illegal, the act basically instructs the Department of Transportation and county police departments to develop and implement a public awareness campaign.

Four years later, we look forward to hearing more about that. Let’s veer back to what is going through the minds of left-lane slowpokes. What do they make of the cars snaking behind their 1982 Toyota Tercel? Are they oblivious to them, or perhaps taking smug joy in tormenting strangers? Do they fancy themselves as vigilante speed limit enforcers? Perceive the left lane as somehow better, a “special” lane just for them?

The fact is driving in the left lane is more dangerous. Head-on collisions are far more likely in the left lane, especially on our undivided highways. Which lane would you rather be in if you suddenly pop a tire? Mix a timid driver clogging the passing lane with an aggressive speedster and you have a recipe for disaster. One taps the brake for green lights and the other gases it on yellow.

Driving is an endless ballet where things run smoothest when everybody sticks to the choreography. Hurtling around in heavy metal boxes, we hold each other’s lives in our hands.

What a fine metaphor for the importance of COVID-19 vaccines. This is no time to putter in history’s passing lane. The Hawaii State Department of Health is investigating 21 clusters of the disease on Maui. Fueled by a new, highly transmissible variant of the virus, the pandemic is surging in states and countries around the world.

This novel coronavirus is going to be with us for years, generations. For some victims it causes serious illness and long-lasting negative effects. Others die alone and afraid. By protecting ourselves, our families and friends, we also do our part to protect society as a whole. If you have not been vaccinated, please don’t be slow. Sign up and get your jab.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.


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