While I do not comment much about road trips its usually because there is nothing worth talking about or anything worth talking about is accompanied by every four letter word I can think of. My latest trip was very different, in a good way, and that surprised me. Highways tend to come in every shape an size, but there are only two forms of them. The first form is the “open road,” being a highway with little traffic where you can set the cruise and just go. The open road is exactly what I want when I’m towing my race car, where all I have to do is set the cruise and drive with no hassles. The other form is the proverbial “traffic jam,” No I’m not talking about I-495 around DC during rush hour. I’m talking about people in every lane of traffic side by side driving the same speed. We’ve all seen this phenomena and I’m sure we’ve all been irritated as these people see no problem in blocking the faster moving cars, causing a traffic jam at 55.
This past weekend I prepared for exactly that on the PA turnpike. I was traveling from DC to Pittsburgh and I expected the worst from the PA turnpike. Like years before I was expecting a four hour drive to easily turn into a horrible 6 hour drive, because I knew I was going to sit behind people doing the speed limit. As I entered the turnpike and blazed though the toll booths I was greeted by an unexpected sign “Passing on the Left. Slower traffic keep right.” Now I’ve seen these signs before and they do nothing, but as I traversed further onto the Turnpike I learned that people actually listened to those signs!
There I was doing 80 and passing people on the left only! There were only a few times I had to turn the cruise off and pause to let a someone overtake a slower car. The overtaker would then get back into the right lane as soon as they could and I was on my merry way again. Now I’m normally on the faster end of highway travelers, averaging 10-15 over the posted limit. Because of this I’m normally the one thats caught in “traffic” and having to cross over a few lanes to pass people. This was different, it was heaven, nirvana, pure bliss I tell you! The only highway I could equate this type of driving to is the autobahn. Same laws, same observant people, and just like in Germany, it was a very efficient style of driving. It was the most pleasant highway driving I’ve done in years and it was completely unexpected. There were only two instances where I passed someone on the right, and before you ask, yes they were out of state plates. Otherwise it was a very organized process.
Thus I’d have to think of the PA Turnpike as the American Autobahn. Smooth sailing from one side to the other with no fussing at all. While common courtesy may have been replaced by laws, it works and that’s all that matters.