The Reckoner!

Help! Driver's Dilemma! Should I drive closer to the middle line or the shoulder on a two-lane highway?

I have to clarify this question, noting that my husband and I do not see eye-to-eye with each other's driving.  I have come to the conclusion that this is normal for a couple who has been around the block as many times as we have, so there are always comments made when we are on the road together!

However the one argument that always arises is: where do you drive when you are driving on a two lane highway?

My husband feels strongly that you should drive closest to the middle line and criticizes me for driving too close to the shoulder. He argues that it seems like I'm driving off the road, and that driving close to the center line gives you two directions to dodge in a jam -- either into the other lane or onto the shoulder.

In my defense, I drive closest to the shoulder because if someone is passing in the other lane or driving too close or over the the center line, it is easier to avoid a head on collision. You can quickly swerve on to the shoulder. Also, if there are big rigs and large loads coming in the other lane, I do not want to be too close to them as they hog their lane.

So Reckonauts help settle this arguement once and for all! I will abide by your decision!

Reckoning Results!
WINNER!
Closer to Middle Line
Closer to the Shoulder
Listen to Your Husband!
See your point!
44.4%
(67)
55.6%
(84)
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Reckoning Comments!

Ideally, you should drive right in the middle of your lane, equidistant from botht the center line and the shoulder.  I don't know that being closer to either side is going to be preferable to just being in the middle of the lane.


Driving with a bias to the left side of the lane has a number of advantages. As stated, in an emergency situation there is a greater option to steer to either side..not just to the left.  Anything entering your lane from the right (animal, car, person, etc.) has to go a bit further before hitting your car.

Staying a bit to the left in the lane also puts you nearer to top of the road's crown making the car track better and not drift right.  Also, tire damaging objects (nails, sharp stones, metal objects) tend to work their way to the side of the road.  Staying away from the shoulder area, slightly reduces the chance of a puncture. The road's crown is designed to flow water and oil residue to the shoulder which sometimes collects into puddles which can cause aquaplaining.

Hanging to the right of the lane, especially on Pennsylvania roads that have no shoulder, a moments inattention and you're wheel is off the road. If a car comes into your lane in the other direction, you still have the option to go right or in some circumstances go left to avoid contact.

I say a bias to the left of the lane is better!


I'm a center-line guy, because while you can see everything that's coming from the opposing lane, things can dart out from the shoulder at any time. This is especially true in the city, where you're never more than a femtosecond away from somebody with earbuds on jaywalking to their peril right in front of you.

I do remember once when I was in The Official DC Friend of The Reckoner's Ford Festiva in high school, a Fuso-brand commercial truck crossed into our lane and passed close enough to lift us off of our shocks through sheer air pressure.  That's why I remember exactly the brand of the truck. When something like that happens, time goes a little slower to notice details.


By the way, center of the lane is fine.  But, we're in a husband/wife scrap over this so things get more extreme. Ha! I'm talking about a foot or so the left while Linda's right wheels hug the white line at the edge of the road and it makes me nervous.


I'd say it depends on what's to the right or left of your lane.

As a general rule, I try to be perfectly centered in my lane, unless it's raining; then I try to offset my wheels from the watery ruts.

If it's a two-lane road with a concrete barrier down the middle, it's only natural to stay toward the right side. If there's no shoulder, there's probably less traffic and it would feel natural to hug the centerline, if there is a stripe at all. Where I grew up, it's common to drive right down the middle of the entire roadway. :-)

I wonder how the outcome of this poll would change if the gender roles were reversed. Do we males tend to agree with other males on these "practical matters"?

I'll bet Click and Clack would say "center of your lane."


@ Jason: Awesome Click and Clack reference. I like to imagine their voices in my head as I make these calls in my own driving life. 


In the day-light - stay in the center

At night, especially in the rain, I track to the right.

I do this because often I can see the white line on the right better when cars are coming at me with their lights on.  I focus my eyes on the right white line and not on the oncoming headlights, when it passes I resume my continuous "cylon" like left to right sweeping (lots of deer around my neck of the woods).  Plus, at night with oncoming headlights blinding your vision - you never really know how wide the oncoming vehicle is.  This was a trick my Dad taught me when learning to drive and its stuck with me ever since.  It's especially tricky driving at night in the rain because of the nasty habit of PA county's and townships of using non-reflective paint on black top serviced roads - rendering the lane markers useless.

So in effect, she's more right than her husband, but neither one is completely right - that spot is reserved for me ;)


@Bryan Hunter

'Cylon'-like sweeping -- by goodness, you're absolutely right.  I do the same thing.  I imagine that Cylons are pretty good drivers, on the whole.


The Reckoner!