Left Lane Popularity in Tucson

Shortly after arriving in Tucson, I recognized that local residents utilize the left lane of our two lane highways more than the right lane. During my commutes to school, I often find myself alone in the right lane as other cars pack the left lane. I can’t help but wonder why? “Is there an Arizona law preventing the use of the right lane” I ask as I look in the rear view mirror for the police officer that is going to let me in on the secret.

The “left lane” bias has become apparent to me here in Tucson because in Tennessee (my home state), most drivers utilize the right lane and the left lane is reserved for passing. But you will be happy to know that the answer to this phenomenon has revealed itself.

Recently, I have found myself in the right lane alone staring at the back of a Sun Tran bus, Tucson’s public transportation system, while it makes it’s regular stops. It is difficult to pass the Sun Tran bus because often the left lane is packed with locals staring at me as to say “that is why we use the left lane sucker!”

This inconvenience to motorists is what economists refer to as a negative externality or said another way, the cost to society for public transportation (my economics professor would be proud:).

So the next time you find yourself driving in Tucson, remember this economic lesson and use the left lane. It won’t feel natural but when in Rome, do as the Romans do!