Has your analyst ever inquired about your lane preferences when driving? She should, for your choices probably reveal as much about your personality as any other of the classic indicators. Indeed behav­ior in the driver’s seat is likely to be as rich in psychological insights as our recollections from the couch. We’re concerned here with peo­ple who, consciously or otherwise, seem to gravitate to the same lane most all the time and are uncomfortable traveling anywhere else. What does it all mean?

Let’s turn our attention first to right lane people. Close observa­tion reveals that they generally are stable individuals, are not espe­cially venturesome, remain in their lanes and are not in any particu­lar rush. Habitues of the right lane, furthermore, tend to frequent rest stops and are more likely to pull over for scenic overviews. Overall they’re older, content to drive slowly, rarely above the speed limit, and wish to avoid being pressured from behind. They resent the fact that motorists in the other two lanes constantly pass them by, but console themselves with the thought that these are “wild” drivers, practically out of control, a danger to themselves and to oth­ers. Accordingly the right lane for them represents security and rela­tive peace of mind. In the event of a problem they can, with ease, move onto the shoulder and out of harm’s way. At other times, when preparing to exit, they need but execute a simple and safe maneuver from the right lane and head off the highway. Right-lane folks are, in short, your solid citizens who rarely call attention to themselves and are content to occupy a position on the highway the majority of drivers generally prefer to avoid.

Center-lane people are certifiable middle-of-the-roaders, com­promisers unwilling to commit to either side (and occasionally pass­ing-lane veterans who, over time, have “aged out”). Speed pressures in the passing lane intimidate them, while the right lane strikes them as unacceptably slow and unduly troublesome owing to the contin­ual disruptions occasioned by entering and exiting traffic. Greater calm and continuity ordinarily prevails in the middle lane. There one also has choice and flexibility, is able to move directly to either side as opportunities develop. Middle-of-the-road folk are a valued buffer between travelers in the other two lanes, whose occupants, so different in style and temperament would be distinctly uncomfort­able driving alongside each other. Middle-of-the-roaders tend to be more social, enjoy keeping track of cars both to their left and right. These folks are the most open and tolerant, the least rigid of the three groupings and will accommodate drivers both to the left and right when they move over, as they sometimes do, to positions in the center.

The passing lane off to the left is a more exclusive section of the road, not for the risk-averse, faint of heart, or those advanced in years. Here speed limits rarely are observed. Indeed those driving at or slightly above these limits can expect to be pressured in various ways to move over. These antisocial speedsters—cool, confident, and aggressive—resent “outsiders” occupying their turf and impeding their movement. Though intended principally for passing, fast-lane drivers generally stay put, showing little interest in mingling with folk in the other two lanes. When and if they do, they remain but briefly, occupying these other lanes simply as preparation for a rapid return to the fast track. Clearly their supreme pleasure comes from aggressively outpacing the “competition” and proving, at least to themselves, that in speed there is status.

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