Driving in the Virginias

More than 150 years later a new Army of Northern Virginia roams the Shenandoah Valley. This one does not wear gray uniforms and answer to Robert E. Lee. It drives Hondas and Toyotas and Ford 150s and answers to no one. Or so it seems.
You have to have driven on Interstate 81 through Virginia and West Virginia to appreciate what I am talking about. I have been driving for some 50 years. Trained to do so in my native Pennsylvania, I have always known, and respected, the rule that one “drives right, passes left.” There is no such rule in the Virginias.
There, drivers fill both lanes and pass willy-nilly, slipping through openings like a running back squeezing through a hole opened by a pulling guard. Often at 90 miles per hour.
It is not unusual to find oneself in the “passing” lane (at least it’s the “passing” lane where I come from) stuck behind someone going 60 (the speed limit through most of the Virginias is 70), with a tractor-trailer blocking the right lane, when a pick-up zooms past on the right, races up to the bumper of the trailer as if being pulled by a magnet, whips to the left, right in front of the car in front of you, and disappears over the horizon. Only to be seen moments later, also stuck behind a slow driver on the left, as you, against your better judgment but “when in Rome,” cruise by on the right.
And everyone appears okay with this!
There’s as much right lane passing as left and more weaving than a slalom event at the Olympics.
I know all of this because we have a niece and nephew living in Roanoke with their four-year-old daughter Coco and two-year-old twin sons Remy and Emmett. We can’t get enough of those kids and so drive there several times a year.
Here’s the baffling part. When heading back into Pennsylvania, we cross the Mason-Dixon line and the driving returns to normal. People stay in the right lane, using the left only for passing and put on their blinker when they do.
It almost makes dealing with the potholes worth it.

Ed Ackerman