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We just can’t do it. It’s beyond us.

They can post all the signs they want, we just aren’t interested, or even emotionally capable of complying.

We will happily and eagerly comply with all sorts of other road rules – like not going through red lights, not driving at 160 through a school zone at 8.30am, and not stopping where rocks are falling.

But will we pull over to the left unless we’re actually overtaking another vehicle?

Will we shit.

It’s just not going to happen in this country in our time or in the conceivable future.

It’s the actual reason why our keepers are fast-tracking driverless cars. Those un-manned bastards will always keep to the left even when they’re running you down like a stray animal, don’t you worry about that.

Our inability to keep to the left is, of course, a purely Australian thing.

It is set in our national psyche, like mateship, and the barbecue, and going to Bali, drinking Bintang and passing out in your own sick on a golden-sanded beach.

I can actually trace the roots or our iron-clad inability to keep left back to the mid-70s and the Slow Vehicles Keep Left signs.

They were terrible signs. Insulting, insolent and officious. And they were often found near those wonderful signs which featured a black circle with a diagonal line through it. I used to love those signs. The Slow Vehicles ones? Not so much.

I was affronted by them. I was not driving a slow vehicle. Well, that might not have been strictly true, since my mum’s old Vauxhall Viva was pretty crap at speeding. But I did not need my nose rubbed into that fact by a judgemental bastard sign. So I made a point of not ever Keeping Left because rude signs are not the boss of me.

And I was hardly alone in this. That much is now obvious. Drive on any major freeway or dual carriageway anywhere in this great brown country of ours and you’ll soon see how not alone I am in my inability to keep left unless I am overtaking. Yes, they changed the insulting sign some years ago. But it was too late. The damage had been done.

Of course, our determination to never move over and let anyone going slightly faster than us past has been cemented by the draconian policing we are subjected to.

The government’s endless and relentless propaganda about SPEED killing more Australians than cholera, cancer, heart disease, suicide, morning television, and craft beer, is working. We are genuinely concerned about being caught speeding by the Highway Patrol. So two things happen to the way we drive.

Firstly, on the rare occasions we are in the left lane and we pull out to overtake a car doing say 98km/h, we shall not ever exceed the speed limit of 100km/h lest the Highway Patrol appear in our mirrors (not that we use them all that much but those flashing lights do tend to eventually attract our attention if they’re on for long enough), and the revenue-raising commences.

So we overtake at a glacial pace. The drifting of continents is faster.

Secondly, once we have established our dominance over the slower vehicle, we then remain righteously in the right-hand lane doing the righteous speed limit.

And if you come up behind us doing the speed limit plus maybe 10 or so kays more…well, you can just back off, mister. Consider the safety of the Universal Child and mind the Motor Traffic Act, pal. If only the Highway Patrol could see you looming in my mirrors at 115 in a 100 zone. You’d be screaming under a pile of police dogs quick-smart, you speeding hoon, you.

And don’t bother flashing your lights at me, dickhead. I’m not even using my mirrors because eyes on the road ahead and all that. And if I did happen to see you irradiating me with your LED high-beam arrogance, well, just watch how I’m not pulling over to the left now, mate! This is Australia, Goddamnit!

We are the only First World nation (along with a few special states of the USA) where being flashed by headlights coming up behind you is viewed as a declaration of war. That flashing is a blood-insult. It goes against everything our diggers fought and died for. Ned Bloody Kelly would not have put up with it as he fought in the trenches of the Eureka Stockade.

We just will not be flashed by high-beams because we’re in the wrong lane. It’s the right bloody lane because I’m in it and I’m doing the speed limit (or maybe even a few kays less because every kay over is a killer dontcha know?), and you, you speeding, child-murdering, need-your-car-crushed-by-the-state bastard, can just go and get…well, you know.

So we can’t and we won’t, world without end amen, ever just drive in the left-hand lane, like the Germans, or the French, or the Italians, or most of the civilised world.

And because we won’t drive like civilised human beings, we will never be allowed to drive more than 110km/h like the Germans, or the French, etc.

And in a few very short years, when the driverless car is deemed to be safer for Australian society than your midnight black AMG, and is legislated as the Best Thing For Us All As A Nation Going Forward To Vision Zero (because anything can be justified if it’s in the public interest), then our inability to keep left just won’t matter anymore, will it?

The only thing that will matter then will be spraying one’s face and nipples with silver paint, and hacking into the driverless car’s CPU to see how fast it will really go.

Witness me! All shiny and chrome!

I can’t wait.


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Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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