Driving for Better and Worse
Here in London, the streets are often very narrow, confusing, and hard to navigate (especially around all the Rolls Royces). Some two-way streets allow only room for one car at a time in either direction. And then there are the thousands of bicycles and scooters. Yet it all works because everyone is polite—people infallibly use directional signals, allow people to merge in front of them, and stop for pedestrians. (You have the usual few bikers whose egos demand that they make fools of themselves.)
In Italy, where most of the highways are two-lane, there were only rare traffic jams because everyone stayed to the right to allow room for faster vehicles.
In other words, people are cooperative and polite so that the social system of vehicle transportation works well.
In the US, a lot of people feel the left lane is their private property and it’s an assault on their pride to move out of it. The ounce of pressure to press the directional signal is better reserved to speak on the phone. And preventing merges, even if it’s the other person’s turn, is something reminiscent of jousting hundreds of years ago. Thus, we have traffic jams on our four- and five-lane highways.
The US founders spoke of the common “weal.” It’s an interesting word. It means the common good.