Question: I’m writing to you because I bought a Chevy volt and have access to the HOV which should get me from Point A to point B faster but I assumed wrong.  I believe I have the worst luck because I’m always in the HOV behind someone who is going well under the speed limit with about a 40-50 car space between them and the car in front.  Sometimes there are no cars in front!  What should I do?

There is usually bumper to bumper traffic in the other 2 lanes so I can’t pass them.  I have honked at them and they think I have road rage and start taking pictures of my licence plate.  I understand they may be scared of the traffic pulling out in front but then don’t get in that lane.  I wouldn’t mind if it was a couple MPH under the limit but we are taking 45, sometimes 35 in a 65! Please help! — Jason

The initial answer comes from Roileen Miller, owner of Miller Driving School in Cotati.

“There’s not much you can do about that person,” she said. “Change lanes when it’s safe and get around him.  Don’t tail gate the person. He may be looking for a way to make some money if you rear end him. I’d like to throw a brick at him with my business card on it, urging him to call me for driving lessons, but he may be from L.A. and have a gun.  So I just look for a safe way out of the situation.”

Matthew Seghezzi, who teaches traffic school classes with humor, threw himself into this letter-of-the-law answer:

A car going slower than the speed limit should pull over, esp. if there are more than 5 behind it. If the person is going too slow (under the LEGAL speed limit, not just too slow FOR YOU) – then signal Right, pull out, then signal Left, pull back in. Be sure to signal for 100 feet! The person driving too slow is subject to an infraction for driving too slow as it’s inherently MORE dangerous for all the cars passing that person since each car has to make TWO moves to get back to ‘normal’ speed. This doesn’t preclude the person driving legally at the posted limit in an HOV lane from not getting a ticket if cars are still going around them.

Why? Because the “Enforcer” (I’m doing 65 because that’s what it says!) has one or two MORE lanes to their right. (Recall signs: Slower Traffic Move Right). They’re still going to get to their destination on time!

Specifically, if the reader is only having this difficulty during the commute times, he’s in good shape….some people drive that cautiously ALL the time! He can always turn the tables and report the driver ahead of him to CHP as driving “too slow” … just don’t do it while holding a phone in his hand….my suggestion: a dash-mounted video camera 🙂

Seghezzi’s tip for safely following a vehicle:

As long as you keep 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you, you’re in good shape. Three Second rule being…pick an object ahead, when the car in front of you passes it count “One Thousand One, One Thousand Two, One Thousand Three” and if you pass the same object after you complete the phrase…you’ve got proper distance.