We could probably call this “Pergiel’s Law of Traffic Equalization”:
I have noticed a couple of things while driving on Highway 26 during rush hour. The left hand lane (the “fast” lane) attracts those who will leap ahead at the slightest opportunity and then jam on their brakes when they run into a clog. People in the next to fast lane maintain a more even pace that is much calmer and does not deliver as much wear and tear to the car. Both lanes travel at about the same rate. If two cars start evenly in the two lanes, one will soon pull ahead for a moment, but then will run into a jam and the car in the slower lane will overtake them. Then the jam will evaporate and the fast lane will take off and the car in the left lane will once again retake the lead, momentarily. By the time they get to the end neither one will be more than a few seconds ahead of the other.
There is, of course, a potential Unequalizer:
[J]ams generally seem to be caused by exit ramps filling up. Even if they aren’t full, people start slowing down before they get to them, which causes people behind them to slow down. So it isn’t that the freeway doesn’t have the capacity, it’s the exit ramps that can’t handle [the] traffic that is using them.
Interstate 35 northbound beyond downtown Oklahoma City could be the poster child for either of these descriptions.