Mar 30, 2008

Road Rant: Merging with Idiots

It does no good to tell people about the physics of merging into traffic. Either from on ramps, or from one lane to another.

I don't have a problem with anyone jumping in front of me, as long as they keep moving. I don't back off to make more room between me and them. I figure that if they want in front of me, taking up my safety space, then they'd better like me on their ass like an ugly wart.

But just keep moving, dammit! We can space ourselves out more gently and keep traffic flowing. But if you jump into a tight space and hit your brakes because you're too close to the car in front, and now you're having a freakout, it becomes not only MY problem, but the problem of everyone behind me and you, ya little porcupine quill!

Bad driving isn't just dangerous, it's selfish. You don't like the view in your lane, you've got the cruise control on, the car in front of you is going 1.5 mph slower so you amble into the left lane. Sure, you checked the mirror and saw me in the left lane going 5 mph faster than you, but why should YOU have to hit your brakes and reset your cruise control, when you can pull out in front of me and take 10 minutes to pass the schmuck in the right lane?

When you see people cursing you in your rear-view mirror, they are usually justified. You can pontificate and posture all you want, but you can't argue with science.

(h/t to the Beancounter, who has never once even said hello, in my comments or hers. But I like, and link, her blog anyway, the snotty dooshbag!)

One thing I'm proud of about my German bloodlines is that those Krauts understand the science of traffic. On the Autobahn you'll get pulled over and ticketed for cruising in the left lane. It's a crime! It's dangerous, and they know it. You're expected to use it for passing only. That's why they have so few accidents, even at the high speeds. The Germans understand the hazards of speed difference, the idiocy of slowing down to merge into traffic, and the idiocy of slowing down to let someone into traffic flow.

It's expensive to get a license to drive in Germany. And you have to pass a real test. You don't see too many snot-nosed teenagers over there using their accelerator pedal as an extension of their little manhood while their brains haven't fully formed yet.

THE INTERSTATE IS NOT SOME PLACE TO BE "COMPASSIONATE" to the idiot who doesn't understand merging. You are endangering everyone behind you when you slow down to let someone merge from the on ramp. STOP IT!!! If you do anything, speed up and make some room behind you. In the first iteration on that traffic link, you can see that everything's going smoothly until some idiot runs to the end of the ramp and stops. This shortens the accerleration ramp (the true, technical term for that stretch of road you think is for dialing your cell phone) for the big truck that needs every yard of it to get up to speed for the merge. You're being a stupid, selfish, cowardly nincompoop when you chicken out at the end of the on ramp.

Watch that traffic link. Go ahead and try out the different scenarios over there. You may find out that YOU are the idiot everyone is talking about when they describe the awful traffic they encountered on the way home from work.


And stay home if driving skillfully confuses you, bores you, or is too much of an interruption in your sales calls, arguments, eating, shaving, drum solos, car-tune karaoke rehearsals, or parenting duties.

Can I get a witness?

P.S. Blinkers. Try 'em, you'll like 'em!


LauraB said...

Hilarious! The Trooper and I were just discussing the Autobahn and price of licenses in Germany. Indeed, there is very little of that road rage - the roads are well-made, signage is impeccable and they are very studiously monitored.

And yeah, no blinker, no mercy. It is the law o' the land.

Anonymous said...


Irrelephant said...

Darlin', you know as well as I do that it's the Gawd-given right of every half-blind timid asshat in America to own a car and have a license mailed to them at home because they're too lazy to go in for it. (Truth--you can get your driver's license by mail in La. Does this strike anyone else as... uhm... F**KING STUPID?)

Yah, I hate drivers. Try riding a motorcycle around that same class of mook. My closest brush to an accident? Moron Mom and her daughter who decided that'd it be okay to drive the wrong way on a one-way street because she only had to go a few miles. In blinding rain. I swore to myself that if I hit her I'd go through the windshield with both arms held out so I'd be sure to decapitate her.


Braden said...

Damn right. No one here in Pittsburgh, PA has a single clue as to what acceleration ramps are, ALL of them slow down to let the car onto the freeway, which then causes slow traffic.

Merge points? Never heard of them, not in Pittsburgh, PA.

Oh, and the Fort Pitt Tunnel has a hidden rule: Slam on your brakes right before entering.


Joan of Argghh! said...

That's right, my chilrens, let it all out. It's awful and enervatin', the way people drive. Just go ahead and rant here, whatever it takes, to make our roads safe from the road-rage!


USMC 9971 said...

I love this post, too! There is probably isn't anyone who can't relate to this in whichever corner of America (or the world?) that they live in.

Over Easter, my brother-in-law and I were complaining about driving and talking about how we can't have an autobahn in America since we don't enforce the left lane as a passing lane only. One of my other brothers-in-law jumped in to suggest that BIL#1 wasn't that good of a driver, and BIL#1 pulled out his German driving permit that he got while stationed there. That's an argument ender, especially when followed by a suggestion for BIL#2 to learn the German language, log on to the internet, and see the actual requirements to get such a permit.

And, of course, I had to be there that day in the vehicle with the smashed in bumper; the one that was damaged when a snowbank allegedly jumped out in front of my wife while she was driving it.


Anonymous said...

Yes - you are correct.

In the land of Nebraska - also known as the Heartland - other drivers will wave at you but will NEVER use their turn signal.

As Sam Kinnison said "do you know why they call it the hearland?" ...."because there is no brain there!"

Yes - in my fictional world where I'm king or whatever - some of these drivers should be taken out and shot.

The world would be a better place if stupidity was painful. Unfortunately - they are blissfully unaware.

Jim - PRS said...

I wish I could somehow beam this post to the drivers in the cars with New York or Pennsylvania plates on Jersey highways, where they seem to think that the left lane is a great place to plod along and daydream.

In Jersey, staying to the right, except to pass, is the goddamned law.

Jean said...

I was surrounded by all these idiots last night while I was hoping my car wasn't going to blow up. It did...and they all kept on going.

joated said...

Hey, Jimbo, I've now got those PA plates of which you speak after 55 years in NJ. And you're right, sorta. The problem is the number of cars on the NJ highways. Too freaken many! And an awful lot of them have no clue that there's anyone else around.

Love the rant Joan. I always say the hardest part of driving is not handling my vehicle, it's driving the 10 or 12 others immediately in front, alongside or behind me.

Teresa said...

I have driven all around the midwest - from Tennessee up to South Dakota and many place in between. I've driven in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, and Maryland. Also, Seattle.

But I have to say that the drivers in Massachusetts are the WORST anywhere - anytime. They will stop - dead stop on highway entry ramps to see if they can get on. They will stop in the middle of a road if they are looking for a place and they can't figure out where it is. They will conduct 3 point u-turns wherever they happen to decide they want to turn around. They will - in the dead of night - on a two lane road... see that I'm going to make a left turn and instead of continuing on like normal sane people because they have the right-of-way and no stop sign... and with no traffic at all... they will come to a dead stop and wait for me to make my left turn thus scaring the ever loving crap out of me because it DARK and I have no idea why they are stopping!

Oh it's bad in other places - Chicago has some of the most horrendous traffic in the country... but even when someone does something dumb - I can anticipate it. Up here - I never know what complete idiocy awaits and I'm afraid that one day one of these morons will get me killed by doing something incredibly dumb. Heh.

Mad William Flint said...

Ya know, this reminds me of the high school drop-outs working behind the local fillintheblank who say "There's FOUR lines!" at the counter. With "yes I know that's a (particularly unimaginative by my estimation) definition of insanity" frequency I explain to them that no, indeed it's faster if there is one line, terminating in four service nodes (or as they so quaintly call them "registers")

But do people listen to me? NOOOOO. They look at me like I'm a loony toon.