Blocking the Merge

Driving is often relaxing--it is even possible to find amusement in traffic jams. But the fun vase is shattered when somebody blocks the merge.

The feeling of being stuck behind a "righteous" bozo who has caused a rolling bottleneck is one of frustration and rising anger, with a helping of claustrophobia mixed in.

Until recently, my anger just focused on the driver loping alongside the lane of merged traffic (which merged long before it was necessary), but then I realized that he's not the only one who is causing the problem


Think about this: the merge blocker can only pin himself to one car, blocking the traffic behind him. The 2-car unit becomes a cancerous "ready to merge" mass in a sea of what could be freeflowing traffic. To fight back, the line of cars in front of him needs merely to "unmerge" from one into two lanes (an unlikely prospect, since they sheepishly decided to merge so early anyway), drive up to the brick-and-mortar merge and re-merge there. Then the "ready to merge" mass of our aggressive driver would be following "ready to merge" traffic and thus it would become nearly invisible.

Well, the agressive driver should become invisible then, but he doesn't.

Why are there often only one or two cars driving in the lane behind the "merge blocker" while everyone else is struggling to get into single file (when there is a ton of room before the merge-blocker and even more before the real merge)? It's because the merge-blocker is treated as a merge itself, and drivers try to merge before they get to him (or already have), thus allowing the cancerous mass to have an even greater effect on traffic flow. driving directly behind the merge-blocker is seen as aggressive driving, and impolite when everybody knows there is a merge coming.

The best way to merge is still to have everyone slow down some, then alternate left and right. But this is only for the real (read: stationary) merge. Behind a mobile merge-blocker it makes no sense to merge, for there is no reason to-he's just creating a traffic jam.

If the people behind the merge-blocker would treat the 2-car lump like a traffic jam, and the people ahead of it would treat the real-merge properly, the entire concept of "blocking a merge" would disappear.

But I fear it may be too late. This release from Tennessee recommends early-merging, which will confuse people from out of state, almost certainly slow traffic flow, and cause incidents of road rage.

The "righteous" driver is the one waiting until the last safe moment before merging.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! Road rage caused by merging would be a thing of the past if everyone does as you suggest: merge alternately and cooperatively at the last minute. In that way, noone feels that he/she was generous or anticipatory and "got screwed" by those scooting through in the rude lane. This late-merge practice is law in Switzerland and Germany, and road rage there is well controlled.

Anonymous said...

my mothod and the best way to merge is have a small fast car like a miada or a civic-and drive like a jackass