This video below shows what can happen when two drivers both try to enter a Taco Bell drive-through line at the same time and then each refuses to yield to the other, ending up blocking the line for everyone and the police having to be called in. The video was taken by a driver who was stuck behind as the people in the two contesting cars demanded that the other back down, and the videographer could not believe that this standoff was over Taco Bell food.
This is due to a combination of two factors: unclear right of way plus the curious anger and intransigence that people seem to be prone to when they get behind the wheel of a car, when being delayed by even a few seconds or inconvenienced slightly is sufficient to cause yelling, physical violence, and even death.
Usually, at least on the main roads, there are signs indicating who has right of way at the merge point. But it is important that one does not demand the right of way but yield it. It is always better to yield the right of way if the other driver seems to be taking it because they may have not noticed the signs requiring them to yield. There are a couple of places on the highways around Cleveland where one highway feeds into another and one sees this sign that does not indicate which lane has the right of way. Because the cars are traveling at high speeds, I find this extremely dangerous and have observed the cars ahead of me in each lane blithely going along until they realize at the last moment that they might side-swipe each other and swerve to avoid it. I am familiar enough with the locations of these signs that if the traffic is heavy, I get out of either lane before I enter the merge point.
Road rage is a real danger. A couple of friends of mine described frightening incidents where they admitted they had done the wrong thing but despite making apologetic signs, the other drivers were so outraged that they followed them for a long time, trying to either intimidate them, cut them off in retaliation, or maybe stop them to do who knows what.
People get really, really angry about minor driving inconveniences and given the easy availability of guns in the US, ones should not get into confrontations, like the one that led to the senseless murder of a young woman.
District Attorney Tom Hogan said 28-year-old David Desper of Trainer, Delaware County, turned himself in about 2 a.m. Sunday in the killing of the young woman – who had just shopped with her mother and grandmother for items to bring with her to her freshman year in college.
“This is the story of a savage and senseless murder,” said Hogan.
The motive was as trivial as it gets, he said: “Because somebody didn’t want to give way. Because somebody didn’t want to merge into a lane of traffic.”
He said Desper, on the Route 100 bypass at the same time as Roberson, “jockeyed for position and wasn’t happy. So he pulled out a gun and shot Bianca in the head.”
Even a priest has been arrested for threatening with a gun another driver who was trying to overtake him.
There is something about driving that brings out an aggressive streak in otherwise normal people who will refuse to yield even when there is absolutely nothing at stake except a second or two of lost time. I try to remember piece of advice that I heard as a very young boy that being right is not always the most important thing:
“He was right, dead right, as he went along.
But he is just as dead now as if he had been wrong.”
It is simply not worth it to risk a confrontation or an accident or even death over trifles. Just yield.