Great moments in merging

Moving from one lane to another in traffic is a delicate dance involving at least two drivers that when done well goes off smoothly. Ideally, the person wishing to change lanes signals their intention and the person already in that lane drops back and allows them to do so, sometimes signaling that they have created space by flashing their headlights or even a gentle honk of the horn. Then after merging, the lane changer thanks the other driver with the standard signal of the raised forward facing flat palm. Most of the time, that is what happens, and life is good.

But for some drivers, letting another driver merge into your lane is seen as a challenge to one’s pride, dignity, and authority that must be fought, by speeding up or otherwise obstructing the driver who is trying to merge. If that happens to me, I just wait until a more obliging driver comes along, and they inevitably do. Fortunately, in the Cleveland area, drivers are generally courteous and will let you in.

But Mark Frauenfelder provides an example where two drivers go bonkers and fight for the same position even after their cars have sideswiped each other.

Some people are just weird.


  1. johnson catman says

    Was that a rubber or plastic sword the driver on the left pulled out to whack the other car? That is what it looked like.

    Ideally, the person wishing to change lanes signals their intention and the person already in that lane drops back and allows them to do so, . . .

    The ideal situation doesn’t always happen. I was recently at a left turn that had two lanes to turn but shortly after the turn the outside lane ends and the cars must merge into the inside lane. When the left-turn light went green, I was third in line in the inside (keeper) lane and there were three cars in the outside (must-merge) lane. The merging for the six cars from those two lanes went perfectly. There were two or three cars behind me in the inside lane. We had all cleared the intersection when some rude asshole came speeding down the highway and barely made it through the light as it was changing to red. Instead of falling into line behind the cars that had already merged in behind me, he tried to speed in the merge lane past everyone to gain a few spots. I was at the point where the merge lane had narrowed and nearly ended, and I saw him coming. I did not slow up, and I did not yield. He was off the paved surface running beside me until he almost took out a mailbox, then slammed on his brakes and cut in behind me. I don’t know how he did not hit the car that was behind me. He was furiously giving me the one-finger salute. Someone like that should not even have a license to operate a motor vehicle, much less be given courtesy. He could have easily wrecked several cars with his dangerous driving.

  2. Mano Singham says

    I too get annoyed with people who value gaining a few spots on merging at the expense of others.

    I frequently use an on-ramp to a highway near my home. Cars are expected to not try to merge until the solid white line has changed to a dotted line and there is a space in the highway traffic to merge on to. But there is frequently someone behind who sees a gap and rather than allow the person ahead to merge into it, quickly crosses the solid line to occupy that gap, shutting off that option for the drivers ahead.

    Some drivers are just inconsiderate.

  3. lochaber says

    johnson catman @2

    It looked to me like the driver on the left had a machete.

    A little concerning for a couple reasons, as it looked like he took a swipe at the driver, and also that he had a machete so readily at hand.

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