Traffic Rant

I suppose that now winter is upon us and there is a decline in road repairs we will notice that one group of the drivers, the “late mergers” or LMs will go into hibernation. These are the drivers who, when a lane ahead is closed, insist on driving right up to where the witch’s hats close their lane before trying to merge into the open lane. You know the ones; they sit there with their signal on holding up the complete line while they wait for some kind soul to let them in.

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The courteous and thoughtful people, like me and all my friends, who have been respectful enough to merge into the correct lane when they passed the “LANE CLOSED AHEAD” sign 2 km back are faced with a social quandary when they come across the stopped LM. Their “good” side, often reinforced by a pitiable smile over the shoulder of the LM, says  “let the poor waif in”, whereas their “BAD” side says “let the bastard rot in hell. “ 

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In this case I always let the really rotten corner of the bad side of my brain take prescience and pack up so close that I can catch the movie showing on the onboard DVD player of the SUV in front, with sound. It strikes me that there is a pretty simple solution to this traffic problem. I’ll give you the outline to my solution and ask that you submit any enhancements in the comments section below.

Here’s the plan…….. About 2 km before the merge point a sign is posted  “LANE CLOSED AHEAD MERGE LEFT NOW”. These signs are posted two or three times before a line of witches hats start appearing on the lane divider. The witch’s hats would be placed such that no car could drive into the moving lane through a gap between them and they would be solid enough that even a Hummer driver couldn’t knock one down without inflicting serious damage to his ride (my kids tell me that’s the term to be used these days).  The witch’s hats could morf into concrete barriers if necessary. In some instances the line of witches hats would then just peter out and the old system of “stupidest first” would remain but, and here’s the trick, once in a while the cars in the “you should have merged left” lane would be confronted with the welcoming face of Trevor Plod the local constable and a couple of his buddies who would issue them with a preprinted ticket for failing to merge. Once the LMs had had a couple hours to reconsider their actions and watch the nice guys whistle on by Trev would take it upon himself to direct them into the correct lane and on their way during a lull in the left lane traffic flow .

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Now I understand that this might take a bit of manpower to set up and operate but, when the number of man-hours (person-hours I suppose that should be) wasted as a result of the actions of these no hopers are considered, there could be a substantial net gain, not to mention a lot less really mad drivers in traffic jams.  

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The great thing about this system is that it would quickly educate the LMs that there was a significant chance that their preferred method of inflicting their “me first” attitude on the rest of us is likely to result in “me last” and, like Skinner’s mice, they would quickly get the idea.

Anybody got worthwhile enhancements to recommend before I pass this on to the appropiate authorities for ignoring?

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About Michael

Who is this guy? Born in New Zealand some time back. Went to Maori Hill Primary School then Kaikorai Valley High before joining the RNZAF and an Airman Cadet in 1968. Graduated 1972 with an NZCE in Aeronautical Engineering. Then embarked on the typical Kiwis "Big Trip Overseas". Got to see quite a few places, and spent a while in the U.K. "home" as it was refered to by many New Zealanders in those days, before travelling on to New York and then to Canada by bus!! This trip is presently on hold (has been for the last 34 years). Met my dear wife Judy not long after arriving in Ontario and we have been happily married since 1976. After travelling around New Zealand and the pacific in 1979 I started Precision Sportscar andfor the next 23 years grew the business and helped raise 2 boys Drew and Robin.
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7 Responses to Traffic Rant

  1. Mal Bruce says:

    Hi Mike,
    I agree with you but have notice that this is less of a problem driving in the U.S. Probably because of all the lawyers you always get plenty of warning in most states, however quite typical in On. is the road construction with no advanced warning until you reach the witches hats.
    The M.O.T. should require all road contactors to post which lane is closed with plenty of warning then throw the book at those failing to merge. Cheers

    Mal

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Mal,
    I would have to agree with you that this seems to be less of a problem in the U.S. than Canada, although I don’t get to drive in U.S. cities often enough to make a fair comparison.
    Regarding your comment “then throw the book at those failing to merge.” Is there an offence for failing to merge appropiately early?

  3. Clive Reddin says:

    While those late mergers are a pain, nothing says “I’m totally ignorant” as those who pull out of traffic and use the exit lanes as a personal passing lane!

    They come to the end of the exit lane then expect, no, demand you to let them in!

    I had one person do that to me on the Bloor Street viaduct. He pulled out from way back and came alongside and began to drift into my lane which was stopped. I leaned on the horn and he insisted in coming in. He came so close his mirror overlapped mine and fortunately it was behind mine!

    Sure, I could have let him in but I didn’t and neither did the 2 guys behind me! My, the disgusting language from him with 2 children in the vehicle was appalling!

  4. Alan says:

    This reminds me of the time when I was driving on the Golden Gate bridge late one night and one very impatient person decided to drive into the lane that was blocked off with the witch’s hats…. little did he realize that 200 meters ahead the work crews had actually removed the road sections to the bridge… with nothing except a view of the sea below… luckily I think the guy did not drive into one of the holes, but he certainly made several people on the work crew furious because of their own safety.

    One word of advice to you regarding the late mergers… on your next trip to Asia be sure to rent a car and try driving while following the rules of the road… you can’t do it. There is no courtesy and at the end of the day you learn to literally grin and bear it. After spending the last 10 years driving in Asia… when I go back to the US nothing fazes me… I approach every discourtesy and other instance of horrible driving with a zen like reaction “oh well.”

    Cheers,

    Alan

  5. Alan Schultz says:

    This is a suggestion for the semi-truck drivers to consider. If the drivers would place their semi’s strattling the lane marker lines they could prevent the LM from causing those tie-ups where they eventually have to merge. I’ve attempted to strattle the lane lines but with a small car. Those huge SUV’s are intimidating but wouldn’t stand a chance against an 18 wheeler!

    Retired and no longer have to fight heavy traffic,
    Alan

  6. Potato says:

    I hate the late mergers with a passion, especially the ones who don’t bother to signal or wait, just zoom around until just before the lane ends then dive into traffic (often without checking their blindspots, and then proceeding to flash their highbeams at the poor car in front of them).

    Anyhow, I just read Freakonomics tonight, and towards the end they include some of their blog posts, including one about police giving tickets for this sort of thing.

    http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/2005/11/18/making-profits-from-incivility-on-the-roads/

  7. Michael says:

    Really interesting posts about this subject on Freakonomics. Thanks for commenting.

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