It happens every day, but that still doesn't make it right.
As you're on a four-lane road, you see the signs that say one lane in your direction of travel is closed ahead. The signs are well in advance of the closure, providing all drivers with ample time to merge into a single lane.
But there always are those who wait until the last possible instance before attempting to squeeze or bully their way into the line. Some drivers play nice and let them in, but others make it clear they won't do so.
So who's right?
Courtesy, on the part of the driver on either side, can set the pace. Getting vehicles into one lane safely requires a little cooperation.
One of the most common problem areas is where there is a construction zone. The Oklahoma Statutes — Title 47 (Motor Vehicles), Chapter 11 (Rules of the Road), Section 11-1302 (Maintenance and Construction Zones) — gives specifics to be aware of when you encounter a construction zone, particularly these areas:
“C. Whenever construction, repair and maintenance of any highway is being performed under traffic, the governing body having jurisdiction over the highway shall erect, or cause to be erected, traffic-control devices to warn and guide the public. Each person using the highway shall obey all signs, signals, markings, flagmen or other traffic-control devices which are placed to regulate, control, and guide traffic through the construction or maintenance area.”
Here's where the “merge now” comes into play:
“D. The “Merge Now” traffic-control device that is used to warn and guide the public using the highway to merge, shall be located no greater than one (1) mile nor less than one thousand five hundred (1,500) feet in advance of the highway construction or maintenance area. Whenever any traffic-control device requires traffic to merge due to the closure of a section or lane of highway, the merge shall be completed:
“1. As soon as practicable after passing the traffic-control device; and
“2. Without passing any other traffic proceeding in the same direction. ... ”
Did you catch No. 2? Read it again.
Of course, there are areas other than construction zones where a lane ends and traffic must merge. But there's no sense trying to pass as many other vehicles as possible, waiting until the closed part of the lane is imminent, then executing a “zipper merge” at that point. It's both rude and irresponsible.
There's an easy way for everyone to drive through a potential problem. How about the every-other-one method?
The idea is to avoid a problem, not create one.
In another area ...
I take this exit (Council Road off Interstate 40 westbound) every day multiple times. It has two right turn lanes. People always go from the inside turn lane to the far left lane of Council Road so they can get to the McDonald's. Shouldn't people know by now how to correctly make a right-hand turn and not run across other lanes of traffic?
Yes, they should, Matt. But you know as well as I do, that there are drivers who simply choose to do it their way, no matter how dangerous that is.
You change lanes when it is safe to do so and indicating your intention by signaling. Just barreling across lanes is not the way to go.
By the way ...
A reader recently “corrected” me for saying “turn signals.” She said: “The proper wording is ‘blinkers,' or ‘turn indicators,' but NOT, ABSOLUTELY NOT ‘turn signals.'”
I remember hearing “blinkers” when I was growing up, years before I started driving, but I hadn't heard it for many years.
“Turn indicators” I'm OK with, because that essentially is what they are.
“Turn signals,” the reader said, “are those lights that tell you when you can or can't turn.”
One thing was for sure. She agreed she knew right away what part of the car I was talking about.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.