Friday, February 5, 2016

Polite drivers

I picked up Belladonna at Grand Valley State University last night.

For those who are not familiar with Grand Valley, it is located about 10 miles west of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Grand Rapids is a very conservative, religious observing, Republican leaning metropolitan area.  The metropolitan area has a population of approximately one million.

I was west bound on Michigan 45 at 6:30 PM.  The traffic was backed up all the way to the freeway.  Stop-and-go.

Finally, we crested a hill and there was an accident blocking the left lane a half mile ahead.  The two lanes of traffic "zippered" into one like a sychronized swim team as soon as it crested the hill and it became clear which lane was blocked.  That was a full half mile (maybe even three-quarter mile) from the accident.

The left lane was empty for the entire 1/2 mile.  Nobody tried to race ahead and wedge their way in.

It was SSMMMOOOOOOTH.  I cannot recall seeing anything like it before.

They made it look easy. 

Conservatives get a bum rap for not being "civic minded".  Granted, we are resentful of money pried out of our wallets without our approval.  In other contexts that is considered theft.  But when it comes to things like driving where the individuals are both autonomous and anonymous, there seems to be positive correlation between "good" driving and normative conservative least in Michigan.


  1. The polite and civilized merging of traffic is a test of the altruistic and decency quotient of a population. Out West (Southern Nevada and Southern California) where I live, the blocked lane is populated with 'jackals' who take advantage of the open lane to zoom to the very front of the line and worm their way in. This turns the situation literally into a 'nice guys finish last' one. One way of dealing with this is to block the 'blocked' lane with your car and move ahead slowly with the pace of the open lane. This works especially well if the person next to you in the open lane understands what is going on and cooperates. I have seen semi-truck drivers do this, and assume they coordinate the merge by CB radio. This has to be repeated by people behind the blocker to be effective. I have wondered about the legality of doing this, and why more people don't do it.

  2. Obviously you didn't have any NY or Massholes in that crowd. Otherwise... sigh

  3. I must respectfully disagree (for the first time I think) with Joe - and with Pixel and NFO.
    Although the 3/4 of a mile empty lane appears to show order and a smooth merging of traffic, actually all you have done is push the problem literally 'down the road'.
    The correct method is to use all the available lane space and simply alternate at the point of the lane closure.
    To waste all that road space simply backs the traffic back further, and causing grief to people who may not have been affected by the accident if all the road was used.
    And the vigilante justice attempting to be metered out by truckers and other 'lane cops' will just cause accidents or road rage incidents.
    Some people have my opinion on what we think is the best way to use the road in this situation.
    But EVEN if you three are correct - the Christian way to approach an empty lane user is to assume he has a good reason for doing what he is doing. It could be a bathroom emergency, a sick or injured child or even a job interview or job he just can't be late for again.
    Even if your open lane (wasted lane in my opinion) is there for emergency vehicles to use (which is the only argument I see - but that is what shoulders of the road are for), I suggest we assume the lane user has an emergency - and we are all helping him take care of it. Its all about how you look at it. Don't you feel better about the guy using the lane if you simply change your attitude to one where you are helping him?
    Just for the record, just because I disagree with the 'new normal' Joe described above, I dutifully follow the herd, just to avoid the unneeded confrontation with the vigilante. Life is too short for that.
    But should someone ever have an emergency and need that lane you all forced everyone to make, and then cause an accident stopping them from using it.....that would not be a good thing for anyone. Would it?


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