Apr 11, 2010

On Lane Blocking Motorists and Construction Zones

Lane blocking motorist on I-275 in southeastern Michigan I have long been fascinated with the phenomena of the motorist or trucker who blocks lanes near construction lane closures. Pictured on the left is a pickup truck driver engaged in the act of blocking such a lane on I-275 who I observed the other day.

I understand the motivation behind lane blocking, which is to prevent obnoxious idiots who want to zoom past a long line of cars and reduce their wait. I share the annoyance of lane blockers at these selfish or clueless drivers, as their unwillingness to merge earlier leads to further backups and occasionally to accidents.

Yet part of me is puzzled at the sort of vigilante justice at work here. Some of these lane blockers are overly righteous, as if they think it is their personal duty to police the roadways. I have seen some lane blockers drive their cars with aggressive and even reckless maneuvers, like suddenly angling out into the narrowing lane or onto the shoulder to block those who try to beat the traffic backup. These self-designated roadtroopers probably cause their own fair share of accidents, especially with their demolition derby approach to highway vigilantism.

Truckers are well known for their efforts to use their semi-trailers to enforce the upcoming lane merging. I have also seen 18-wheelers participate in some highly questionable acts of self-appointed road policing, wielding their cabs and trailers almost like weapons to stop cheaters.

Lane blockers: feel free to post in the Comments section about your motivations in blocking lanes, and everyone else can use this post to vent about the selfish folks who think their vehicular excursion is more important than those of other motorists.


Anonymous said...

Your trucker in the picture has some kind of license-plate block, isn't that illegal too?

historymike said...

Nope - in the interests of privacy I PhotoShopped out the license plate, Anonymous.

Linda said...

What particularly gets me is when a lane blocker will does their "thing" and prohibits people from advancing to an exit.

Now, I realize it isn't advisable and is probably actually illegal to drive on the road's berm but I'll never forget when a lane blocker did their "thing" inhibiting about 10 cars from advancing about a 10th of a mile to a major interstate exit.

Seriously? Who the hell do they think they are?

Mad Jack said...

They think they know what they're doing when it comes to driving in heavy traffic, and they also think you don't. Deal with it.

The object of lane blocking is to keep the line moving, albeit at a snail's pace. Check Chicago at rush hour and you'll see traffic backed up from Hell to breakfast. The reason why traffic is relegated to stop and go is because the only drivers who have a clue are truckers and maybe one percent of the civilians. The idea is to keep moving, even if it's only at 5 mph. To do that, you need to keep a healthy distance between you and the car in front of you, so that when the man in front of you slows or stops you can keep rolling for a few feet, thus keeping the line from coming to a dead stop. This technique works, but only if the other drivers will observe it as well. They don't.

The average and below average idiots on the highway (and these are the people that make SB loons appear to be rational, well-grounded geniuses by comparison) tailgate the car in front of them in the hope of making the line go faster. They swap lanes at every opportunity, trying to get ahead. The behave like the complete and total assholes that they are, and provide traffic constipation for everyone else.

Truckers see this and throw up a mobile road block by running abreast of each other, then allowing the gap to develop in front of them. In this way some sanity is injected into the chaos that takes place in a construction zone during rush hour.

I do not have a hard spot with truck drivers who do this. What I hate are the tailgaters. People who tailgate are threatening you with their car, trying to get ahead of you or force you to go faster. I'm considering mounting a shotgun coaxial with my car under the trunk and using it to puncture a few radiators.

Linda said...

Sorry MJ, but I disagree with you.

Traffic would be less congested in the scenario that I mentioned a if a road blocker would allow other cars to exit.

That road blocker is displaying the same illegal behavior that he is supposedly attempting to prevent?


"Deal with it?" Normally, you're only pissy when provoked. Good golly. It's a blog. Mellow.

Anonymous said...

A: PennDOT officials generally endorse "late merge" as a new model with the horsepower to move traffic through construction zones with shorter motorist delays.

Late merge has been shown to provide about a 15 percent gain in traffic mobility though merge points, versus "early merge," in high-volume traffic.

Using both lanes also reduces the appearance of a traffic jam, simply because two lines of traffic are half as long as one line with the same number of cars. While that's merely a psychological factor, it could be meaningful if it helps prevent frustration, and in turn, road rage.

A University of Nebraska study found late merge to be effective, in a real sense, in work zones with high traffic volumes. In a report listed on the Federal Highway Administration Web site, the late professor Patrick T. McCoy found that late merge "improves the safety and efficiency of merging operations, especially during congested flow situations." In early-merge operations, motorists intentionally blocking the open lane reduce the "smooth and orderly" merger process, and thus its efficiency, the report stated.

But late merge poses problems of its own: "Where there is no congestion and speeds are high, potential confusion among drivers at the merge point becomes a concern," the report noted.
From the Morning call Newspaper

People who Block are just petty little children who don't want anyone to get more than themselves.

Anonymous said...

Leon James, a.k.a. "Dr. Driving," whose Web site has a string of articles under the heading "The Great Merging Debate," says merging areas are especially challenging because there are basically two styles of merging that are often incompatible. When early mergers see the late mergers zip by, "most drivers feel irritated, some angry and roadrageous," he says. Trying to block them is "dangerous, illegal and begging for a confrontation."