OPINION - Butting In At the Last Second

I hear many drivers these days talking amongst themselves how they stay in the fastest lane when the traffic is backed up and to avoid the line, they then attempt to merge by geting as close to the lane as possible and to the vehicle in order to intimidate the driver to let them in. From what I seen, most driver lets them in to avoid a collision. 

My thoughts on this are to get a dashcam and don't stop to let the driver in. Let them hit you. However, most people just let the aggressive drive in. So, what is the law on this? Is it enforced by either the police of ICBC?

humourous driver merging image

Comments

Answer

Certainly frustrating, but I doubt very much that ICBC is going to see it as them running into you. Chances are very good that it's going to be some their fault and some your fault, so you will not win, dash cam or not.

You are not obligated to let them in and they are obligated not to change lanes in a manner that would affect other traffic. Unfortunately sometimes we just have to gnash our teeth and let them get away with it. Oh, and sometimes it is someone that genuinely missed the exit / turn and would appreciate the brake, just the same way you would.

Oh, and sometimes it is

Oh, and sometimes it is someone that genuinely missed the exit / turn and would appreciate the brake, just the same way you would.

I would have no issue with the above, but how often does that really happen on our BC Roads? Most of the time the other driver drives very fast and intentionally does this as a habit.

Incidently, I think it was within the last few years this happened at the US/Canada border and a physical altercation occurred as a result.  This is all too common at the US border and during rush hour traffice when stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.

I guess the above is an example of how the ruthless, cunning, and aggressive people in our society continue to get what they want at the expense of others and more importantly without any consequence.  I wouldn't be surprised if more people will eventually react "accordingly" as society's tolerance to this kind of behavior gets thinner and thinner? Nah, what I am I saying, this is Canada. We apologize to the other person when they "stick it" to us or even when they intentionally step on our foot. cheeky

Lane changing is not a right ...

So in the event of a collision, Section 151(a) would surely apply if there was a coming together.

What's really stupid is that some people will try to deal with this in such an aggressive manner; they don't realize that if you 'ask' to move over, the other guy will more often than not try to help you out.  But if you try to force your way over, the response you get may not be what you were after.

Working with other drivers will always be less stressful and more successful than trying to get one over on them.

Well said CompetentDrivingBC

Exactly!

I will pass my observation what happened just this morning. A woman drive was weaving in and out of traffic. She was cutting people off for quite a while. She ended up stuck in the passing lane and then she intentionally butted in and caused the truck to slam on his breaks. The other driver honked and she waived in the mirror almost to imply "sorry" yet she was driving aggressively for several kms this morning. 

My point here is that there are some drivers who will intentionally drive aggressively, poorly and then pretend to be sorry or apologetic when in fact they're not. 

Merging lanes

Isn't it annoying to be caught in a single line of stop & go traffic inching towards a lane closure point on a multi-lane roadway when another motorist continues on in the open lane? As has been implied in the series of comments on this topic, it seems some drivers feel that in the interests of fair play & being courteous all drivers should merge early from the lane which is being closed, to the lane remaining open. But there is another way.

In heavy traffic conditions, the early merge soon leads to a back up of traffic. Increased fuel consumption, more vehicle wear & tear together with higher levels of driver frustration are obvious results. Late merge or zipper merge is an approach which recommends cars not merge until at or near the lane closure point. A google search will yield many websites discussing this dynamic merging approach. Check it out for an understanding of the advantages of late merge. There are good reasons for doing so with the main ones being increased traffic flow together with less speed variation. 

Sadly, I think all too many BC drivers appear to consider that early merge is the only approach & that folks who don't do the merge early are somehow not behaving appropriately. Incidentally, as a former public transit operator (now retired) I can confirm bus operators were taught the late merge approach here in Vancouver. Personally, I remain committed to a late or zipper merge approach to this kind of traffic problem. As long distance motorcyclists, we have ridden all over North America - including Mexico - in the 21st century & have found most drivers & riders use the late merge approach when they can. Mostly, we see that the early merging vehicles everywhere are only the larger units including buses, RV's & trucks.

A 'Zipper' merge ...

... makes nothing but sense, for all the reasons you have mentioned.

And when all is said and done, the difference in lost time between having half a dozen or whatever more vehicles ahead of you is inconsequential.

Drivers in Vancouver have been merging alternately on the approaches to the Lions Gate Bridge for decades because - it works!

For what it is worth, here is

For what it is worth, here is my take on this issue.

mylittledaddy is correct in that late merging (a.k.a. zipper merge) theoretically gives the optimum utilisation of the available road. However, I imagine that early merging would have to result in a considerable distance of unutilised road before it would result in a significant effect.

But mylittledaddy's argument does make the important point that early merging does not automatically entitle one to a feeling of moral superiority over late mergers. It would also mean that deliberately blocking late mergers is wrong in that it shows lack of consideration, perhaps to the point of aggression.

Perhaps sometime in the future all vehicles will be remotely controlled by a super-computer and lanes will then zipper merge smoothly. But, in the meantime, each vehicle is independently controlled by a human who is subject to all manner of preconceptions, misconceptions, instincts, biases and misunderstandings. This makes the present reality more complex than the ideal traffic flow model.

First there is the perception that whenever confronted with a choice of line-ups, whether at the grocery check-out or in traffic, the other lines or lanes almost always seem to be move faster than the one chosen. Perhaps an explanation for this effect is as follows. Time seems to pass more quickly when I am moving because I am focusing on where I am going, When my lane is stationary time seems to pass more slowly since I have nothing to do but think about myself and my hard luck at being stuck while all those cars in the other lane are getting closer to their journey's end. Thus I have the perception that I spend more time waiting and less time moving than do vehicles in the other lanes even when that is not the case.

Secondly there are the drivers who, not content with staying in a chosen lane, keep pushing in to whichever lane is moving at the time and so switch from lane to lane in order to gain an advantage in their average speed of travel. If one thinks about those times when one is driving in normally flowing traffic on a major highway and the traffic suddenly slows or stops and bunches up for no apparent reason. It has been shown that this effect often begins with a single vehicle slowing down slightly causing a vehicle following too close behind to brake suddenly. This results in a ripple effect that becomes magnified causing the bunching of a lot of vehicles. This leads me to suspect that drivers who repeatedly and aggressively change lanes in a traffic line-up do cause a decrease in the average speed of all vehicles in the line-up in a similar way. Of course, they also cause annoyance for a number of other human reasons.

I will not claim that my approach to merging is superior to any other. But it suits me and is as follows. When lanes are merging, I like to merge fairly early because I find it more relaxing to know that I am positioned where I will need to be a little way down the road. When other drivers want to merge, I never try to block them. I expect that any small advantage they may gain in travel time by switching lanes is hardly enough to enhance their life significantly and the increased stress of lane switching may be shortening their life. Having chosen to merge earlier rather than later because that is more relaxing why would I then choose to get stressed over late mergers and lane switchers? I'll still get to my destination soon enough and I won't be exhausted and stressed when I get there.

Late merge or zipper merge

So Late merge or zipper merge is considered an acceptable technique and drivers should automatically allow people to butt in? Seems to me this contradicts Section 151(a).

I have no doubt in my mind that once someone gets killed as a result of road rage due to the Late merge or zipper merge technique the law will change. The fact is that the technique works is not the point...just like obliterating  your enemies isn't the the moral or ethical thing to do.

Well if you think about it ...

... allowing them to butt in allows them to remain in accordance with 151 (a).

Deliberately placing your vehicle so that their maneuver causes them to collide with your vehicle as a consequence of their lane change would definitely place them on the wrong side of that law, however.  Not fond of your vehicle, are you?  Ready for some hassle that you could have avoided?  Your call I guess ...

Oh, and what if their lane has been closed (perhaps by construction work, common enough at this time of year) and they were facing a sign advising them to 'Merge'?  So now you have two lanes of traffic necessarily funneling into one, no doubt creating congestion in both.

Please tell us how the folks in the lane that has been closed are supposed to get into the lane that remains open, safely and legally.  Let's keep in mind that the signage in advance of these situations is usually wholly inadequate, in terms of providing sufficient warning for drivers a chance to seamlessly switch lanes well in advance (leaving acres of space ahead of them in the lane they're leaving unnecessarily clear).

Maybe it really does work best if drivers work with each other in a democratic and helpful manner, when all are essentially confronted with the same fundamental problem, eh?

 

Looking for excuses for improper behavior?

Deliberately placing your vehicle so that their maneuver causes them to collide with your vehicle as a consequence of their lane change would definitely place them on the wrong side of that law, however.  Not fond of your vehicle, are you?  Ready for some hassle that you could have avoided?  Your call I guess ...

Oh, and what if their lane has been closed (perhaps by construction work, common enough at this time of year) and they were facing a sign advising them to 'Merge'?  So now you have two lanes of traffic necessarily funneling into one, no doubt creating congestion in both.

Please tell us how the folks in the lane that has been closed are supposed to get into the lane that remains open, safely and legally.  Let's keep in mind that the signage in advance of these situations is usually wholly inadequate, in terms of providing sufficient warning for drivers a chance to seamlessly switch lanes well in advance (leaving acres of space ahead of them in the lane they're leaving unnecessarily clear).

Maybe it really does work best if drivers work with each other in a democratic and helpful manner, when all are essentially confronted with the same fundamental problem, eh?

It's a real pity that some are thinking like children rather than mature experienced courteous adult drivers. That is largely the issue here isn't it, plus everyone's sense of entitlement?

We all carry car insurance. If you're not at fault then there is nothing to worry about, is there if you are involved in a collision? Don't care about your car? Where does that come in, seriously?? You're assuming every collision body shop does horrible work? Besides, if you have a lease (like many know seem to have) that's automatically included in the insurance if the their is excessive damage to the car. 

If a lane is closed, a driver should be paying attention to the road, signs would be clearly marked if merging is required. If the sign notice is inadequate then you should be contacting your MP or local politician and/or engineering department to make a complaint.  If you can't pay attention on the signage and are simply focussing on zippering or weaving in and out of traffic, maybe you shouldn't be driving then.

Until the aggressive drivers are hit (there seems to be many here it seems) where it counts (their pocket book) they will continue to frustrate, annoy, and take advantage of  courteous drivers.  You can't teach manners but yu can teach good road sense. If people were required to take  professional driving course like that from Young Drivers with better enforcement, there would be less road rage and frustrated drivers. 

We all know it's the law to yield to bus drivers, so they are exempt. However,   most people can get a "feel" of habitual aggressive drivers.  If anyone defends their actions or that of others who practice zippering and last minute merging to frighten and intimidate drivers, I and many others feel they sould have their licenses revoked. 

Topic came up again...

It's becoming more and more common. Friends and colleagues at work are in sheer disgust at how many drivers are butting in these days at the very last minute. You can see them speeding up  avoiding the long line eg. merging onto the bridge at the very last second because the aggressive driver’s time is more important than anyone elses.   Some are taking my recommendation and buying a dashcam.

I guess it will be a matter for the courts and insurance company to decide liability and blame should the driver (who is the left lane in line and is under the assumption they have the right of way) prevent the driver on the right zooming in (cheating if you call it) and butt right in resulting in a car accident.   The zipper approach in theory might work if it took into account human psychology. However, cheaters will always cheat and most people view  "self righteous blockers" as our enemies when they merge at the last second creating emotional havoc for other drivers and raising their stress levels in an already hectic commute. 

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