Zipper merging should be simple. Two cars come together at matching speeds and the car that is slightly behind gives way to the one in front. When there’s a string of cars this process, when done right, it should work like, as the name suggests, a zipper. However this will only occur when all cars are fully autonomous because humans are idiots.
We can merge on foot when forming a line at ticket barriers so why can’t we do it in cars? Sure, we can blame a lack of driver education, but merging, be it at a freeway entrance or lane reduction is invariably undone by at least one driver exhibiting one of the seven deadly sins of driving: selfishness, impatience, ignorance, inattention, inexperience, fear or just being a jerk.
Merging drivers who try to join the traffic at the wrong speed or ridiculously late are the main culprits, but a lack of courtesy by drivers supposedly meant to let them in doesn’t help either.
RIGHT-HAND LANE HOGS
It doesn’t matter how many lanes are added to freeways, there are some drivers who will stick in the far right lane below the speed limit totally oblivious to steering wheel-punching anger brewing behind them.
It takes effort be a fast-lane troll. Very few freeway on-ramps merge on the right-hand side, meaning a driver would have to deliberately traverse multiple lanes with no intention of keeping up with the traffic flow.
Such drivers are generally in one of three camps:
- The Blissfully Ignorant, who are totally oblivious to everything that exists outside their car’s four sides. You can usually tell these people at traffic lights when they’re mining their noses thinking no one can see into their glasshouse on wheels.
- The Wilfully Arrogant, “screw you mate”, driver who doesn’t give a damn about anyone else and thinks that being in the right-hand lane will get them to their destination faster regardless of how slow they travel. These people often tailgate or parallel park with their nose just over the line preventing someone else from using the space in front. They are justifiably hated.
- Passive-Aggressive Moral Crusading Control Freaks who sit just below the speed limit because they think we’ll all be safer even when B-double LPG tankers are being forced to change lanes and undertake. “Why should I speed up and risk my life? I’m doing them a favour”, they tell their front-seat passenger who is white-knuckle gripping the Jesus bar and sneaking fearful glances in the side mirror.
VEERING LEFT TO TURN RIGHT
Unless you’re using a roundabout or a doing one of those hook turns that Victorians invented to freak out interstate drivers, there is absolutely no reason to veer left a little bit when turning right. No right turn is that sharp that you need to come at it from a different angle as the lines dictate. All it does is make your car a sideswiping hazard for someone in the adjacent lane. There is no reason for this, which makes me think it’s some kind of subconscious thing that drivers don’t realise they’re doing.
SPEEDING UP WHEN BEING OVERTAKEN
Another thing that can’t be explained beyond the protagonist simply being a crap person is the tendency for some drivers to sit on a certain speed only to accelerate as you attempt to overtake them. Are people that competitive that they see the simple act of overtaking as a challenge?
A roped off place in hell is reserved for those who, on a winding single-lane highway, speed up when you attempt to pass them on the only overtaking lane for the next 10 kilometres.
NOT PAYING ATTENTION AT TRAFFIC LIGHTS
There is a sliding scale of things that can distract you at traffic lights and an appropriate response from those behind you. These range from a quick beep of the horn that says ‘Hey, bud, stop reading that billboard and get a move on’, to the hand held on horn, upwardly pointed finger and easy-to-lip-read-through-rearview-mirror abuse should you be caught looking at your phone after the lights turn green.
Subaru cars have an alert which lets you know when the car in front has driven off so you don’t earn the appropriate ire of those behind you if distracted at traffic lights. This is a great way to stop copping abuse though prevention is even better. Concentrate!
SPECIAL MENTION - TAILGATING
Unless you’re helping someone to jump from one car to another in the middle of a dramatic high-speed chase that could help decide the future of mankind, there’s no reason to tailgate.
Tailgating, like Nascar, is an aggressive and dangerously misguided endeavour by imbeciles who think they can thwart physics by assuming that being closer to a car in front can make you faster than it.
It’s a key cause of car crashes and has no place on our roads.