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By April 12, 2016March 6th, 2021Culture, Random/Rants

Extrapolation can be remarkably effective in influencing public behavior. By estimating a dramatic future result on the basis of known facts, politicians, economists, environmentalists, insurance salespeople among others attempt to bolster their arguments for changing attitudes or actions.

Extrapolation can be applied to transportation, or more specifically traffic congestion, as well. We can project how one particular negative action dramatically impacts the lives of every commuter. It is a known fact the root causes of most traffic jams are late mergers — the roadway sociopaths who insist on using merge lanes to race past dozens of queued up vehicles in order to cut into the front of the line. The power of extrapolation reveals the severe repercussions of this bad behavior, and why it must be curtailed.

The known facts:

  1. Everyone hates freeway gridlock.
  2. Bottlenecks occur as a direct result of late mergers who stall traffic by attempting to undo the law of physics by forcing themselves into an occupied space.
  3. The rude behavior of late mergers is most likely the primary cause of road rage.

The dramatic future results:

  1. Individual health will improve by the reduction of mental stress and anxiety; individual pocketbooks will improve by spending less money for gas and auto repairs.
  2. Family relations will improve by having more time together in the morning and evening.
  3. The economy will benefit as employees get to work on time, with a better mindset.
  4. National security will improve as we become less reliant on oil imports.
  5. The environment will improve by the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The extrapolation-based solution:

  1. Merge responsibly, at the first opportunity. Don’t be the jerk who merges late.
  2. Make room for those who use their turn indicator to merge early.
  3. Most importantly, and I cannot emphasize this too strongly, DO NOT allow late mergers to cut in line. Understand, you are not being discourteous to the late merger; you are being respectful of all those responsible drivers behind you. Just as we were taught as children not to cut in line, do not condone such bullying behavior as adults.
  4. And, the DMV should sponsor a multimedia public-service campaign to promote responsible merging. With bumper stickers; radio announcements that air during morning and evening commute times; and outdoor signage posted beside routinely congested areas – each of which advises: “MERGE EARLY. NO CUTS.” (To be fair, the campaign could also propose a universal gesture to plead forgiveness for the unintentional screw-up.)


  • Gary says:

    This is one of my pet peeves. I am more upset with the people who allow it, then I am with the late mergers.

  • Steven says:

    This is such a great post. Late merging is selfish, ignorant, and dangerous. I doubt the assholes who chronically bully their way into the lane would be changed by the dramatic future argument (and how would you explain it to them anyway?), so bullying them back and shutting them out is probably the best solution. Unfortunately, I’m too passive in that regard. Slowing down and letting them in keeps my stress low. It’s not worth a fight. Peace and harmony. But now I realize that I’m part of the problem. It exponentially impacts everybody behind me. Thanks, Stuart. Now I’m mad.

  • Cheri Shaw says:

    Excellent analogy to the bully that cut in line as a kid. And equally excellent point about the disservice to the people behind you in line when you let someone cut in. Duly noted. And I will be more observant so that I’m not part of the problem.

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