Friday, November 4, 2011
PennDOT Plays a Practical Joke at My Expense
I ran into a traffic jam while commuting home. About ten minutes into the jam I scooted past a sign that said, "Left lane closed in half a mile, merge right."
So most everyone was merging to the right. Or trying to. This was a two-lane highway, and while I'm sure other states are guilty of this (I'm going to single PA out, anyways, because even PennDOT says to do this), when Pennsylvanians see a "merge left/right" sign they don't wait until the road actually becomes a single lane to begin merging but instead they immediately force themselves into a single lane of drivers, even if that means for the closing lane to just stop completely and wait for an opening. In light traffic, sure, this works great; but in heavy traffic this isn't the ideal way to merge.
But I'm not writing about how to do things the right way. I'm writing about how Pennsylvanians do things their way, and it's sort of an unwritten rule to absolutely fuck over the closing lane, so you can bet that the second I saw that sign I joined the herd before a vigilante sixteen-wheeler leaped out in front of me and braked hard, which is a tactic they use around here because they're all fucking psychos.
About a quarter-mile after the last sign I pass another one. It reads, "Right lane closed in half a mile, merge left."
So now everyone is confused. You've got some drivers trying to merge left, others trying to merge right, but most of them are convinced that they're in the correct lane and that they're entitled to the right of way and need to do their best to keep the other lane from merging into theirs. Just imagine a traffic jam, only everyone is twice as angry and frustrated as normal. It was fucking dangerous.
After about fifteen more minutes of tense stop-and-go, the traffic begins to clear up and I get to accelerate out of the mess.
There was no lane closure. No construction crews. Nothing but those two signs.