Case in point…

I’ve cajoled on this site time and again about how ridiculous Detroit drivers can be. I’m reminded of the level of idiocy whenever I travel away from the city.

As I write from Pittsburgh, I want to give a prime example of why MDOT and the MVC sometime exacerbate the situation.

Regardless of our 12-month orange barrel season (which I firmly believe is a conspiracy between the Big Three, MDOT and contractors – more on that later), there are some rules of the road that make NO sense. One is regarding lane closures…

I was driving here in Pittsburgh last night, and came upon a lane closure on I-79. These never seem to bother me in Pennsylvania (while they drive me BATTY in Michigan) because of the way they’re handled. Here, the law says that all lanes should be used as far as possible before a car-by-car merge. In other words, if the right lane on a 2-lane highway is closed, cars drive all the way up the merge point, then cars take turns merging. AMAZINGLY, the jams aren’t as long, and people let each other in regularly as the law requires.

IN CONTRAST, the Michigan law states that, using the same example, as soon as a driver in the right lane sees the ‘blinking arrow’ indicator sign, the car must merge ASAP. So, why does it matter? Let’s see:

a) half the drivers ignore the rule and speed quickly to the end of the lane, then force their merge between angry drivers that are POd at the ‘cheating’ driver (if you’ve ever driven to a Wings game, and driven on Jefferson under Cobo, you know EXACTLY what I mean);
b) Bernoulli’s principle, baby: why put all the cars in one lane before you have to? It creates more pressure in that lane, and wastes an open lane, sometimes for as long as a mile before the lane closure.

Nothing surprises me about the stupidity of the Michigan Vehicle Code, nor about Detroit/Michigan drivers. But there are definitely some obvious changes that could be made, just by looking at other states and seeing the success of their laws.

2 Comments so far

  1. Matt (unregistered) on December 30th, 2005 @ 8:26 am

    You’ll be happy to know that Michigan is thinking of implementing the exact method you’re talking about in Philadelphia. It’s called the “zipper method”- I came across an article in the Detroit News a few months ago on how this method is MUCH more effective. I completely agree with you though- I never understood the whole “let’s merge into 1 lane 3 miles away from the constuction zone”.

  2. max (unregistered) on December 30th, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

    we can’t get people to stop robbing, shooting, car jacking, dealing, dropping out and/or generally ripping us off but we’re going to expect them to all suddenly “zipper” together on the highway out of shear politeness and courtesy for their fellow humans? it will be believed when seen. or will the police be on hand to issue tickets to those that don’t comply during the initial break in period? doubt it…my house was broken into a few weeks ago and i wasn’t sure if the burgalurs were still inside so i called 911 and waited outside as instructed…for TWO HOURS! good in theory but not in Detroit.

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