6.29.2004

Road Justice on I-80




I-80.

Danville, PA.

Construction.

Conflict.

Seems the big-rig truckers have teamed up to exact fairness - or their version of fairness - on the highway.

It's not that I take I-80 terribly frequently, but that there's been construction around Danville for years.

The DOT now instructs drivers to "stay in lanes until turn" which I take to mean that two lanes should exist until there is just one lane.

The truckers have other ideas.

The first time I witnessed this phenomenon, I was headed east, minding my own business. As I drew up to the construction constriction, it was clear that the 50 vehicles before me had collectively decided to form a single lane well before the merge.

Okay. That's cool.

Back then, there were no instructions one way or another about maintaining lanes, just a notification that the left lane would end in 1500 feet, and to merge right.

A guy in a muscle car decides to break ranks. He flies by all the waiting cars and proceeds toward the head of the line, slowing as he nears the merge point.

Air horns blow and just as he's fifteen cars from the single lane, a big rig pulls out in front of him and just hangs in the left lane, blocking his forward progress.

Well. Muscle car man doesn't take kindly to that and he makes to take an end run around the right flank. Nope. That's not going to work either. The eighteen wheeler in the right lane moves onto the right berm.

I understand the principal and smile. Yeah. But the guy in the car doesn't want to get it. He doesn't want external judgment on fairness. He jockies for position as the two big trucks prevent him from jumping the line.

Only three cars behind him, I can see his gesticulations of frustration and disbelief. The trucks have got him boxed in. Even my adrenaline rises as I watch the relatively small car try to defy the trucks' decision.

Needless to say, when the highway once again opens up, the muscle car guns his engine and is off. Later, I tell friends and family the story with not a little amazement at the street justice I'd witnessed.

This last time cross-state, I noted the new signs that exhort drivers to use both lanes.

But drivers were not using both lanes as I slowed and got in line and read not one but two, then three neon orange instructions. I read them and thought, "They want two lanes here for some reason. Why not?" I pulled
into the left lane and slowly made my way forward thinking, "What the fuck?"

An air horn blew. Uh-oh.

I gave way and let a bunch of cars who'd waited patiently proceed. When I thought enough cars had passed for the fairness principal to be in effect I saw an opening in front of a truck who would not be able to pick up enough speed from a full stop to prevent my entry into the line. But he gunned it and cut me off.

"Holy shit!"

I pulled off to the left between some cones, out of his way. His horn blared.

I freaked and bided more time before trying once again to enter the slowly moving stop-and-go traffic.

At the end of the construction zone, the truck who'd cut me off moved more slowly than I felt was normal under the circumstances. Paranoia? Was he waiting to give me a some piece of his mind? He slowed. I slowed.

An exit was only a couple miles down the road.

I matched the truck's slow speed until we hit the exit and at the last possible moment, I bailed for refueling even though I had half a tank.

Road rage. Road justice. Whatever.

My blood pressure was through the roof.

I-80. Danville PA.

Maintain one lane before merge.

I'm just saying.

5 comments:

  1. Man, that's some scary shit. I have to think that if that had happened in Oakland, there would have been gunplay.

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  2. That thought of violent gunplay certainly entered my mind as the fellow in the muscle car gesticulated in rage and frustration.

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  3. I have seen this phenomena all over the southeast. Truckers universally consider themselves to be the "traffic police" and do this sort of thing all the time. I have also witnessed them pull in front of a car that they deem to be traveling too fast. Whatever. Anyway, like your site, visit me sometime at www.gimpydumptruck.blogspot.com

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  4. Cool site, Jeff. The visually evocative moniker of a "gimpy dump truck" was impossible to resist.

    Am not surprised that others have seen trucks acting as "traffic police". More recently on I-80 I witnessed a big rig hanging in the left lane for what seemed to be too long a time. Guessing he knew something I did not, I hung in the right lane behind him for about 7 miles and waited.

    Nothing.

    Finally, at 70 MPH, traffic caught up with us and began to pass on the right. I soon followed.

    Who knows?

    J

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  5. Hi, I was looking around some blogger blogs for some ideas to start my own on ebooks and you have given me some great ideas. Good blog. I will check it out every week. Thanks

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