Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Vote of the week: Changing lanes on the Interstate

July 9, 2010, 8:33 AM · It's time again for my family's annual summer roadtrip. We're in the Pacific Northwest right now, a region of the country not known for major theme parks, so the trip reports won't start coming for another week or so, when we visit Six Flags Great America, outside Chicago.

But with so many of us visiting our favorite theme parks by car over the summer, I thought I'd lay a driving-related vote on you this week.

Here's the scenario: You're driving on the Interstate, and there is a car up ahead of you in the lane to your immediate right. That car's driver signals to come over into your lane.

What is your immediate, gut reaction? I'm talking the reflex reaction, discounting any context of what's happening in that other driver's lane, or elsewhere on the road.

What do you do? Do you speed up to get ahead of that driver before s/he can come over? Or do you instinctively let up on the gas, to give that driver more space to change lanes?

Be honest. Your vote is anonymous (though comments aren't). Please click the reaction you feel like making most of the time.

I suspect that this one might provoke some, uh, lively comments. So tell us in the comments what you think about this situation - one we've all seen countless times on the road. And have a great week!

Replies (17)

July 9, 2010 at 8:45 AM · I speed up because I live in Orlando, FL and the last thing I need is a lost or confused tourist (or some other bad driver) in front of me.
July 9, 2010 at 10:21 AM · I was raised in northern New Jersey, about 11 miles from NYC. A lot of people in that area like to get into the left lane even if they're not going the speed limit. So yeah, a lot of the time I speed up. It all depends on the situation, though. I'm a lot more likely to let people in nowadays, but based on history, I have to go with "speed up."
July 9, 2010 at 10:28 AM · Typically, I do nothing. If there's sufficient space, then I shouldn't have to slow down. If there is insufficient space and they're driving maniacally, then I speed up. If they're driving well and have been trying to merge for a while, I'll slow down and let them in.

My choice is not categorized. Therefore, I didn't vote.

July 9, 2010 at 10:36 AM · If I am already closing the gap I speed up. If they are going about the same speed and will probably speed up once in front of me then I'll let them in.

I HATE when people in the slow lane just move over and cut me off to let someone on the interstate. Your "courtesy" move is so dangerous. If you want to let them in just slow down in your own lane. It is stupid to jump in front of traffic that is moving 10-15 mph faster than you. If the person merging in can't accelerate in the acceleration lane and get in front or behind you on their own, they shouldn't be getting on the interstate.

July 9, 2010 at 12:06 PM · While you're in our amusement park black hole here in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to take a whale watching excersion around the San Juan islands. Also, the wildflowers on Mount Rainier should be in bloom right now and are a must see!
July 9, 2010 at 12:59 PM · IT all depends. How much of a rush am I in to get where I am going. Rush hr on the Interstates in NJ is prety crazy.
July 9, 2010 at 1:58 PM · Tough to answer – It depends how much I had to drink…
July 9, 2010 at 2:46 PM · I always slow up the way my driving instructor taught me to do and now that we're past that horse and buggy era, I still slow up, lol.

How about this one Robert, you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, only to have someone pull in, in front of you, making the distance unsafe, so you slow up and make the space safe again, only to have someone else fill in that space again and you repeat this over and over, again and again and again. Not lol.

July 9, 2010 at 5:48 PM · This Jersey Boy slows up. I hate it when the space is there to safely move over, and JUST as you get your tire in the desired lane...the jerk behind you (Usually a New Yorker...sorry...they really can't drive...) decided to floor it. It's so dangerous.

P.S.- Don't feel bad for being singled out New Yorkers. Pennsylvania drivers are terrible as well.

July 9, 2010 at 6:22 PM · I witnessed a serious accident because a driver (who was not paying attention) merged into the left-hand lane, and the car that was there decided to try and play "driving police" and close the gap. Unfortunately, one car ended up in the ditch and the other ended up on its hood.

It's simple: If you speed up, you close the gap, increasing the likelihood of an accident. If you slow down, you widen the gap, decreasing the likelihood of an accident by increasing your time to react to uber-stupid drivers. QED.

July 9, 2010 at 7:06 PM · It really depends on what town I'm in. I've traveled thousands of miles on the road, and some cities are more full than others of knucklehead drivers. Typically I would be passing someone if they are to my right, so I would probably speed up a little so that they can get over more quickly. If the driver is clearly psychotic (as so many are), then I might slow down and let them go endanger some other life.
July 9, 2010 at 11:13 PM · The correct answer isn't provided for in the poll: Maintain speed. If they're changing lanes ahead of you, it is the other driver's responsibility to adjust their speed appropriately.
July 9, 2010 at 11:40 PM · It's far more dangerous (not to mention downright rude) to try and cut someone off from making a lane change, as described. If someone wants to merge into the lane I'm in, I let 'em do it, and then decide if I need to move around on my own based on how the other guy (or gal) is driving.

It's a practice I learned in Driver's Ed, long before I went to work for the state patrol, and it's one which has yet to fail me in 25+ years on the roads.

Shifting gears slightly (pun intended): Theme parks? In the Pacific Northwest? Foo. Don't need 'em. You've got no fewer than three major zoos to choose from, not to mention numerous smaller places (West Coast Game Park, Bandon, Oregon), plus whale watching, ultralight flying, kayaking, hiking, exploring, day trips to Canada, etc., ad infinitum.

In short -- You've got choices in the region for any number of experiences and activities which, unlike the short-term (and largely superficial) adrenaline rush from a coaster or whatever, will likely stay with you for life.

Some may even change the way you look at life (if you're brave enough to let them). ;-)

Happy travels.

July 9, 2010 at 11:52 PM · When I'm on vacation, I just take my time driving. If people feel the need to fly past me or need to get over, I let them, mostly because I'm usually in an area I'm not familiar with.

As somehow who lives about 2 1/2 hours from Seattle, I would say get through traffic as best as you can. Those people are in quite a hurry over there.

July 10, 2010 at 4:49 AM · I try to get ahead of them-and get ready to lay on the horn in case I am in their blind spot.

Hope you enjoy the trip to Great America--its construction season in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, so make sure you give yourself a little bit of time :)

July 10, 2010 at 9:22 AM · It really does depend on the unwritten "rules of the road" in any given locality. Not every town follows the driver's ed handbook, nor do they follow the posted speed limit. Slowing down in many big cities is more likely to get you or someone else rear-ended, especially if you are in a passing lane. Driving like a little old lady down I95 is just as dangerous in many spots as speeding. Anticipation and driving defensively, but with the flow of traffic is the safest in my accident free experience (knock on wood).

If they were ahead of me and shifting lanes, then I would probably let them over. If they are next to me, than I have the right of way and I'm probably already passing. They can wait to get over, just as I would if I was in their position.

July 10, 2010 at 9:20 PM · I have to said that like a lot of people here, it depends. But in my case it's just not about the situation only, but my mood. I know it's not the prettiest answer, but if I'm in a good mood I let them past even do if I have to decide to slow down or speed up, well; they're probably doing something wrong. But if I got a history with such driver in which before he wouldn't let me pass, or accelerated when I was passing. Then I take it personal, and don't let such driver pass. Sorry! Time to eat dust now! I know that's not the nice thing to do, but while doing this, I tried to never endanger any ones life, especially my own...

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