October 23, 2018

Labor Day Traffic



Labor Day weekend in Northern Michigan is only days away, and many of us will engage in traditional Labor Day activities—getting out on the water, barbecuing, and waiting in traffic.

Waiting in traffic is more than a Labor Day tradition, actually. It’s a multi-holiday tradition. As in, if it’s a holiday, and you’re driving somewhere, be prepared to wait in traffic.

Construction on I-75 in northern Bay and southern Arenac Counties this weekend will no doubt slow traffic to a standstill as drivers abuse their gas and brake pedals in a futile attempt to get ahead of the game. It’s a sad, sad truth that while we all see the lane closure signs posted well before any lanes start narrowing, many drivers stay in the fast lane and get as far as they can before succumbing to the inevitable and shifting over.

Is it still road rage when I’m sitting in a motionless car, watching people zip up the line past me when they should have merged miles ago? In that type of situation, I usually indulge in a lot of yelling, (with, of course, some profanity thrown in) but I never actually act out my fantasies of ramming the offenders off the road. I have a 1993 Oldsmobile. It could take a hybrid, right?

It’s hard to admit that drivers who speed to the head of the line and wait to be let in by some kind soul are not breaking any laws. They’re being rude and inconsiderate, but as much as it grates, those traits can’t be considered crimes.

Just once, I’d like to see how fast I could get through a construction zone on a holiday weekend if everyone merged into one lane in an orderly fashion, back when they first saw the lane closure sign.

In this fantasy, drivers coming up on a line of slowed cars before a merger would not zip past them; they would slow down and merge in behind the waiting drivers, telling themselves that, no matter how much they would like to get ahead of the mess, they should be considerate and wait their turn in line.

Do I think this is ever going to happen? No, of course not. But imagining how much nicer it would be is a good distraction when I’m stopped on the highway before a lane closure, watching cars cut in ahead of me.


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7 mile road just sits there about 1/2 mile west of the E-way and takes you around the construction. Nice 2 lane road with light traffic. Get on @ Beaver Road and get off in Sterling. Save yourself the frustration.

Friday, September 2, 2011 | Report this

Aw PizzaMan; why are you giving those impatient 'down-state' people are up-north secret. Let them fight it out. ;-) Personally, I sometimes move to that fast lane and drive along side of the vehicle in the driving lane to stop those people in all that hurry. I've even seen them driving on either shoulder to still get ahead. Courtesy or patience aren't in their volcabulary. :-(

Sunday, September 4, 2011 | Report this

"It’s a sad, sad truth that while we all see the lane closure signs posted well before any lanes start narrowing, many drivers stay in the fast lane and get as far as they can before succumbing to the inevitable and shifting over. " I recently consulted with the Michigan State Police regarding this. Their response: "Both lanes of traffic are open to traffic until the point at which the lane closure starts. Blocking an open lane is illegal."

According to the Michigan State Police, you do not have to merge into the "driving" lane as soon as you see the first "construction ahead" sign. Therefore if YOU choose to merge that early, you should have no expectiation of other drivers "waiting their turn" behind you. So hobfrauhaus, when you appoint yourself the "lane police" not only are you endangering others you are also breaking the law.

If both lanes are utilized until a reasonable distance from the construction zone, and then people slowed down enough to let each other merge closer to the lane closure, there would be no completely stopped traffic in one lane and clear pavement in the other, and everyone wins. It's a shame so many Michigan drivers are so unaware of the law.

I have driven extensively in other states, and Iowa and others do it right...when approaching a construction zone, the signage instructs drivers how far away the construction is, but not to merge at that time...it counts down the miles, then says "merge here" and instructs drivers in the open lane to let in drivers from the closing lane at the merge point. It works smoothly and efficiently and you will rarely see completely stopped traffic in such states. Such as system would be ideal here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Report this

What grates on my nerves in construction zones are the speed limits that I'M trying to follow and no one else is! It says 60 mph, or 45 when workers present, for a reason. I'm trying to go (mostly) the speed limit & people are still going 80 mph! And then they get ticked at me, like its ME that's risking everyone's lives, including the construction worker's! Hey, if you've got the $5,000 or 7 years in prison time to waste, go for it! (sarcasm there, btw ;) )

Thursday, September 8, 2011 | Report this

Well all I got to say is when people are in a hurry to pass others on the road, and cant wait their turn, then when ever they get into a wreck on the highway, they will sure be in a line , in the afterlife at the gates, waiting their turn to get in , and I am sure there will be no takeing cuts to get ahead .

Friday, September 9, 2011 | Report this

To mimacchia.... I will keep you in mind if I ever need legal advice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Report this

Sorry Hofbrauhaus, you're on your own when you get your reckless driving and impeding traffic citations...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | Report this

mimacchia; I guess I'm gonna have to retract my idea; you've already got me convicted of citations that don't fit the situation. Maybe somebody else can use your opinions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | Report this

"Personally, I sometimes move to that fast lane and drive along side of the vehicle in the driving lane to stop those people in all that hurry. " Your words, hofbrauhaus.

MI Vehicle Code 257.676b Impeding Traffic: "A person, without authority, shall not block, obstruct, impede, or otherwise interfere with the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic upon a public street or highway in this state, by means of a barricade, object, or device, or with his or her person. "

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Report this

Not my opinion, either, it's the opinion of the State Police...maybe you should take it up with them...

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Report this

Mimacchia: Egads, I didn't realize that I was confessing to a Trooper. I generally/usually follow all the laws BUT get really irritated at those 'people' who know that they have to merge, have plenty of opportunity to do so, but would rather see how far ahead they can get by speeding past ya and 'cutting the line' and EXPECT you to let them in when their lane is eliminated. Most generally it's those big city folk who don't have the patience us up north people have by merging at the first opportunity. Those lane cutters are the one that cause the delays by 'forcing' themselves in when they can't get ahead any further.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Report this

The delay is caused by EVERYONE getting over at the first opportunity, two or three miles before the merge point, which is not required. Yes, I understand, most drivers in Michigan take it personally when someone gets in front of them, like it's a race or something. Bottom line is there is no legal requirement to get over when you see the first "construction ahead" sign. Sorry you don't like it. Hope the fine isn't too bad when you get ticketed for teachin' em' a lesson.

Look what I posted about Iowa. We should have that system in Michigan.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Report this

I've come to those signs while driving across the country like you wrote about. I have no problem doing what I'm suppose to do but others just don't get it. I'm confident that I wouldn't get a ticket if I didn't let those impatient drivers into my lane at the end of their lane. They should know that the through lane has the right of way and they can merge when it is clear. On a w/e; that would be never. ;-) Save travels to ya macchia.

Friday, September 16, 2011 | Report this

I agree you wouldn't get a ticket if you didn't let them over at the end of their lane, but that's not what was discussed earlier...a ticketable offense is what you posted earlier..."I sometimes move to that fast lane and drive along side of the vehicle in the driving lane to stop those people in all that hurry. " Both lanes have the right of way until the closure, and yes you should merge when it is clear...but if everyone merges immediately, you have a standstill for miles in one lane and an unnecessarily unused lane. If everyone used both lanes until it was time to merge, (a) there would be more room to merge because the traffic would be spread over two lanes and (b) the through lane wouldn't come to a complete standstill for miles, making drivers mad and doing things like block the fast lane because of some perceived sense of inherent unfairness. Think of it as two sides of a zipper...separate utnil the closure, where each side comes together.

Safe travels to you too. :-)

Friday, September 16, 2011 | Report this

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