Morning Commute Creates Traffic Jam of Confusion

The in basket: Linda Woodward writes: “Every morning I enter (Highway) 3 southbound via the Newberry Hill entry that comes in from the east. It being rush hour, I often have a knot of traffic to contend with, as well as traffic entering from the western entry off of Newberry Hill.

“As I’m getting wedged between two streams of traffic, it is my understanding that, while I have to merge in with the (Highway) 3 traffic, the vehicles from the other entry have to merge into my lane of traffic. Am I correct?

“I have had horns blown and single-finger salutes waved by people coming in from the west who seem to think it’s my responsibility to defer to everyone on the road, regardless of which side they are approaching from.


The in basket: Linda Woodward writes: “Every morning I enter (Highway) 3 southbound via the Newberry Hill entry that comes in from the east. It being rush hour, I often have a knot of traffic to contend with, as well as traffic entering from the western entry off of Newberry Hill.

“As I’m getting wedged between two streams of traffic, it is my understanding that, while I have to merge in with the (Highway) 3 traffic, the vehicles from the other entry have to merge into my lane of traffic. Am I correct?

“I have had horns blown and single-finger salutes waved by people coming in from the west who seem to think it’s my responsibility to defer to everyone on the road, regardless of which side they are approaching from. Is there any signage along either of the entries to let us all know who is supposed to be doing what?

“Am I completely wrong here? Or is it just another symptom of people getting more rude on our roads. (Or is that my imagination, too?)”

The out basket: There is a yield sign on the uphill on-ramp and not on the lower on-ramp. That underscores the rule – those entering on the uphill ramp have to yield to Linda and others in the downhill ramp, and both have to yield to those on the mainline.

Says Trooper Brian George, Washington State Patrol spokesman, “The basic rule is if the lane you are in is ending, you need to yield to all vehicles in the lane you are entering. If you enter southbound (Highway) 3 from Newberry Hill the furthest right lane ends first, so a driver would have to yield to all vehicles to their left.”

In real life, such merges are often an unspoken transaction between drivers who don’t always follow the rule. But if a collision results at that merge, the driver who should have yielded and didn’t would get the ticket.

There was a book review in Sunday’s paper about “Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today,” which would support Linda’s perception of the darkening mood on our roads.

I can’t say that I’ve noticed it, outside of what growing congestion would explain. There are a certain number of drivers who will be boorish when frustrated, and with the number of cars outpacing the room for them on our local roads, the opportunities for frustration multiply.

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