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4xForward - On & Off Road Traffic

Posted in Features on August 1, 2007
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Contributors: Rick Péwé

Anybody can bitch and whine about traffic; in fact I'll bet we all do it on a regular basis. And I don't mean just traffic on the highway either, as many a trail ride can be more frustrating than a daily commute. On thehighway, it's pretty simple most of the time: Go the other way or drive at a different time. Of course there are always those interesting drivers that need to be avoided. Those are: Left Laners, Clueless Mergers, Blockers, and Sympathy Brakers.

Left Laners are those that sit in the left lane regardless of their speed, and regardless of whether or not the right lane is occupied. Now I can't quote chapter and verse, but generally the law is "Keep Right Except to Pass" which means pass someone and get back over to the right. If you're going the same speed as the other car, lag back or go faster to fall in line, and the world will be a better place.

On the other side of the freeway, the Clueless Mergers tend to enter the freeway at their own speed and state of mind, which is usually not paying attention. Again, the rule is to "Merge With Traffic," not have the traffic merge with you. That means adjusting your speed to what is present, and looking for the place to safely enter the traffic stream. Unfortunately most Clueless Mergers think they have the right of way, oblivious to the yellow sign that shows them as the little black line merging into the big black line.

Blockers tend to hold their own, literally by blocking lanes. This is accomplished either by a steady speed matching the other traffic or, worse, by speeding up and slowing down the same as the other traffic for no other reason than inattention. This makes sure that traffic is snarled by not allowing any variances in the traffic pattern to allow for change and progress. Most Blockers will usually go at exactly the speed limit (or a few mph less) regardless of the traffic flow, which causes some drivers to develop road rage.

Sympathy Brakers are the most fun, as they will put on their own brakes when they see brake lights come on four lanes to the right and a half mile ahead. Needless to say, this fouls up the traffic flow by slowing every vehicle down, without the corresponding increase in safety. These drivers are not the same as those that ride the brakes and therefore always have their brake lights on; it's a bit hard to tell when they are really slowing down or just ruining your vision with the bright lights.

On the other hand, off-road traffic requires a different type of analysis and action. First off, going on a different trail is the best solution to beating trail traffic. The other option is of course to try a different day or time. But if you happen to be jammed up with a bunch of rigs on a single trail, just enjoy the fact that you aren't stuck in town fighting the hoards. Never go off the trail to go around; just sit back and relax, or better yet walk ahead and see if you can help the situation. Getting upset or honking the horn belongs somewhere else-we see plenty of that during our daily drives. Unfortunately, we recently had a group of people zing by us on a trail ride as we were temporarily immobilized on the trail. Not one driver offered to help, but instead the whole group acted like busy little ants more intent on getting around us and concerned about catching up to the last vehicle. In fact, one vehicle almost rolled on us in their haste, without even a wave, a friendly "hi," or an offer to help. I just hope this mentality isn't what we have to look forward to on the trail as more and more people join our sport. That type of stuff belongs back on the road, not off.

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