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Rush-Hour Ethics

Here’s a phenomenon that really peeves me. On my way home every weekday, I pass South through these two intersections. During rush-hour, traffic can get quite backed up here, so the wait can easily be ten or fifteen minutes at this one point in my drive home.

What’s worse is that people cheat. As the second map below shows, people take a side road over to Peoria, turn South, then line up at the same intersection, but in a much shorter line. When their light turns green, they cut in front of all the people waiting patiently. Argg!

Rush-Hour Ethics

The green dots represent nice people, waiting in line as they should. The red dots repesent people who believe they’re better than everyone else and cut in line.

I see this happen every day. I will be nearly at the end of the line, watching cars turn down the side road. It’s become somewhat of an obsession (one that only serves to make me angry every time I indulge it) for me to make a mental note of these heathen people’s cars and watch as they pull in 50 car lengths ahead of me moments later.

What do you think? Is it wrong to do this sort of thing?



  1. Let me preface my comments with saying that I, too, get mad about “cheaters” in traffic. One place on my route home the right lane becomes right turn only at a particular intersection. That makes the other two lanes very backed up to get through that light and go forward. Nevertheless, some “special” people go down to the end of that lane, wait at the light, and go straight through (the lane continues on the other side of the intersection – not sure why it’s a forced right turn there). Not only does this angerfy the people waiting, but sometimes those that WANT to turn right there can’t, and it angerfies them as well – they honk repeatedly at the abuser.

    Now, on your situation – no, I don’t think that is cheating. They are using regular roads, and even driving a further distance (2 sides of the triangle) to get around an obstacle. As long as they aren’t violating any traffic laws to do what they do, then I don’t see how they can be cheating. Sorry.

    I understand the feeling, though.

  2. Agreed, there aren’t any violations of the law here. Yet, because these cars are cutting, the normal flow of traffic is slower.

    OK, so thank you for your honest answer. Perhaps this is misplaced or inappropriate peevedness.

  3. Tim, I would agree with you. I have the exact same obsessions and can’t stand it. jmikec has a point though – it’s not illegal. But it definitely is not what’s best for the group (remember the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’?) The ironic thing was I actually did something like this today. However, it was pouring rain and I was on a motorcycle. I know, it’s no excuse. I usually never do it. Kind of odd though, that I came home to this post on your site on the same day I did something like that. You’re my moral compass.

  4. If I saw a guy on a motorcycle do this while it was raining, then I’d like to think I’d have some pitty. But, moral compass? Ha!

  5. Tim said:
    “Agreed, there aren’t any violations of the law here. Yet, because these cars are cutting, the normal flow of traffic is slower.”

    I like to think of it as market forces prevailing. If more people start doing it, then the alternate route will clog, and the main route will loosen up. :-)

  6. No, the flow of traffic is actually increased by people “cheating”. If they weren’t taking this short cut, all those people would be in your line, making it longer, and you’d all be sitting there waiting while the second light is green for no one.

  7. No, actually it’s one of thoese lights that is smart enough to know when someone is waiting. If no one is sitting in the other line, then the light doesn’t turn green for that side.

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