30 July 2007

The meaning of the word "Yield"

I've been driving back and forth between Chambersburg and metro Washington, DC recently and have noticed that there is a particular intersection that people seem to have problems understanding the meaning of a yield sign. The intersection is I-81 and I-70, going east on I-70 towards Frederick/Baltimore. For Dicksonians, this is the intersection that you'd go through if you were going to the Hagerstown outlets.
Anyhow, I-70 is essentially three lanes at this point, with one lane being a segregated lane that is meant to just be used by traffic getting on from or off onto I-81. I go around the cloverleaf from I-81 south onto I-70 going east and am in this third segregated lane. This lane will end shortly after the intersection (it merges with I-70 east) so I have to be at highway speed or close to it. Shortly before the third segregated lane merges with I-70, traffic from I-81 north merges in, at a yield sign. There is no merge area. The yield sign tips people off to the fact that there is no merge area. Despite this, people come into this intersection and expect me to yield to them.
A yield sign means that you may proceed if the way is clear. It does not mean that you can proceed if in so doing you'll require another car to apply its brakes hard (or, technically, apply its brakes at all) or take evasive action. Yet, at this intersection, people seem to take it that way. If you have to stop at this yield sign, because there is no merge area, then you have to stop.
Of course, I'm not going to prove my right of way to them, sure, I may have the right of way, but I'll also have a car in an accident, with all the hassle that comes with. So I've just learned to watch other cars at this intersection.
Of course, why Maryland thinks it is a good idea to have no merge area where two interstates merge together is another question, but that's for another blog entry.

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