Confusing Traffic Things

The Things You’re Definitely Doing Wrong

Even the most seasoned drivers come across certain things that are confusing. Things like 4 way stops or roundabouts. Those things that you don’t encounter every single day, or the things you encounter but no one else does so the other confused drivers make travel absolutely infuriating. So here’s a list of confusing things you may encounter while driving around the metro area and how to navigate them without a loss of sanity or life.

Merging onto the Highway

Panic on the Highway – possibly the worst place to panic.

Did you seriously go up the on ramp then slow down to a complete stop before merging onto the highway? If this is you, you are doing it wrong! The on ramp is the place in which you SPEED UP so that you can successfully merge into traffic that is going around 60 mph.

For some reason, many younger drivers think they need to slow down when going up the on ramp, then have a complete panic attack when they cannot find an opening to get on the highway. If you’re the absolute a-hole doing this to get onto I-66 around 9am every morning, I’m coming for you.

Pro-Tip: Most highways give you your own on-ramp specific lane before you are required to merge.

4 Way Stops

We’ve all been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to figure out who goes first…

You know that spot where your Mom and Dad have been saying, “They ought to put a light here,” for the past 15 years? That’s the spot we’re talking about. The dreaded 4-way stop sign, known and hated by suburbanites across the nation. So normally these are first come first serve, but what happens when you don’t know who got there first or whose turn it is next?

Virginia has pretty solid ‘Right of Way’ laws. This includes the ‘Pedestrians always have right of way’, which you’ve surely been told your entire life, but also includes whose turn it is at the 4 way stop sign. If you don’t know whose turn it is, always yield to the driver on your right. If you’re to the right of the other guy, it’s probably your turn. When there are 4 people at the 4 way stop and you don’t know who got there first, someone will becoming impatient and will just go (it is Northern Virginia, after all, we are all very important people will very important things to do) and then the person to their left will hopefully get the hint and then you go clockwise from there.

Using a Roundabout

While very entertaining, this is not the correct way to use a roundabout. He got MAD AIR though!

Using a Roundabout

The internet has provided us with many graphs and infographics about the intricacies of roundabouts, but they’re actually pretty simple. You go around the circle and exit the circle at the correct road, depending on where you want to go. It’s just like a stop light, but you keep moving. If you’d normally go straight, just go around the circle and exit at the road that was directly in front of you before you got into the roundabout.

If you’re not in DC proper or don’t have to commute there everyday for work, you’re probably not super familiar with the roundabout. We are getting a few in Virginia lately and Maryland has even started putting these in the suburbs. They’re more efficient than lights, usually, and cause less accidents than multiple stop signs. The trick is to merge into the roundabout without slowing down, like the complete jerks we discussed above who think they need to come to a stop before merging. You don’t.

Blocking the Box

Blocking the Box should be a criminal charge, especially in Fairfax City.

If you’re confused about what this means, I hope you don’t have a license. This is the biggest jerk move in all of driving, blocking the box because you can’t possibly be asked to wait when the light is green. If your car cannot make it completely across the intersection, without blocking access to those on the left and right who need to cross the intersection when their light turns green, YOU MUST STOP AT THE LIGHT! There isn’t an exception. The cops, nor the other motorists, will care that your light was green when you crossed into the middle of the intersection. They will honk, they will scream and you’re likely to get a few rude hand gestures. You better hope a Karen isn’t recording too.