Infrastructure & Environment

Cheering Squad: Seattle Settles a Line-Cutting Score

In most places, traffic cops don't get no respect for hanging around to nab drivers for their sins. In Seattle, however, two motorcycle cops are revered for patrolling a freeway ramp to stop drivers who cut in line.
by | May 2005

In most places, traffic cops don't get no respect for hanging around to nab drivers for their sins. In Seattle, however, two motorcycle cops are revered for patrolling a freeway ramp to stop drivers who cut in line. They get grateful waves, happy honks and jubilant thumbs-up from truckers, commuters and other traffic-enervated drivers patiently waiting their turn to move forward into the stop-and-go miasma of northbound Interstate 5.

Traffic officers in Seattle can ticket drivers simply for the act of cutting in line, a violation not common elsewhere in the country. The ticketing began at the urging of aggravated drivers, many of whom contacted the Department of Transportation to get it to do something about lane jumpers--drivers too impatient to wait their turn in the proper lane. "People called. They were incensed," says Sergeant J Miller. "It was creating much hate and discontent."

The ramp where the abusers were flagrantly skirting the law has two freeway-bound lanes, one for southbound traffic and one for northbound. The cheaters would sail along in the uncrowded southbound lane and then scoot over farther up in the queue. To stop the potential road rage of others, the Transportation Department improved signs and painted a double white line. The ticketing officers, hidden by a yellow-and-black crash barrier, wave the violators over and issue citations for disobeying traffic signs. The fine is a patience- enhancing $101.

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