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Is exit lane cheating OK or just plain wrong?

I-5 through Tacoma. (AP)
LISTEN: Is exit lane cheating OK or just plain wrong?

Many drivers know the feeling. It’s wrong. It’s dishonest. And there’s a certain adrenaline rush when you get away with it — exit lane cheating.

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Tacoma commuters are dealing with a rash of drivers hopping into exit lanes, speeding forward around other cars and then swerving back into the main lanes of traffic. As the Tacoma Tribune argues, it’s not a “menace.” Washington state troopers may disagree, however, and are primed to hand out $136 tickets to exit lane offenders. KIRO Radio’s John Curley would agree with them, despite cutting traffic corners himself.

“I would say I am a violator of the HOV, but I do respect the exit lane,” Curley said. “It’s a wild sense of freedom. It’s like going to the supermarket without your pants on. You get in there and drive along; people do look at you.”

“But driving in the exit lane and zipping up, the problem with that move is that you then have to make eye contact with somebody who is so mad at you,” he said. “Because they are playing by the rules and you decide you are going to slip in and jump back over. And that guy or gal is no way going to let you in. And the next guy sees what happens and they don’t let you in. The 10 cars back see what’s happening and no one let’s you in.”

Exit lane cheating has reportedly become popular in Tacoma as its traffic has been rated the 18th worst in the country with the stretch around the Tacoma Dome as one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks. The exit lane cheating maneuver isn’t exactly illegal in every exit situation around Tacoma. But that doesn’t matter, according to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil who told Curley that just because it isn’t illegal, doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.

“It’s what the kids these days would call a ‘hack.’ It’s a traffic hack,” Danny said. “We follow lines. Have you ever been in a country where they don’t queue? It’s a mad house. It’s an absolute mess. Situations like having an accident. We queue here. We wait in line. The thing about waiting in line — on a crowded freeway — is that you don’t get to jog over to the lane that ends in half a mile, then cut somebody off on the way back. Why? Because you are not waiting in line.”

“The problem is that the driver can say ‘Oh, I thought that was my exit, then I realized…’ Curley added. “So now the trooper is going to have to determine if the person is guilty or not based on the lie they tell the trooper.”

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