What is a Lineupper?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Whenever an upcoming traffic situation calls for all drivers to merge into a designated lane or exit off the roadway, two different driving personalities often emerge. A lineupper will immediately position herself in the designated lane for through traffic, while a sidezoomer will continue to pass drivers until his reaches a final pinch point. Many sidezoomers count on the goodwill of a lineupper to allow them to merge into the proper lane(s) at the last possible moment.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

A lineupper type of driver tends to understand the temporary nature of most planned traffic merges. Eventually the traffic ahead will get past the obstruction or accident site, and the lineupper will not have to depend on the kindness of others to get in the proper lane when normal traffic flow resumes. Traffic controllers and law enforcement officers strongly encourage a lineupper driving philosophy whenever merge lanes are properly marked and there is ample time for drivers to make a proper decision.

The relationship between lineuppers and sidezoomers can be described as contentious at best, nearly homicidal at worst. Sidezoomers may successfully avoid waiting in an endless line of traffic at first, but eventually their luck runs out, generally at the last possible merge point. Despite ample warnings and opportunities to merge into the lineupper population, some sidezoomers assume a benevolent lineupper will hold back traffic while they merge. Not all lineuppers are prone to benevolence, however, especially those who have been patiently waiting in a very long line of traffic.

One frequent trigger for road rage occurs whenever an aggressive sidezoomer drives all the way to a pinch point without making any effort at all to merge into the traffic earlier. The lineupper who has just reached the traffic pinch point can become enraged at a sidezoomer who essentially forces his or her way to the front of the line. This frustration at being cut off by a driver who has already taken shameless advantage of a side lane can boil over into full-fledged road rage under the right conditions.

Some lineuppers can also adopt a passive-aggressive approach in order to thwart sidezoomers. A lineupper can position his or her car in such a way that side traffic essentially becomes blocked. Any sidezoomer who assumed he or she would move unimpeded to the merge point becomes sadly mistaken. This type of lineupper/blocker still maintains his or her own position in the proper lane while keeping aggressive sidezoomers at bay.

Some would-be sidezoomers learn early that the lineuppers have the right idea and will make an effort to merge into the main traffic lane long before a pinch point. This is when a courteous lineupper should allow a few sidezoomers the opportunity to merge safely. A lineupper shouldn't feel obligated to allow a dozen sidezoomers to merge late, but some well-intentioned drivers may not realize their lane is going to end or merge so abruptly. Some lineupper kindness along the way can help prevent even more serious traffic snarls further down the road.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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