What does "He cut me off" mean, anyway?



I’ve heard people talk about “cutting me/you/him off” forever, but I never actually knew what that meant. The other day I was running out of entry ramp and the whole line of cars on the highway was tailgating the guy in front of each of them. I had to go in so I went in. I had to get in front of somebody. Of course if a guy is enough of a (censored) to tailgate, he’s enough of a (censored) to have an emotional breakdown about someone getting in front of him.

Is that “cutting someone off”? Or is it something else?



it’s not the other drivers job to let you onto the highway, it’s your job to SAFELY merge.


I think this one is going to go on for a long time. I expect maybe several hundred responses.

Every day I used to encounter an entrance ramp in Burnsville-that’s in Minnesota. Prior to the long two lane ramp was a stop/go light. So the cars would bunch up, then when the light turned, 20 or 30 of them would fight to merge into one entrance lane and then flow into the freeway. The problem was instead of allowing some space between each, they would all flow bumper to bumper onto the freeway, jamming everything up. They just don’t get the idea of spreading out a little for an orderly entrance.

Last night I was coming back to town on a two lane. A car was stopped on the side of the road and hardly any other cars around. As soon as I got close, he pulled out in front of me causing me to brake. Then proceeded about 10 mph below the limit for the next few miles into town. So we finally got to the intersection that splits into a four lane and after a block or two with him in the left lane driving slowly, I changed to the right lane to go around him. As I did, he moved into the right lane, forcing me to the shoulder. I think I would call that “cutting me off” for the second time. I never could see if it was a man, woman, child, or animal driving and thought maybe “he” was on the side of the road lighting another joint or something, so I kept my distance. “He” proceeded to the freeway and have no idea if he ever made it home.

Thanks for listening. Driving every day though, one thing that used to amaze me was the drivers on the weekend. The weekends were the most dangerous time to be on the road. People that normally don’t drive. Don’t know where they are going and don’t care. Don’t know the roads and the traffic patterns, and don’t know the rules for orderly driving.


These discussions usually sort themselves into two groups. Group one is “the impatient ones” who believe that merging is “your” problem and they can follow as close as they want on the highway. Group two are defensive drivers who realize the goal of driving is to arrive at your destination safely. This group leaves proper spacing on the highway and allows merging drivers to safely merge in (or they move over to the middle or left lane).

If you are patient, and a defensive driver, you will not generally get “cut off”. If you are in a hurry and aggravated, it will happen more often. Next time you get cut off think about your frame of mind. I agree with the OP. I merge onto the highway many times a day. At least once a day there is someone who speeds up to “prevent” me from merging. I always wonder what their frame of mind is. Do they think that commuting is a race with a prize and a trophy?


I usually consider it to be “cutting off” if the one “cutting off” has a reasonable alternative but chooses to pull out in front of someone. I tend to avoid cutting people off when I’m patient and when I think I’m not the most important person on the road.
Merging in heavy traffic tends to bring out driving dilemmas because both cars both have a “right” to do what they do and there is not space for both.The cars in the lanes should let the merging cars in, but where do they go? The cars merging shouldn’t pull in front of the other cars, but stopping on the on-ramp is unsafe, too.
I wouldn’t consider your action in that situation cutting someone off.


It seems to be the norm that those who suddenly pull-out in front of me–and cause me to jam my brakes on–will then proceed to drive way below the speed limit. I don’t think that you or I will ever be able to figure-out that type of driver behavior, but I tend to think that these people are totally unaware of what is going on around them. Whether that is the result of drugs, or alcohol, or paying attention to a cellphone, or senility, the bottom line is that I observe this stuff fairly often, and it is very annoying, as well as dangerous.

On a slightly different note, yesterday while I was traveling on two different roads, drivers suddenly pulled-out of a side street and proceeded to make a left turn directly in front of me. My vehicle has daytime running lights, and the weather was clear, so it could not have been a case of inability to see my vehicle directly in front of them. If I had not braked very hard, I might have T-boned both of those oblivious morons.



OP, you cut someone off when you did that forced merge. The cars on the highway have the right of way and you do not. You can merge only when you can do so safely without causing other drivers to slow down or swerve.


I was on I70 in Ohio a few weekends ago, in the left lane, several of us were passing a tractor trailer in the right lane. In 2 or 3 minutes we would all have been past the truck. Some idiot in a pick up came racing up the right lane and forced his way in behind me, forcing the pick up behind me off on the shoulder. That is certainly cutting some one off. No accident, but lots of smoking brakes. I was on the PA turnpike this weekend and saw the same behavior, nobody was forced off the road, but I frequently see am impatient moron trying the same thing. They only gain a few minutes, if that. But I guess their small ego gets a boost from cutting someone off.


Unless it’s a traffic jam, in which case the zipper merge takes over, and alternating cars are to have the right of way.

And I’ll also say that if you’re in a long line of cars that’s tailgating each other, you’re part of the problem. If you weren’t breaking the law and tailgating the guy in front of you, people could merge in front of you.


Zipper merge works fine - EXCEPT IN BOSTON. It’s a “I want to be first” attitude among a large portion of the driving population. The second cars start to zipper in…there will be a line of cars passing them to merge in in front of the merge. and this pattern continues over and over again. I was out in Indiana in Business a couple months ago and there was a traffic jam near the airport. It was pleasant to see zipper merge work properly. The following week and back to the Boston chaos driving.


While that is true, the other side of the coin is that drivers in the right lane who want to avoid risk from merging vehicles will execute a “complimentary lane change”, and will move over to the center lane when approaching an interchange where there are cars on the entry ramp. Yes, it is sometimes impossible to execute a complimentary lane change safely, but when it is feasible to do so, it is better–and safer–for everyone on the highway.


And if the OP cuts someone off, causing them to hit the OP’s car in the rear, I would wish OP luck with the “you hit me in the back it’s your fault” argument.


Oh, yes it is. It is everyone’s job to make sure that others can merge on or off the highway. What’s the OP going to do? Stop at the end of the entrance ramp and wait for someone to let him in? That would be unsafe, trying to merge immediately from a stop.


100% true. I know highways in MA and NH that if you could legally block anyone from merging onto highway - trust me they would. Each ramp would be lined with cars waiting to merge onto highway for a long time.


That is precisely why I execute complimentary lane changes whenever it is safe to do so. And, if it isn’t safe for me to move over to the center lane, then I allow people to merge in front of me, into the flow of expressway traffic.


Maybe we should revisit what those yield and merge signs mean at the entrance ramps? I speed up/slow down to be able to merge into traffic without affecting those on the freeway. On rare occasions I have to stop at the end of the ramp if traffic is too heavy but then when the opportunity presents itself, hit the gas and merge. Of course you anticipate a little if you are going to have a problem so leave a little bit of the acceleration lane if you can. Maybe I’m doing it wrong or maybe the rules in 1964 Driver’s Training don’t apply anymore to modern society.


My car can easily reach 70+ mph by the end of an entrance ramp, and by accelerating strongly when necessary, I don’t impede anyone who is driving in the righthand lane.


Those are quite rare here. The state encourages responsible driving by everyone by not posting yield signs at every merge. When two lanes merge together into one, the signs often tell the drivers to let the other guy go first if he is a bit in front of you. Maybe your state should revisit the way the handle merges. We don’t have problems, and I bet MN wouldn’t have problems either.


This comes up here on occasion and I think one point of confusion is that it can be different depending on where you live. Last time someone showed a picture of an entrance ramp with both lanes merging into one. Around here, the entrance ramp is clearly marked as merging into the through traffic lane and the yield signs reflect that the onus is on the entering traffic to yield to through traffic. The biggest issue is that many people appear to be “merge challenged”…


Naw, this is Minnesota nice. This is the state that if you lose your billfold at the state fair, it’ll be turned in to lost and found with all the money intact. I’d have to look a little for the proper citation though.