Maryland & Virginia Traffic Cutters Cause Accidents

Portner & Shure Law Firm Serving Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C.


We have all done it before, we see other drivers do it all the time as well, and it frustrates everyone who is stuck sitting in traffic. Some refer to the move as “dive-bombing” because a driver will get in an exit only lane or on the shoulder and then cut back over to get ahead of the traffic. Cars will “dive” in and out of traffic in an aggressive, and often illegal, manner. If a driver takes the exit only lane all the way to the end and cuts back over across double white lines, it is illegal and the driver can be ticketed. The biggest issue with this maneuver is the safety implication. When cars are “pulling out of heavy traffic, speeding up, and then cutting back into the lane,” the risk of an accident increases substantially. Stop and go traffic is already dangerous enough with sudden stops and starts, but when drivers are suddenly cutting over from exit lanes or shoulders, an accident is almost guaranteed to occur. This dangerous maneuver also creates a problem for those drivers who are actually trying to exit, but the car in front of them is blocking the lane because they tried to sneak ahead of the traffic and cannot back over.

Commuters in Maryland and Virginia have voiced their disapproval and anger over these moves, saying it is “unsafe and unfair.” However, there are some who are defending the maneuver as a “good move because drivers are spreading out and using all available asphalt. Traffic engineers argue that it is effective for drivers to use all parts of the roadway in terms of alleviating traffic. As a result, highway officials are allowing drivers onto the shoulders during peak travel times to “expand” the highway without physically making any changes to the road. For example, Maryland started opening up the shoulders on route 29 to bus traffic at peak travel periods, and Virginia did the same move on I-66 inside the Capital Beltway. Green arrows will illuminate over the shoulders when it is legal to drive on them. The use of shoulders on the inner loop of I-66 will be coming later this spring. In addition, areas of I-95 in Maryland and I-66 in Virginia are increasing the length of merge lanes to help with traffic, but as a result, these lanes will have a more drastic cut off for drivers to get over.

While there will always be drivers throughout Maryland and Virginia that use this maneuver to get ahead in heavy traffic, other drivers should be reminded to be extra cautious when driving in traffic. Not only do drivers need to watch for sudden stops by cars ahead of them, they also need to be on the lookout for cars to their left and right who might look like they are exiting, but will suddenly cut in front of them.

If you or a family member has been injured or killed in an accident caused by a traffic cutter in Maryland and would like to consult an experienced personal injury attorney for free, contact us at (301) 854-9000 to schedule an appointment at one of our office locations throughout Maryland or visit us online at