When roads clog up with vehicles, as they did when three car accidents occurred on Interstate 40 one day in late December, drivers are often tempted to escape the stalled chaos in untraditional ways.

But the Tennessee Highway Patrol is warning drivers against using emergency lanes or medians to merely cut out of a parking lot-esque scenario. Patience is a virtue, officers say. Staying calm can save your life, not to mention help you avoid fines or citations.

A sergeant with the Tennessee Highway Patrol says the post-Christmas accidents may have been fueled by puffed-up holiday traffic. But crossing a median or driving on the shoulder can be dangerous. Drivers who use such escape routes could face stiff penalties.

The officer also says that drivers often ignore signs to merge and wait until the absolute last moment to do so. But, he tells WBIR, “It doesn’t tell you to merge when at the end of the road. You’re supposed to merge when you see those signs.”

Waiting until the very last minute to merge could earn a driver a reckless driving citation.

Using an emergency lane to get around traffic can be particularly dangerous, he says, because ditches often have a deeper drop-off than drivers realize. And while backing up isn’t itself illegal, it is once a driver interferes with traffic.

The bottom line? It’s better to bore yourself by waiting it out than put your life at risk with an impulsive escape.

Source: WBIR, “Tennessee Highway Patrol warns using emergency lanes, medians to avoid traffic jams will cost drivers money and points on license,” Steve Butera, Dec. 27, 2011