Watch That Merge Part 3: Don’t Cross That Line

You are off to work!  You are speeding down the freeway, likely 5 miles an hour or more over the speed limit.  You are nearing an entrance ramp and other cars are heading on to the highway and going to merge into your lane.  You approach a bit more tentatively, and maybe you take your foot off the gas a little.  Or, you may even speed up to get ahead of them as they prepare to merge.


Watch That Merge Part 2 – Please Don’t Pretend You Do Not See Me

Then, one of the oncoming cars does something unexpected!  The driver of the car crosses the solid white line and jerks right in front of you.  You have to hit the brakes!  Frustration wells up inside you and you feel the urge to pound the steering wheel, but instead, you throw your arms in the air!  Exasperated, you shout, “What are you thinking!”

What did the entering driver do?  What is so bad about getting into the forward-moving lane of traffic as soon as possible?  Is it wrong to cross that solid white line?  It may not seem so at times, but it is.

First of all, let’s get clear on what the lines mean.  Did you know it is against the law to cross a solid line?  A solid line of any color is not to be crossed.  Dashed lines of any color can be crossed. Yellow lines separate traffic going in opposite directions.  A solid yellow line indicates crossing is not permitted.  A dashed yellow line can be crossed provided oncoming traffic is clear (i.e., for passing on a two-lane highway). White lines separate traffic that is moving in the same direction.  A solid white line means crossing is not permitted.  A dashed white line can be crossed provided the lane is clear.

So, why do so many people cross solid white lines?  To be generous, I think many simply do not know it is against the law to cross solid white lines. We will give them a free pass.  The rest are likely impatient, in a hurry, rushing, not paying attention or crossing for some other reason.

Frankly speaking, crossing the solid white lane is not safe.  Traffic engineers and other transportation experts have planned these lines to create optimal safety for all.  They consider things like travel speed, visibility, road conditions, road curvature, and more.  Then, the lines are painted to reflect what is most likely to provide safety and optimal travel for all.

To cross the lines on the road is simply not a safe thing to do!

Many of us are speeding down the roads of life crossing lines as well.  Recent stories in the media have captured parents cheating or lying to get their children into a prestigious university.  Every day we hear of some celebrity, politician, or other so-called important person being unfaithful, telling lies, or secretly engaging in some illicit activity.  It is sad how not a day passes without some story of people crossing the lines.

I am not sure if this has always been the case–that people will cross lines to get what they want right now, but it sure seems like the problem is escalating.  It seems like more and more people are racing across lines that were never meant to be crossed and it is not without consequence.

We cannot speed through life crossing lines of honesty, maturity, authenticity, commitment, and loyalty without causing significant harm.

The answer is integrity.  The answer is found in this definition I use as  a Daring Way Facilitator to work with people to be true to themselves and regain a sense of peace and confidence: “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort.  Integrity is choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy.  Integrity is actually practicing your values and not just professing them.”

It can be so very easy to cross one little white line!  What is the harm in that?  Heck, some people are crossing solid yellow lines and it does not seem to hurt them.  We can even be tempted to follow them across the lines.  Maybe we get away with it for a while.  Maybe it does not seem to cause any harm. However, I am convicted that every time we cross a line, we weaken ourselves and risk harm to others.  Every little breach of integrity weakens the character and makes it easier the next time.  There will surely be a crash–and in my experience–that crash always comes at the worst possible time.  It is no small thing to cross the lines.

So, as you head down the roads of life today, please pay attention to the solid and dashed lines.  Make a pledge to not cross those solid ones.  Stay in your lane until it is clear–by the lines and the traffic–to merge over. Also, as you make each of the choices you face today–large and small–don’t cross the lines.  Be honest!  Be loyal!  Do what you said you would do!  Honor your commitments!  Be true to your word!  Be true to your heart!  Show integrity!

It may seem like I am missing an opportunity to cross the line and slide into moving traffic, but I am capturing the opportunity to live with more integrity!  That brings lasting peace to my journey and to my life.  It is just a safer, happier, and better way to go!


Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R Jacobs is a brave creator who strives to do mighty things! Jim is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator helping others to live more brave and authentic lives! He is the author of Driving Lessons For Life: Thoughts on Navigating Your Road to Personal Growth. Jim speaks professionally, and coaches others to success and living with integrity. He is a counselor, educator, innovator, father, and friend. Please check out Jim R. Jacobs and Driving Lessons For Life and find Jim on social media! Let's connect and dare mighty things!

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  1. Jim, I commend you on the subject matter and your objective in this article. Integrity is becoming a word that is just a word but has no meaning. However, your points about integrity were right on the mark. My hope is that people will pay attention and follow what you wrote. This is in my estimation very disturbing. As far as crossing lines is concerned that too has become rampant. Your plea (for lack of a better word) for people to be honest and loyal is just terrific. This was a great article to read on all fronts. Thank you, Jim, for writing an article such as this one that had such great importance to it.

    • Thank you Joel! It can be sad to see that integrity is dying! I want to do all I can to hold on to it for myself and teach it to others! Thank you so much for your generous comments!

    • All thanks go to you Jim for what you are trying to do. Somebody like you is desperately needed in Washington where the can’t spell the word much less knowing what it means.

  2. “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort”…that says it all for me. It may take a little bit more effort but it builds character for all the road ahead that inevitable is going to throw our way, curves, bridges, potholes, and even the gift once in awhile of a nice paved straight roadway. I am with you Jim in trying my best. Your series has been really beneficial to explore with you.

    • Thank you Maureen! Courage over comfort! I love my motto “It is better to dare mighty things!” When I do it with integrity it is powerful!!

  3. Thank you, Jim, for this powerful reminder to live true to our values, to demonstrate integrity as this takes great self-awareness. I notice that a mindful scan through our being of thoughts, words, deeds looking for alignment with what each of us values deeply can be incredibly useful. This can be a painful process when we realize we’ve been driving with a bunch of blind spots (things we didn’t know/didn’t know or didn’t want to look at squarely in the face). To step up to take full responsibility for our past miscues, ignorance, or lack of awareness of the impact we actually had on other people takes great courage. And when we know better, we do better (Maya Angelou) When there’s a shift from “I am a jerk.” to “In the past, I have done jerky things.” creates an inside to outside chance of course correction-of driving between the white lines-of doing beautiful, loving, caring, generous deeds. The best apology is changed behavior. Sometimes people don’t know that they aren’t jerks who still do amazing deeds. Some people don’t know, don’t know that they do jerky behavior and they don’t want to know… They think they’re wonderful, bold, brave people, yet they drive blind to the “dead bodies” strewn all around them from their unconscionable deeds…

  4. Life as we live it is a reflection of who we are. The lines we cross may be easy or habitual but we can change and choose to do the right thing. The problem here is what we accept as good values. Each will be different based on person. The moral compass has prove to be quite dimensional. Thus fairness and truth are sometimes enemies to those with other beliefs.

    • Thank you for reading Donna-Luisa! Well spoken! I love your comment here about how we live being a reflection of who we are! Nice!

  5. Amazing series, Jim! I saw Dennis’ note about Part 3, and figured I’d read 1 and 2 first, and I’m so glad I did!

    I learned long ago — loooooooooong ago — about integrity, absorbing lessons from my dad who showed my brother and me how to act, how to be — he never told us. Powerful stuff when you see it in action consistently for so many years.

    I do my darnedest every day to live up to his examples, and thanks for another excellent article!