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In Russian, a driver whose driving style includes changing lanes often, squeezing into any small hole, may be called шашист ("checkers player") or вышивальщик ("embroiderer"), because of fast diagonal moves they're making on the road.

Is there a similar word or short phrase in English (slang is OK)?

I'm not searching for a word to describe aggressive driving style in general (like speeding, tailgating etc.), but rather for this specific behavior.

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@FumbleFingers: please post it as an answer, seems to be it. –  Quassnoi Sep 7 '12 at 12:26
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"Reckless" is what comes to mind. That's what the cop in NYC called me when I got my first traffic ticket for lane-hopping in 1965. –  user21497 Sep 7 '12 at 13:32
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"Checkers player" is hilarious and I am going to use that from now on. –  Mark Beadles Sep 7 '12 at 15:02
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I think "asshole" is probably the most-used term here in the states. –  Erick Robertson Sep 7 '12 at 17:37
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@MarkBeadles: Indeed. Both "checkers player" and "embroiderer" are about equally vitriolic epithets to hurl at someone who cuts you off on the road, but "checkers player" is much easier to enunciate clearly in English. –  John Y Sep 7 '12 at 21:06
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6 Answers 6

up vote 16 down vote accepted

In the United States, this practice is called weaving (sometimes "weaving in and out"). Here is some text from the overview to a Georgia Tech study on the practice:

The effects of weaving are some of the least understood aspects of traffic flow. Along the I-85 corridor, weaving regularly occurs between the HOV (or HOT) lane and general purpose lanes, and between interchanges. Because vehicles typically accelerate/decelerate when weaving, the capacity of a freeway network is reduced. Not only does weaving impact effecive capacity, it affects the safety of motorists. Due to safety concerns, attention will be given to weaving zones where there is a high speed differential between weaving lanes. It is important to note that illegal weaving along managed lanes also has the potential to affect safety and capacity.

Now, it seems logical that a person who engages in this activity should be called a weaver, but it is doubtful that this meaning would be understood without explicitly introducing the topic of traffic weaving.

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We in the UK also speak of weaving - in and out, or more often just through traffic. But even if the context was obvious, I can't imagine referring to the driver (or car) as a weaver. –  FumbleFingers Sep 7 '12 at 19:36
    
If someone said that, I'd probably know what they were talking about. However, in my experience "weaving" is not a term for this activity, just a word that can be used to describe it. –  T.E.D. Sep 8 '12 at 19:02
    
In my experience, "weaving" is indeed a term for this activity. But Robusto is correct; the people doing it aren't usually called "weavers"; a more usual term would be "weaving bastards" (feel free to substitute your favorite expletive for bastard). –  Peter Shor Apr 10 at 15:42
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In the UK they may be called lane-hoppers. That link is actually a newspaper punning on the fact that a driver narrowly missed colliding with a kangaroo on a (South Wales!) motorway, but here's a more straightforward usage.

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In that article they only use "lane-hopping" to describe the kangaroo (using a pun) and not the driver. More importantly, this behaviour is almost never seen in the UK because you can only overtake on the right. –  DisgruntledGoat Sep 8 '12 at 11:38
    
@DisgruntledGoat: Thanks for pointing that out (I just picked an example without reading it). But I don't see why you'd think the UK driving on the left makes any difference to prevalence. It's annoyingly common behaviour in traffic jams, but maybe a bit less common on the motorways than in some other countries. Most foreigners I've met tell me we drive a lot faster on our motorways than wherever they come from. Natural selection is likely to get rid of people who persistently lane-hop at 100mph before they pass their defective genes on to the next generation! :) –  FumbleFingers Sep 8 '12 at 12:40
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While the practice is called weaving, the practitioners are not weavers. They are sometimes called zigzaggers.

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The act of doing that I usually hear referred to as "playing Pole Position". This is a reference to an old 80's arcade racing game, where the gameplay basically boiled down to accelerating the whole game and trying to weave around the other vehicles (without hitting any) as you advance past them in the race.

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...then again, AFIK this may be a term only used by people of my generation. –  T.E.D. Sep 7 '12 at 16:23
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I've never heard the term, but I remember the game rather well. –  J.R. Sep 7 '12 at 16:27
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If he's doing it because he's drunk, he's called a "Harvey Wallbanger". (I don't know a term for a person who does this when he's sober.)

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This doesn't answer the question, as "when someone is drunk" invalidates the scope they're asking after. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 7 '12 at 17:09
    
@SevenSidedDie Well, I don't want to argue about it, but may I point out that the question did not specify that he is speaking of only sober drivers, so I gave this as a partial or possible answer. –  Jay Sep 10 '12 at 14:06
    
I appreciate not wanting to get into an argument. For satisfying curiosity only then, here's how I unpack my impression that there's a mismatch: The context provided fairly strongly says "habitually aggressive driver", so side-by-side with the question, the answer just seems off. –  SevenSidedDie Sep 10 '12 at 16:34
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AAA used to have a term for it back in the 70's; it was called zordlocking

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That's an interesting suggestion, but I'm not finding any support for it - searching for "zordlock" returns WoW player profiles, mostly. Do you have any articles or links to back up your assertion? –  Marthaª Apr 10 at 15:53
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