So since April I have been commuting over to West Seattle. It's not packed traffic (most of the time), but I have learned a few tricks to getting to my destination faster. This only applies for the freeway (I suppose you could attempt them on street roads but it would be pretty silly).
1. Pick a memorable car to beat. I find that if I choose the large plumbing truck or the green pimped out Cadillac it becomes not an ugly commute but a fun game. My mission: to pass memorable vehicle
2. There is such a thing as commuting karma. At first it was all about me, I would never let anyone in my lane. But usually if you let people in your lane, other cars notice your how nice you are and then when you need to get over I imagine them thinking "she let that one car in, I should let her in my lane"
3. The 5 second rule. If someone does not let you into their lane follow this rule. Turn on your blinker. Count to five and start moving over. They will HAVE to stop for you.
4. There is no one good lane. Each day I would assess which was the fast lane and every day it changes. Because there isn't one. Yes an accident might change that fact, but normally it depends upon which grandma is in what lane and you can't really tell that until you pass her.
5. Patience. Eventually your lane will probably pass the one you just got out of. But then it will pass you. So don't get to mad at the fact. Most of the time I found that endurance is the best policy.
Oh and the pile....