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Re: driving laws/styles RE: [T3] HELP

On 25 Mar 2004 at 19:49, Greg Merritt wrote:

> Most of the 5 or 6 lane (each direction) freeways in these parts spend many
> hours per day at or near capacity.  So, when they're not congested, traffic
> is PACKED and FAST.  Motorists MUST drive and stay in the left lane just to
> support the sheer volume of automobiles.  If they didn't, the onset of
> congestion would happen much sooner and there would be a near-empty lane on
> the left. ;) 

This is clear, but if drivers would sort themselves according to how fast they 
wanted to drive, with slower drivers on the right and faster drivers on the 
left, then this would significantly increase the carrying capacity of the 

My rule of thumb is that if the lane ahead of me is clear and my rear view 
mirror is filled with cars, then I need to move to the right. If everyone did 
the same, then EVERYONE could be happier. I suspect, however, that part of the 
problem is that few people ever notice anything that's happening in their rear 
view mirror.

The problem arises when some people choose a default lane for which there is 
really no defense other than, "This is the lane I want to drive in." Slow 
vehicles permanently parked in the left lane cause huge problems. Not only do 
they slow down everyone around them, they also cause safety problems by 
creating crowding and cause impatient drivers to take chances that they 
shouldn't have.

I used to work with a guy who ALWAYS choose the far left lane to drive in. His 
excuse was, "Those other lanes don't move fast enough for me." I've heard him 
say this when he was the only car on the road and also while he was being 
passed on the right by other cars. It only made sense in his own mind.

I have to admit that one of my little perverse pleasures while driving, 
especially in my 35 year old squareback, is to overtake a string of cars all 
backed up behind a single slow car in the left lane. I LOVE it when I can pass 
ALL of them on the right and just leave them still packed up there. As I pass, 
I wonder if it has occurred to any of them that there's something wrong with 
this picture. More often, however, once I start approaching this group, one or 
more will notice me coming up and then move to the right lane so that they can 
pass ahead of me. I don't mind that they did this, but I can't help wondering 
why they couldn't think of it on their own.   

I guess it still comes down to a question of how many brain cells you've 
dedicated to the driving task. Steve Ayres has made a very important point here 
many times that he LIKES to drive, and that he sees it as a skill that requires 
his attention. I feel the same way, but I think it's clear that many people 
don't. The car, and the brain, are both set on cruise control and most of the 
thinking is diverted to "more pressing" issues.  

And then they wonder why those OTHER people did those things that caused them 
to get in those accidents....  

> The freeway simulation folks at work note that California defaults to
> building onramps that are considerably longer than those in other states;
> gives you loads more time & space to get up to speed and find your merge
> spot.  So, some of the variation in driving behavior must certainly be
> related to variations in freeway/highway construction standards in different
> regions. 

Freeway simulation must be an extremely interesting field, but I'm afraid that 
it would drive me absolutely nuts to have to spend every day trying to 
understand more ways in which drivers could be more stupid. The behavior I'm 
thinking about really isn't confined to near interchanges, but more about just 
how people drive on the open road. I agree that interchanges make everything 
more complicated, and you NEED longer onramps as the amount of traffic 

I've been trapped behind cars driving 55 in the left lane, who would then 
tailgate me at 70 once I managed to get around them.

I once spent TWO HOURS trapped behind two cars traveling together in the left 
lane. There was enough slightly slower traffic in the right lane that it was 
hard to get around on the right, and the rear car of the pair would speed up if 
I tried to pass on the right, to keep me from getting in between them. The only 
way I could get around was to pass both of them in one jump, which was 
impossible in that traffic. I finally got around them when the freeway opened 
up to 5 lanes and I could get all the way to the right and pass everyone.

Sorry for the rant....

Jim Adney
Madison, WI 53711-3054

List info at http://www.vwtype3.org/list | mailto:gregm@vwtype3.org

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