Studies in Highway Traffic….

One of the things that I like about the summer is how I am reunited with my car, and therefore able to drive around… However, people who don’t drive intelligently annoy me. This is some educational material to share to those annoying drivers out there…

Highway Etiquette 101

Today’s lecture is on why there are three lanes in a three lane highway and the proper way to use them.

As the automobile began to gain popularity through the early half of the twentieth century, so did the need for bigger, and better roads on which to drive them. This was the birth of the paved roads. After World War II, the movement of the population out to the suburbs lead to the development of longer roads, and Highways. As rush hour traffic grew, so did the need for more lanes, hence the three lane highway.

The three lane highway was designed with a specific strategy, as is described by the graphic below:

Ideal Three Lane Highway

The green blobs represent speed. Note that the speed of the cars on the right is less than those than the middle, and that the middle is less than the far left.

In this setup, the traffic flows well because the slower cars can easily be passed. The passing car goes back to the right when there is no traffic as the only car on the road is the slowest. The third lane is for when a slow car is passing a slower car, or there is oncoming traffic.

Although this is the ideal, most places do not follow this strategy. We will now explore two other systems of highway traffic on three lane highways.

One example is Ohio:

Ohio's Three Lane Highway

In Ohio, the slowest lane is in the middle, followed by the right lane and the fastest being the left lane. Following the “stay to the right” strategy common of the ideal system, a fast driver must change two lanes to pass slower vehicles as the right two lanes are both slow. This is a very frustrating process, especially during rush hour.

An even more ineffective system is in Oregon:

Oregno's Three Lane Highway

In Oregon, all of the traffic is slower, especially in the left lane. This effectively makes the road a two lane, as the left lane has some of the slowest traffic, which eliminates passing in that lane.

Following the etiquette of the road is an important part of not pissing people off. Just remember the golden rule:

  • Stay to the right, unless passing

Thanks,

Kyle

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