Fast Lane, from Nigel Davies

August 14, 2006 |

I have been doing a lot of driving this last week and noticed some interesting things when there are delays and frustration sets in:More people try to get in the ‘fast’ lane, with the result that it becomes the slower one.

The distance between vehicles closes considerably as drivers try to get those extra few metres closer to their destination.

Scott Brooks adds:

I hate rush hour traffic. Back when I used to have to drive in it (early to mid 1980s and based on a 4 lane per side highway), I decided that I wanted to find a way to minimize my time in it. I started keeping track of certain things and came to a few conclusions which I will list here, strictly from memory. Here is what I observed.

  1. The fast lane was not the fastest lane to be in. However, contrary to Nigel’s statement, it was also not the slowest. I agree with Nigel’s statement that this is the lane that people were trying to get to, and thus, it became overcrowded and bogged down
  2. The furthest right lane (for those of us that drive on the right side of the road) was the slowest lane. I concluded what still seems obvious to me, that this was due to the entry and exit nature of this lane. So get out of the right lane as soon as possible.
  3. If there was a left entry or exit, the left lane would slow down. So fade to the middle lanes when this would happen.
  4. The fastest lane to be in, if all things were equal, was the second lane from the left (the lane just to the right of the far left lane). Get in this lane and stick with it. Don’t be suckered out of it, unless it is obvious something is going on up ahead (i.e. an accident blocking this lane.)
  5. Being aggressive helped in getting the trip started. In the early ’80s, I was working summer jobs and my co-workers were a bunch of blue collar white trash redneck ruffians. When work got out, rather than wait in line with everyone else to get on the highway, they would drive to the front of the line and cut some unsuspecting and/or timid person off to get onto the highway.
  6. Timing was everything. A couple of minutes made a HUGE difference in the traffic. Beating all the other people, who also got off at 4:30, to the entry ramp literraly meant 5 - 10 minutes on the commute home. Do not dawdle after work.
  7. Because of this it became important to pick a good parking space to ensure a quick exit. Therefore, even if I was one of the first people to arrive at work, I would still forego one the supposedly “primo” spots by the front door (primo in that you didn’t have walk very far) and park right next to the exit from the parking lot (one must take into consideration the shape, size, and distance from the building of your parking space to ensure the quickest exit. It may not always be that space nearest the exit, as it was in my case).
  8. Small cars had a disadvantage. Back then SUV’s and mini-vans played little or no role in the traffic process, but the guys with trucks got around a lot better and could nose into traffic with authority.
  9. Listen to the traffic report and adjust accordingly. However, keep in mind that traffic reports can be dated
  10. Therefore, when hearing a traffic report, note how accurate it really is. If they say, “south bound 270 is backed up between 40 and Dougherty Ferry due to an accident” but when you traverse 270 south for that stretch and see no accident, the report your probably listening to is not very accurate, or is getting second hand info. Find a station with accurate, up to date, timely reports. Just because it sounds like the guy is in a traffic copter, doesn’t mean that he really is
  11. Know your alternate routes so that you can deviate your travel route if necessary (sorry, there was no such thing as an in car talking GPS back then.)
  12. Drive a truck with 4 wheel drive. I cannot tell you how many times, back then, I got stuck in traffic and wished I had a vehicle that could drive over the median and go the other way for a mile or two to catch an alternate route. So today, I drive an SUV with 4 wheel drive. And even though I avoid rush hour 95% of the time, I do get caught in a traffic jam once in a while. I have driven through muddy medians, over shoulders, over concrete medians and other such obstructions to re-route myself to a speedier alternate route.
  13. There should be a law that says if you are caught rubber necking that you lose your license for a year and have to write a personal letter of apology to every licensed driver in the state.

In conclusion:

  1. Do not be in a hurry. Smile at the person who almost hits you. Wave the guy over who wants in. Wave thank you to the person that lets you in. Be quick to wave an apology to the person you almost hit. If someone is mad at you and cursing you verbally or with sign language, just smile and mouth “I’m sorry”, and wave…they will usually calm down.
  2. Do not be like my uncle who is like a play by play commentator, negatively deriding everyone else’s poor driving habits.
  3. Smile. Turn on some good music, whether Van Halen, Mettalica, Neil Diamond, Mozart, or Garth Brooks, and enjoy the ride.


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