Whatever happened to the good old rule of accelerating when entering the freeway and decelerating when exiting? This is a question that was brought up in a recent defensive driving class. Well, there are a few factors that contribute to these problems. First of all, the highway entrance and exit ramps are generally too short. In fact, there are dangerously short ramps in my city. Another problem is that people are driving in the left passing lane under the speed limit or, at least not with the flow of traffic. This encourages those who wish to pass to go around them on the right, in the slow lane. Unfortunately, that is the same lane that you need to speed up to (or accelerate to) in order to merge in with the flow of traffic. This is close to impossible to do on a super short interstate entrance ramp unless you have a crotch rocket motorcycle or a really fast car with a V8 engine. So, your only option is to get a good running start on the access road, and therein lies your problem. You are not to exceed the speed limit on the access road UNTIL you enter that launching pad of a ramp. If you’re entering a freeway that is only two lanes going your direction, you may also encounter a menacing truck in your slow lane since they are not allowed to drive in the passing lane, unless they’re actually passing. Merging into a semi is quite unpleasant, I’ve been told. And with road construction, many tollways and freeways in my city are down to two lanes.
A short exit ramp is equally as dangerous since people tend to tailgate when you’re exiting and people on the access road, who are supposed to yield to the ramp, do not yield.
There is much heavier traffic now, as well. There are very few people in my city that carpool. In fact, most of our H.O.V. (high occupancy vehicle) lanes have changed to “Express Lanes.” Everyone is in a crazy rush, trying to catch up on the time they lost in traffic and stuck in road construction. Engineers must have quite a time keeping up with changes to support traffic needs. So, where they are widening the freeways and tollways here, they are lengthening the ramps. It’s the beginning of the solution. We will see how it plays out and how it affects the reduction of crashes and fatalities in 2017.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Dangerously Short Ramps – Comedy Defensive Driving