The BBC has ten useful driving tips to make your commute more pleasant.
Here are the tips.
1. Don’t misread the horn
2. Don’t change lanes in slow-moving traffic
3. Make eye contact when you can
4. Limit your commute to a quarter of an hour
5. Remember, you don’t own that parking space
6. Driving is a mental workout
7. Late merging is ok
8. Tailgating slows us all down
9. Treat all cyclists the same, helmet or no helmet
10. Learn from Lewis
I dispute the “late merging is OK” claim.
Merging late slows everybody down, and the only one that benefits is the self-serving jerk who cuts in at the end.
Generally speaking road crews will have signs at least half a mile away warning of lane merges. At that distance, everybody is traveling at the same speed and at, what should be, safe distances. It’s easy to merge at that point, and traffic only needs to slow slightly to reacquire a safe following distance.
When you wait until the last minute you are intruding into an already slowed traffic flow. Speeds are slower and following distances are shorter, so the net affect of jamming your car into the lane is much greater.
The comments about late merging in that article were obviously given by a late-merger. ;)
@mckay: I agree, and the comments at lifehacker brought up the same point. I’m not a fan of late merging and have been known to sidle on over to the middle of the two lanes, keeping people from passing me. I’m sure to follow tip #1 too :)
There’s a great discussion about the fluidity of traffic by William Beaty, an electrical engineer.
A traffic expert who was promoting a book and was on TV in Boston over the summer also said that merging later is better, as you use the two lanes as long as possible. Why would merging earlier be better? By that principle, would the best thing be to merge when you first come on the highway? Just logically/scientifically, to use as much space as is available seems better than cutting down to less space earlier, no? I understand the social pressure to merge when the sign is visible, but it would be an interesting study to see how it would all work if they placed signs 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 miles before they actual lane blockage — which would be fastest/best, and which most socially acceptable to fellow drivers? …
It depends on the amount of traffic. If the lanes are really full I can see how using the lane until the last possible moment would help because it provides more lanes to handle the traffic. However, I’ve seen many times where the merge lane slows to a crawl because people want to beat other cars, only to force the cars to slam on the brakes to let them in at the merging point. If they had merged earlier at full speed, there wouldn’t have been a slowdown.
If the lanes aren’t really full, then there isn’t very much traffic, and it’s not so much of an issue, no?
It’s bad because it’s an artificial choke point. Despite what the ‘experts’ are claiming, traffic just doesn’t work like a zipper. You can’t just go every-other-car and expect the merge to happen smoothly. If we all had robot drivers capable of merging without a) causing unnecessary braking or b) braking unnecessarily, then maybe it would, but that’s nothing close to real life.
As mckay points out, even when lanes aren’t too full, merging slows traffic down considerably when people wait until the last minute, making it an issue.
Its not always possible to limit your driving time.
The tips make a lot of sense. I like the one on driving being a mental workout. You never rush your physical workout, so why should you rush your driving?
A quarter of an hour? They’re kidding, right? My commute is usually an hour, minimum. Is traffic really that much better in the UK?
@Meredith I’ve heard DC has some of the worst commutes around. My commute tends to be 15-20 minutes. I had one that was a solid 35 minutes, often 45 with traffic. It’s a great way to get through audio books :)