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December 19, 2005 6:26 AM   Subscribe

How motorways work (slightly NSFW - ever so slightly - I think it swears a couple o times). Why we hate UK motorway users hate using our motorways. See also Middle Lane Morons.
posted by 13twelve (50 comments total)

 
Wasn't ramming middle lane hoggers off the road legalised a few years ago?
posted by vbfg at 6:43 AM on December 19, 2005


The worst drivers in the world are always in the town where you live. I know they're in mine. Present company excluded, of course.
posted by gimonca at 6:46 AM on December 19, 2005


Being from NJ, I always thought of the left-lane-passing-only idea as a joke. Every lane on the highways there is packed with cars. The left lane sometimes moves faster than the others, but that's about it.
posted by driveler at 6:52 AM on December 19, 2005


"Why we hate UK motorway users hate using our motorways"
eh?
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:53 AM on December 19, 2005


The second worst drivers in the world are always in the town where you live.

The worst drivers in the world are in New Jersey.
posted by psmealey at 6:53 AM on December 19, 2005


Also, is this just a fairly vitriolic but amateur rant site, or have I missed something?
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:54 AM on December 19, 2005


psmealey, come to california and say that...jersey drivers are all agressive, florida drivers are either too old to see or agressive, boston drivers are almost as crazy as thier road system, but california drivers just aren't awake and don't know what "rain" or a speed gradient between lanes are.
posted by NGnerd at 6:59 AM on December 19, 2005


What amazes me is that someone put all this time and effort into complaining about other's driving manners.
posted by c13 at 6:59 AM on December 19, 2005


When I do drive, there is nothing in the world I like better than to strictly observe the speed limit, or even a safe 1mph below. This is especially true on roads without passing lanes. Slower speeds save lives, lessen fuel consumption, and, really, if you wanted to get there before me, you should have left sooner.

Oh, and it also brings to light the ridiculously low speed limits most city and state planners post on their roads. Consider it an act of reverse civil disobediance.

midder laner and proud!
posted by Fezboy! at 7:00 AM on December 19, 2005


The problem is that the copy's decidedly average. Rant sites can very funny. But this one is pretty tepid.
posted by rhymer at 7:01 AM on December 19, 2005


haha my english rocks - I'll think of some excuses shortly.
posted by 13twelve at 7:07 AM on December 19, 2005


midder laner and proud!

Screw you and all that you stand for.
posted by chrismear at 7:08 AM on December 19, 2005


There's zero imagination gone into this site, and it's really badly written. It's just insincere nastiness.
posted by cillit bang at 7:28 AM on December 19, 2005


Just be happy that you have a middle lane. Almost all of the highways that I drive on are only two lanes each way. Usually with trucks in the right lane and old men with hats driving white Oldsmobiles at 45 MPH in the left.
posted by octothorpe at 7:28 AM on December 19, 2005


The worst drivers in the world are in New Jersey.

There are different flavors of "worst," I think. I drove from NJ to the western Philly suburbs. Once I got onto 276 in PA, there were several left-laners doing 65. 65! Come on! If people are passing you on the right, move over!

Pennsylvanians are not as reckless as us, but they are definitely the worst drivers in the nuisance category. They are always slow when in front of you, or on your ass when behind you.
posted by johnjreiser at 7:53 AM on December 19, 2005


He appears to have missed the point entirely. The biggest annoyance on UK motorways are the pricks in the outside lane (the one, perversely, closest to the central reservation) who happily trundle along at 60mph holding up three lanes of traffic, terrified of undertaking them.

Complaining about Xenons and bright brakelights is moronic. Xenons are *far* less glare-inducing than halogen lights and are no-where near as dazzling in incoming traffic.

I take his point with fog-lights though - it drives me bananas when people put their foglights on when it gets dark. That and people who inexplicably brake at nighttime when oncoming traffic (on the opposite side of the road) approaches....that makes me gnaw my steering wheel!
posted by metaxa at 8:10 AM on December 19, 2005


I usually drive a little slower than average on those big multi-lane roads, but always I keep to the appropriate lane except while overtaking, which is the one on the right here. When there's enough traffic to justify it, I speed up when passing slower traffic, so as to spend less time obstructing the inside lane. When there's only one lane in each direction, and someone comes up behind my vehicle, and the road is clear for miles ahead, then I pull over to let them past. I always signal my lane changes and turns. I always try to merge at the correct speed. I do not tailgate people, and I don't get stupid when people do it to me. I always look both ways before driving across an intersection. I don't always follow all the rules, but I do at a minimum try to stay out of everyone else's way as much as possible.

The only detriment to being such a well-behaved driver is that it makes almost everyone else look like a moron by comparison. Please, motorway users of the world, follow my example, so that I no longer have to suffer this terrible burden of knowing that I am better than the rest of you. You middle lane morons in particular really make me question the viability of our species. For the good of the world, I beesech thee; reform thine evil ways.
posted by sfenders at 8:16 AM on December 19, 2005


the outside lane (the one, perversely, closest to the central reservation)

Ah, interesting. I missed that. Seems to be a UK-specific thing. In America that's the inside lane.
posted by sfenders at 8:37 AM on December 19, 2005


I'm ripping on NJ just for the fun of it (l learned to drive there, after all). Most NJ drivers will tell you that they don't pay the highest auto insurance rates in the country as a reward for their skill or courtesy on the road.

Seems to me that the problem in NJ is the toxic combination of overly aggressive driving with absolutely abysmal signage and the non-stop stream of left and right side exit ramps (WAIT... WAS THAT MY EXIT??? F*CK IT,... I'M GOING FOR IT...).

As for other parts of the country, I will say that Boston is the most dangerous place to ride a bike, and Seattle has the most annoying drivers (driving below the speed limit in the passing line on 520, no signaling, and epidemic levels of tailgating). But either place isn't too terrible to drive in. I also don't mind driving in SoCal once I get past the adrenaline rush of making it past the on-ramp to cruising velocity. But NJ is the place where I avoid driving at all cost, NJ drivers are not just aggressive, they're mean.
posted by psmealey at 9:01 AM on December 19, 2005


lessen fuel consumption

Not always true. My car is distinctly more fuel efficient at 70-75 than at 60-65 or 80-85.

One day I'll try and work out that maths of why
posted by twine42 at 9:08 AM on December 19, 2005


Probaby below 70-75 your crusing with other cars. Below that your now and then having to foot down to get past the slower cars and abobe 80 your mpg just falls due to higher revs.
posted by 13twelve at 9:12 AM on December 19, 2005


I live out in the English countryside, and boy am I looking forward to moving back to the city next year, from a driving perspective at any rate. Middle lane hogs on motorways are bad, but vast articulated lorries doing 50 down a road *just* wide enough for two cars are worse, particularly when you're coming the other way.

Not to mention all the Mums in range rovers who straddle the white line so they don't get mud on their tyres.
posted by athenian at 10:17 AM on December 19, 2005


the outside lane (the one, perversely, closest to the central reservation)

Ah, interesting. I missed that. Seems to be a UK-specific thing. In America that's the inside lane.


Logic being, I guess, that everyone joins in the slow lane (and exits) on the outside and moves in as they speed up. So not really that perverse.
posted by edd at 10:29 AM on December 19, 2005


Did anyone else find his writing style a little hackneyed and ineffectual? Half the time I couldn't really get a hold of what he was talking about. Maybe because i'm not a brit? This one especially seemed a little scatterbrained. Kinda like Eddy Izzard, except utterly unsuccessful.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:33 AM on December 19, 2005


Gah, on rereading, I see that we're talking about what's outside and inside. I'll just look sheepish in the corner for a bit.
posted by edd at 10:40 AM on December 19, 2005


US drivers come in different flavors. I learned to drive in NJ (and ride a motorcycle as well), and so am prepared for a stunt-driving career in Hollywood. That said: RI drivers are the scariest I've ever met. They are the only drivers who will actually intentionally pull into your car to get you out of the lane they'd rather be in (I am not exaggerating; I barely made it through Newport alive). They also got the lowest scores on a retest of licensed drivers anywhere in the US. VA and CT drivers are both horrendous fast-lane hogs, no matter what speed they're going (especially in VA, this is usually far below reasonable).

How I long for Germany, where people actually keep to the right, except to pass!
posted by Eideteker at 10:47 AM on December 19, 2005


nothing in the world I like better than to strictly observe the speed limit

Better not try that on the 401
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:02 AM on December 19, 2005


The motorway isn't the same as the interstate. Interstates often run through or over major cities; British motorways run through the gaps between cities. The British motorway system is much more rigorous in how you join and leave, and has far fewer exits. (The Mass. Turnpike comes closest in character.) There are no commercial billboards. Black Box Recorder wrote a song about it (as a kind of anti-Autobahn):

It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions
All you've got to do to stay alive is drive


As long as it's not in the middle lane, you wanker.
posted by holgate at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2005


The good people of Seville have a simple custom which avoids all this nonsense: stay in the middle lane if you can, overtake on either side if you can't. Works like a charm.
posted by apodo at 1:49 PM on December 19, 2005


closest to the central reservation

Now the name of that Beth Orton album finally makes sense...
posted by kindall at 1:59 PM on December 19, 2005


Probaby below 70-75 your crusing with other cars. Below that your now and then having to foot down to get past the slower cars and abobe 80 your mpg just falls due to higher revs.

Nope - tested on an open road (The A1M in the wee small hours) with very little traffic.The difference isn't huge, but it is there. We're talking about the difference between averaging 41 and 39 mpg on a long flat straight road.
posted by twine42 at 2:16 PM on December 19, 2005


The worst drivers in the world are in New Jersey.

Never been to Italy, huh?

Well, maybe they're not so much "bad" as they are really, really, really informal.
posted by furiousthought at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2005


sfenders,

When I do drive, there is nothing in the world I like better than to strictly observe the speed limit, or even a safe 1mph below. This is especially true on roads without passing lanes. Slower speeds save lives, lessen fuel consumption, and, really, if you wanted to get there before me, you should have left sooner.

Passive-aggressive much? There are many here in Connecticut who share your enlightened attitude (as Eideteker pointed out), which is why the roads here are such a mess. Explain how contributing to road rage increases road safety. Explain how causing other drivers to slow down just to reaccelerate to get around you decreases fuel consumption. Your plea for attention is not going to change other drivers' behavior.

And as for other stupid New England driver tricks; in VT they love to pull out onto or across busy roads without leaving much of a gap for approaching cars, especially in slippery conditions. Maybe it's not a big deal if the car you're cutting off is running snow tires, but given the large winter weekend population from NY, NJ and Southern NE it's not a bet I'd stake my life on.

Still, at least the Vermonters know how to handle a car in the snow; it seems the SUVs from New Jersey or Long Island* that pass you doing 85 in a blizzard are always the ones you end up calling assistance for when you drive by them 10 miles later, stopped halfway across the median pointing backwards or flipped over.

*Used to know someone from Long Island who'd ask "What's your favorite lane?" Not that it matters much on the LIE at rush hour -- the locals call it "the world's biggest parking lot."
posted by Opposite George at 5:02 PM on December 19, 2005


Never been to Italy, huh?

Indeed I have. Spent 9 months in Rome for one stretch on an extended project, and have driven to Bologne many times for tradeshows. I didn't discount Italian drivers. For the most part they are fairly well skilled and decently courteous, even if their customs are somewhat different than our. I never ceased to be a amazed at seeing cars on the Autostrada drive pretty much wherever the hell they want, across two lanes, on the shoulder, etc... but as soon as someone wants to pass, the cars, as if by magic, find their lanes and hold to them. When the event is over, they drift back to the former nonchalant ways.

it seems the SUVs from New Jersey or Long Island* that pass you doing 85 in a blizzard are always the ones you end up calling assistance for when you drive by them 10 miles later, stopped halfway across the median pointing backwards or flipped over.

No shit. Nothing against SUVs, but why don't these fuckers know that 4 wheel drive might get you going in the snow, but that high gravity configuration gives you NO advantage whatsoever in terms of maneurverability in the snow? In fact, beyond getting out of the parking lot covered with 18" of snow, you're better off in a Mini than an Escalade, handling-wise.
posted by psmealey at 5:31 PM on December 19, 2005


Passive-aggressive much?

uh.... I hope you meant to address that to the idiot you were quoting, not to me. What I said was more or less the opposite of the offensive part of his comment. I am quite capable of driving very fast, by the way. I no longer do so very often in real life, that urge being usually satisfied instead by the PS2 game known as GT4. But I certainly don't "strictly observe the speed limit" either.
posted by sfenders at 5:39 PM on December 19, 2005


"Slower speeds save lives"

No, they don't. In fact, someone traveling at a speed significantly slower than the surrounding traffic is dangerous, probably more so than someone who's speeding, because speeders don't cause a line of traffic to have to unexpectedly brake.

I have had speeders going 10-20mph faster than me pass me on many occasions, and never felt like I was in danger of being hurt or killed. I have come up on motorists going 20mph slower than everyone else, and was forced to make a snap decision (Slam on my brakes, and maybe the guy behind me hits me? Dive for the left lane and make the guy over *there* brake? Dive to the right and hope nobody's in my blind spot?), and the few times that happened, I was definitely afraid.

Fast speed isn't inherently dangerous, and slow speed isn't inherently safe. What's dangerous is a significant difference in speed -- in either direction.
posted by CrayDrygu at 5:50 PM on December 19, 2005


sfenders,
uh.... I hope you meant to address that to the idiot you were quoting, not to me

Mea Culpa mea culpa mea culpa!!!

Indeed that was the case. In fact your post was my inspiration; the whole "keeping out of everybody else's way" approach you describe seems to be key to getting to one's destination relaxed while burning less gas. And it really doesn't seem that it takes any longer to get to my destination; often I'll find myself in the right lane (I'm in the States) overtaking the folks who don't plan ahead tailgating a slowpoke in the middle or left lane. It's too bad for me that it took so long to discover this (I drove like a prick for a long, long time.)

Fezboy! was the one I meant to call out. For reasons you and I apparently agree on.

I screwed up copying tags and again, I apologize; drop me a line if you're in the 'hood and the drinks are on me (of course, we'll have to find a designated driver...)
posted by Opposite George at 6:10 PM on December 19, 2005


What's dangerous is a significant difference in speed -- in either direction.

That's why driving the speed limit is generally considered a good idea. It will, barring extreme circumstances, give you a little bit of an allowance for reaction time.

If, you found yourself in a situation -- disallowing for something like an accident happening right in front of you -- where you felt like you needed to make a snap decision to save yourself form mortal danger, it's likely that you were going way too fast or weren't paying attention to events unfolding in front of you.
posted by psmealey at 6:18 PM on December 19, 2005


That's why driving the speed limit is generally considered a good idea. It will, barring extreme circumstances, give you a little bit of an allowance for reaction time.


Any driving instructor will tell you driving the speed limit is generally a horrible idea unless you've taken general conditions into account. If it's raining or snowing, it could be a deadly idea. If you're in traffic that's moving above the posted speed limit (which happens when the speed limit's arbitrarily set below a pace most drivers on the road at the time are comfortable with) it could also increase your likelihood of getting hit.

Sure, driving the speed limit will give you more reaction time (assuming you aren't tailgating) -- driving even slower will give you more reaction time. If you don't drive at all you won't have any accidents. Somewhere there is a point of diminishing returns and often, for attentive drivers in dry conditions, that point is above the posted speed limit.

Yes, problems arise when you overdrive your ability to react. But if you go below that point of diminishing returns you increase the hazard because, sadly, most of the drivers out there probably aren't as attentive as you and you're increasing the likelihood of you getting rear-ended.

I used to commute on a road whose average traffic speed in the morning was in the 70 to 80 mph range (posted 55). Drivers were generally well-behaved and except for a few left-lane jackasses tended to give each other plenty of room. You tell me if the presence of somebody driving 55 or slower under those conditions would increase or decrease the likelihood of accidents and throughput (and no, unless you drive with your flashers on all the time they aren't allowed to either.)
posted by Opposite George at 6:39 PM on December 19, 2005


"The worst drivers in the world are in New Jersey."

psmealey, I'm with NGnerd, the worst drivers are in Los Angeles and Orange Counties here in CA. I'm from NJ, I'll give that NJ drivers are aggressive, that's definitely true, but until I moved here I thought the worst drivers were in Massachusetts. Hoo boy, was I wrong.

Drivers here in LA are utterly clueless, for the most part - "red lighters" and "sheep" on the FPP site covers them nicely.

"That's why driving the speed limit is generally considered a good idea. It will, barring extreme circumstances, give you a little bit of an allowance for reaction time."

That's true, but to reiterate and reinforce CrayDrygu's point, if you're doing 65, and everyone else is doing 85-90, which is rather common in the USA, you are introducing the most danger to the equation, especially if you're in any lane but the far-right (or for Brits, the far-left "inside" lane). While yes it's true that the speeders are breaking the law and detracting from road safety, by stubbornly maintaining the speed limit you are making yourself a target and potential cause for accident, as someone who's not paying attention comes up behind you at plus-25 mph, and either rear-ends you, slams on the brakes and loses control, or tries to swerve around you and cuts off or hits traffic in the next lane.

You may hate to speed, but I'd advise you to get up to the speed of traffic around you, if you like staying alive. The safest situation is everyone driving at close to the same speed, while maintaining proper spacing for that speed.

Most people who drive, anywhere in the world, really suck at that. Hell most people can't maintain a steady speed on flat ground, and drop 25 mph going up any decent hill, while gaining 25 or 30 going down the other side.

I could also go on all day. The utter lack of skill among car drivers in general is appalling to me, and I'm amazed there aren't more accidents than there are.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:40 PM on December 19, 2005


That's true, but to reiterate and reinforce CrayDrygu's point, if you're doing 65, and everyone else is doing 85-90

I'm certainly not one to obstinately keep to the speed limit at the expense of my (or anyone else's saftey), but I thought CrayDrygu's point sounded like a rationalization for speeding so I wanted to make the point. I'm not a big fan of the 'everyone's doing it, so it's ok, school', but I'll admit that keeping pace is the safest thing you can do on the highway.

I had a job in Germany for three years a while back where I did a whole bunch of driving in France, Germany and Italy. By and large, I enjoyed driving in places where people seemed to have a bit more respect for the rules and how to drive around them. I even learned to enjoy driving fast. I would for stretches, do about 115-120 in the far left lane on the autobahn, but it was dead serious, radio turned off, don't talk to me driving. I got the impression that most Germans were the same. In America, I always get a bit edgy by contrast when I see people driving 85mpg and weaving in and out of traffic, because I know they are probably doing about three other things at the same time.

I never drive in California if I don't have to, but some times it's unavoidable, and always unpleasant. Californians are funny. In social conversation, it seems someone would rather lie to your face than tell you anything remotely unpleasant, yet behind the wheel, they'll fucking run you off the road if they suspect that you tried to cut them off.

posted by psmealey at 6:52 PM on December 19, 2005


oops... sorry about not closing the itals.
posted by psmealey at 6:52 PM on December 19, 2005


"...but I thought CrayDrygu's point sounded like a rationalization for speeding so I wanted to make the point."

Nope, not at all. I was traveling within 5mph of around 95%+ of the surrounding traffic.
posted by CrayDrygu at 6:59 PM on December 19, 2005


why don't these fuckers know that 4 wheel drive might get you going in the snow, but that high gravity configuration gives you NO advantage whatsoever in terms of maneurverability in the snow?

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS BLATANT GENERALIZATION:
In the case of the drivers I'm thinking of (the SUVs in the median on the way to/from Vermont,) a lot of them are young guys with pricier rides; given their geographic origin many of them are probably either stockbrokers, traders, institutional salespeople or rich kids in a car daddy paid for. Having been in that cohort as a younger, stupider George, I can vouch for the incredible potency of testosterone in enhancing one's stupidity. If you've got a bunch of buddies with you the effect is exponential.

Experience helps a lot in dealing with slippery conditions; unfortunately, the bulk of the NY Metro Area's driving population is concentrated in places where snow that sticks or creates hazardous conditions lasting more than a few hours is relatively rare, and where the roads are congested enough that high-speed driving in storms almost never happens. If there's a good dump in the area things'll generally shut down until they clear the roads and apply lots of sand and salt.

In Upstate NY and Vermont, where these kids are going skiing, the situation's completely different; snow sticks and it can take a while to get the road cleared. Plus these guys usually don't consider delaying their itinerary to be an option. When they get on the NYS Thruway or I-91 eager to get to Hunter or Killington in time to hit a few bars before turning in Friday night, or on Sunday when they're heading back home hung over but thinking about how early they have to get up to make the train in the morning, the truck doesn't complain when they mash the pedal. Sadly, they often lack the experience to understand what happens when you put the foot on the brake.

It took me several snow "incidents" (thankfully, none serious) before I wised up. Now I'm the old guy I used to ignore when I was their age.
posted by Opposite George at 7:15 PM on December 19, 2005


I'll admit that keeping pace is the safest thing you can do on the highway.

Yes.

I always get a bit edgy by contrast when I see people driving 85mpg and weaving in and out of traffic

Absolutely.
posted by Opposite George at 7:19 PM on December 19, 2005


Consider it an act of reverse civil disobediance.

No, son. I'll consider it an act of a complete fucking dickhead who deserves to be rear-ended, or preferably arrested for dangerous driving. And driving too slowly in the wrong lane is dangerous; you smug, witless spanner. Also, learn to spell, you ill-educated scrote.
posted by Decani at 7:42 PM on December 19, 2005


I don't want any more tickets, so I drive exactly the speed limit, in the right lane. Safety be damned. I hate you all. (this is why I take the train)
posted by jewzilla at 9:13 PM on December 19, 2005


well.. i mean.. sure. but you see what the problem is?

yeah.. they forgot the funny.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 10:05 PM on December 19, 2005


My number one pet peeve is how people don't seem to know how to merge into traffic. The entrance ramp is long for a reason, and that reason isn't so you can merge into traffic going at least 70 mph while you're doing 40 and braking when you get to the end of said entrance ramp.

And for my fellow Americans: you haven't driven until you've driven on southern interstates. There are different rules for driving in the left lane vs driving in the right lane that vary by state.
posted by somethingotherthan at 11:28 PM on December 19, 2005


Better late than never: if people would just make sure they aren't driving at the same speed alongside another car (ie preventing people behind them from passing, and using twice the lanes necessary to do so), this other stuff would all work itself out.
posted by davejay at 5:30 PM on December 20, 2005


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