HIDDEN TRAPS THAT LOUSE UP YOUR DRIVING
Here is a list of strange traps that can mess up your driving and cause accidents:
- Yellow-trap at a traffic signal traps left turning drivers
with a signal changing to yellow and red, while opposing traffic still has a green light.
- A STOP sign or other warning sign hidden in overgrown bushes or behind parked vehicles:
Look carefully at bushes closer than 8 feet to the road. Look carefully around a parked
moving van (or other vehicle) before passing it. Call authorities to have any vision
- Inadequate following distance: If you are following too close, and the car ahead
suddenly stops, there is little you can do other than steer to avoid a collision. If
the car behind is too close, slow down. Always leave two seconds, plus one second for
speed over 45 mi/hr, plus one more second for each ten tons. To measure this distance in
seconds, start counting the instant the back of the car ahead passes a landmark. Count
"1001 .. 1002 .. 1003 ...." etc. If you pass the landmark before the required
number of seconds, you are too close.
- Burned out left turn (or right turn) traffic signal lamp: The remedy is to have two
signal faces showing the turn arrows. There are several cases:
- Burned out red on 3-section signal: This makes the left
turning driver obey the signals for straight ahead instead of his own. It is possible
that the signal has released other traffic that crosses the left turn operator's path.
- Burned out green arrow: The driver sees the yellow arrow come on and makes a turn
then. Since the yellow arrow is supposed to end the green arrow, it starts traffic
moving when it should be stopping it.
- Burned out yellow arrow: Drivers may not notice that the green arrow went out
without the change to the yellow arrow.
- "Shock wave:" In dense high speed traffic, a sudden stopping of cars ahead may
cause a wave of stopped cars to approach you. You may not have enough time to stop.
Watch what is happening as far ahead as you can see, not just one or two cars ahead.
Construction jobs should have flagmen posted every 500 feet as far as the line of stopped
cars will extend, plus another 1500 feet, to warn high speed traffic when the road is
going to be blocked.
- Turbulence: When a lane is blocked or dropped, cars trying to get over cause
turbulent effects in traffic flow, causing backed up traffic. Drivers try to make
room for themselves, endangering other drivers. If drivers would take alternating turns
between the blocked lane and the lane next to it, there would be much less delay.
- The "natural speed" of the road: Every road has a "natural speed" that
drivers tend to travel at. Factors affecting this natural speed include sight distance, road
smoothness, lane width, amount of other traffic, divider strips, "marginal friction"
(see below), and presence of visible hazards. There are two traps in this natural speed:
- The posted speed limit has no effect on the natural speed of the road. If the posted
limit is much lower than the natural speed, drivers will tend to speed, and no amount of
enforcement will correct the problem.
- Hidden hazards will be ignored, unless signed carefully. It is better to remove the
hazard, or remove any obstructions that hide the hazard. A side road nestled among a row
of trees will not be seen in time.
- Marginal "friction:" Objects close to the road can cause a driver to subconsciously
change speed or alter their position in a lane. Careful use of bushes and signs can tailor
the natural speed of the road. Even a large billboard can be used to slow traffic.
- G-forces (inertia): These come into play any time the velocity or path of a vehicle
is altered. One of the most common mistakes is when the driver of a large vehicle takes a
curved exit ramp too fast, and runs off the road. Carefully observe advisory speed signs
on curve and other warning signs, and heed RAMP SPEED signs.
- Invisible cars: Accidents sometimes happen when cars are hidden by features of the
road. An example is a valley that can hide a car. Another is a hill crest. Either one
could hide a farm tractor, a turning car, an intersection, or a disabled vehicle, causing
you to have to make a panic stop. If you lose sight of the road surface closer than your
proper following distance, slow down!
- Tight weave: An entrance ramp dumps traffic onto a freeway just before your exit
ramp. You have to change lanes across this traffic to get to the ramp. In this case,
it is better to slow down and match the speed of a gap in the entering traffic. Be sure
to signal. You can sometimes do a "scissors weave" where you change lanes as the car
ahead in the other lane does, effectively trading places.
- Street trees: Planting trees closer than 15 feet (5 m) from the street is an
invitation to trouble. Stupid city officials actually encourage this practice, which makes
no sense at all. Trees too close to the street cause all of these problems:
- Trees, bushes, or fences are placed too close to the street block vision, especially
near driveways and intersections.
- Homeowners seem to want to put trees to hide the road, or the intersection, from the
view as seen from the house. They do not care what problems they cause for drivers.
- People who place trees so as to block sight distance should be liable for damages
incurred from any accident caused by inadequate sight distance.
- If a government requires that trees be put along the street, that government should
be liable for any accidents caused by inadequate sight distance due to the trees.
- When the trees grow larger, they can obscure traffic signs or signals.
- An out-of-control vehicle may strike the tree, causing death, injury, or much damage.
If the tree is farther back, the driver has a greater chance of avoiding it.
- The roots of trees planted too close to the street damage the street, sidewalks,
sewer lines, and signpost footings.
- Trees planted too close to streets are constantly being pruned by utility workers
because they foul electric lines and cause power outages.
- Stupid government tricks: Government is ill-equipped to regulate traffic. Most
officials in charge of traffic law and control have absolutely no training in the field.
Here are some of the worst offenses:
- Posting traffic signs so each blocks view of another, to follow strict bureaucratic
rules on sign placement.
- Doing what's cheaper, instead of what's safer.
- Making aesthetic beauty more important than traffic safety.
- Making union break-time rules more important than traffic safety.
- Painting traffic lines in the fall, when winter sanding will soon erase them, to place
the job at the beginning of a fiscal year.
- Collecting trash during rush hour on main streets.
- Sweeping streets during rush hour.
- Leaving hazards in place, so revenues can be increased from violator fines.
- Passing ridiculous speed limits into law, so revenues can be increased from violator
- Quickly rushing to pass ordinances in response to an accident, without taking time
to analyze the problem.
- Doing everything to hinder traffic, instead of moving it.
- Requiring lights to be on under ridiculous conditions, causing many to need jump starts
- Conflict of interest.
- Not knowing principles of traffic control.
- Stupid driver tricks: Some drivers are so hurry-crazed that they will do stupid
things to speed up their trip. Here are some of the worst offenses:
- The nut that changes lanes with just barely enough room between cars to fit through.
- Passing a line of cars by driving on the shoulder.
- The signal jumper who crashes into the yellow stretcher.
- The yellow stretcher who crashes into the signal jumper.
- The Jehu who goes as soon as the traffic on the other street stops for the light -- never
mind that the signal has released a third flow of traffic he doesn't notice.
- Drivers so intent on making turns on red that they don't see their own signal turn
- Not turning on lights when it is dark enough to require them.
- Driving in the left lane of interstate highways to avoid constant lane changing at
entrance ramp merges.
- Stupid pedestrian tricks: Many pedestrians are so careless that they do stupid
things when crossing. Here are some of the worst offenses:
- Walking right out into traffic without regard for safety.
- Crossing against the pedestrian signal.
- Trying to cross during turn phases.
- Continuously crossing, preventing vehicular traffic from moving.
- Crossing on the street level where a pedestrian overpass exists.
- Stopping in the crosswalk to talk with someone crossing the other way.
- Walking on the wrong side of the road where there are no sidewalks. Pedestrians are
supposed to walk facing traffic, in the opposite direction to vehicular traffic flow.
- Joggers trying to keep "momentum" and not stopping before entering crosswalks.
- Stupid bicycle tricks: Cyclists can be extremely
inconsiderate to other users of the road. Here are some of the worst offenses:
- Riding the wrong way on a one-way street.
- Not stopping at STOP signs.
- Disobeying traffic lights.
- Riding on sidewalks (unless posted as bikeways).
- Riding on the wrong side of the road. Bicycles are required to behave like cars.
- Not having required lights and reflectors at night.
- Not signaling turns or stops.
- Using crosswalks, especially to avoid stopping for signs or lights.
- Darting out of alleys or driveways without regard for approaching traffic.
- Keeping "momentum" at all costs, including safety.
- Chaining bicycles to traffic control devices.