Question of the Week, Month, Whatever

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Past Questions

This Week/Month/etc Question (6/6/96)

What can be done so that two-lane highways will function better?

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Things to Consider

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Your Input

So what do you think?

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Others Input

From: Michael Angelo Ravera <>
Date: Friday, August 16, 1996 7:22 PM

In California and many other places, drivers are and should be required to
pull over when able when they feel that they must travel slowly are are 
holding up traffic. Enforcement of this law is occasional but not unheard 
of. Better ennforcement of this law would likely lead to better public 
awareness and better cooperation.

The theory is great but the problem is that, usually, when someone
feels that they must travel well below the speed of the other traffic,
they are fixated upon the road ahead and don't dare check their
mirrors. This fact leads me to my next suggestion. In California,
headlights are often required on two lane highways. (DRL would be an
acceptable substitute) I think that this is a good idea. If everyone
would do this, it would make passing vehicles who can't or won't look
back a good deal safer. It also alerts vehicles that wish to enter the
roadway of your approach.Our accident rates on "Bloody Alleys" have
dropped quite noticably withincreased traffic by use of this

Better labeling of turnouts and passing lanes are both good ideas, but
restriping portions of highway for narrower or no shoulders and
passing lanes for short distances could certainly make passing a good
deal safer and turnout use a bit more frequent. At the very least it
would enable one to get around that motorhome at a wide spot in the

I don't believe agressive speed limits are necessary on two lane
roads, but I am in favor of reasonable ones. I am a well known
advocate of R&P speed limits everywhere. It is certainly reasonable to
post most two-lane highways at 110 km/hr or higher with safety. I
think that the 85th percentile speed strikes a good balance and
achieves good compliance. I don't think what holds up traffic on
two-lane roads has as much to do with the speed limit as a variety of
viewpoints as to what a person and vehicle are capable of. On
multilane roads this fact is overridden by lane discipline (SLOWER
TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT). There is no lane discipline to practice on
two-lane roads. The

bast that we can do a two-lane highways is to pull over when holding up 
traffic, stripe passing lanes when the road is wide enough, turn on our 
lights, and pass with care.

From: Richard Rogers <>
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 1996 19:02:46 -0400 (EDT)

The slowpokes pulling over idea is nice in theory but will not work
for two reasons that I can readily think of:

A) People will refuse to cooperate;
B) Not an especially safe thing to do in the United States.

I'll explain B) first.  Ever drive on the Trans-Canada Highway?  I've
spent a lot of time on it over the years, and one of the nice things
I've noticed (in particular the stretch east of Moncton has this)
is that the shoulders tend to be much wider than they are on two-
lane roads in the United States.  This allows RV drivers, for 
instance, to move most of the way off the travel lanes, while 
staying on the pavement and continuing at their travel speed, thus
allowing faster traffic to pass more easily (because it's easier
to spot oncoming traffic and because you have more space).  Two-
lane roads in the States often have NO paved shoulders whatsoever.

Regarding A), this point seems obvious.  People won't get out of the
way on the Interstate when they're going 65 in the left lane as it
is, so I can't imagine them getting out of the way on a two-lane
road!  (In North Carolina, it is the law on the Interstate that you
move out of the way of faster traffic--even if the faster person
is speeding.  Naturally people ignore it, especially minivan drivers,
and it is not enforced either.)

What's the solution?  I don't think there will EVER be a complete
solution.  I think that higher speed limits on two-lane roads would
help, since it eliminates the problem of the guy who would drive
faster but obeys the law out of a sense of civic duty or something.
Unfortunately many states will refuse to go above 55 on these roads.
Perhaps a more effective solution might be to establish stretches
every 20 miles or so where there are three lanes, or maybe two lanes
on one side, for about 2-3 miles, to give people a chance to pass.

Another good solution would be more rational passing zones.  Ever
get stuck in a no-passing zone when you can see perfectly well that
nobody's coming the other way?  Happens to me all the time; US-15
in Virginia south of I-64 is an ideal example in many places,
as is VA-20 between Dillwyn and Scottsville.  If they would ALLOW
passing where it is REASONABLE, there wouldn't be so many damn
problems with pokes.  (As it is I have to admit to passing over
the double-yellow on a few rare occasions when there was no other
way to get around someone.)

But I suppose the ultimate solution is something of a cliche around
this page: people just need to have some manners and common sense.
If they DID, we'd have a lot fewer problems on ALL roads.  But they
don't, and we don't.

(I'm deliberatly not touching the Daytime Running Lights
experience in Canada has convinced me that on two-lane roads, they
are a virtual necessity, but this is not the place for that debate.)

From: Bob Morrow <>
Date: Sun, 23 Jun 1996 23:15:42 -0400 (EDT)

I'd like to see the small reflectors used more.  You know, the kind of
reflectors that are glued to the road over the white and yellow lines.
They're immensely helpful in snow or rain.

It would also help a lot to vigorosly enforce the laws about holding up
traffic.  Every state has some form of law stating that you will not impede
the flow yet it is almost universally ignored by the cops.  (But! Go 3+ mph
over the limit and you're a criminal on the order of Charles Manson, which
requires the mobilization of -all- police resources to stop.)  Some states
pervert those laws by saying you can't impede the flow EXCEPT if it
involves exceeding the speed limit.  Then it's okay to impede the flow.

That leads to  the next issue- raise the damn limit!  Use the 85%ile rule
and everyone will be happy (except the anti-speed Nazis).

Wider shoulders, not necessarily paved, would also be nice so that big
road-hogs (oops, I mean RVs) can pull over and let people by.  Provided, of
course, they actually use those things known as mirrors.

Certain intersections should be lighted if they are high-accident

From: Paul Boutin <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 1996 10:13:57 -0400 (EDT)

Police should pull over and/or ticket as many people for driving
10mph UNDER the posted speed limit as they do for people
driving 10mph OVER.

They shouldn't be speed LIMITS, they should be Speed
Safety Guidelines!!

Speed driven on any roads should also take into consideration
the type of vehicle.  My '93 Mazda RX-7 corners and stops (ABS)
a hell of allot better than an '82 Chevette!  So I think I should be
allowed, traffic permitting, to drive faster than most other vehicles!

From: James M. Mullins, Jr. <>
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 1996 21:42:17 -0400 (EDT)

First, I would like to say that there are numerous problems with
two-lane roads that need to be corrected.

Slow-poke drivers:
Slow pokes should be required to pull over whenever traffic backs up
behind them if there is room to do so. Where I live, there is a big
problem with loaded coal trucks not being able to do this. Recently,
the WVDOH installed several pull-offs for them to pull over on. This
has helped some, but not enough. We need more of these. We also need
to have more money spent on truck lanes on mountains and projects to
straighten curves on these roads.

Speed limits:
Speed limits play part of the problem on two-lane roads. They should,
like freeways, be set as high as safely possible (85th or 90th
percentile speed) to encourage those drivers who won't break the speed
limit for any reason to speed up and match the speed of traffic. Also,
on two lane roads, I believe it is important that there be no
car/truck differentials (although I would allow ones for different
time periods). This would prevent differing traffic speeds.

Turn signaling:
Just like on other roads, people really need to use their trun/lane
change signals more. Maybe cops should start ticketing for this rather
than nailing everryone who's speeding (but driving in an otherwise
safe and legal maneer and at a reasonable and prudent speed). That
might prevent a lot of accidents.

Turning lanes:
More turning lanes need to be built. This gives peoiple who need to
turn left a chance to wait without bloking everone else. In many
areas, more center turn lanes need to be built as well.

Our roads need to have better signage and markings on them. In many
rural areas, like West Virginia, most roads have improper signage and
often have very, very faded lines on them. Why not use the same type
of long-lasting (6 years guaranteed by warranty) tape that Virginia is
using on interstate highways?

Traffic lights and stop signs:
In some places, the traffic lights and stop signs are totally
unnecessary.  There is this one light in my town where, whenever it
breaks, traffic always flows a lot smoother than when it was
working. There would hardly ever be cars waiting to turn onto another
street. Also, there are stop signs that need to be removed as well. I
just have this feeling that some of them are mounted for the sole
purpose of revenue-generation by cops ticketing people who fail to
stop for them when there is no other reason to stop at an intersection
(or other things). A stop sign was put up in fron of a Division of
Motor Vehicles building in my town right before a crosswalk (no
intersection with another street). It was later torn down. I, just
like everyone else in Logan, probably knew it had another purpose.
When you filed to stop to let the people cross the street, you would
get a ticket for 1. not yielding to pedestrians (a nonmoving offense)
and 2.  running a stop sign (moving offense, as in points, bigger
fine, and insurance surcharge).

James M. Mullins, Jr,

From: Jim Sikorski <>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 1996 15:09:10 -0400 (EDT)

I drive 2 lane roads for about 40 miles per day.  No highways where I go. 
Over the past few years I have noticed a few things.  Somehow the local
police got a load of VASCAR devices and began painting lines all over the
road to scare the hell out of everyone.  The problem here is that the
limits are ridiculous.  People unfamiliar with the area see the lines and
slam on the brakes(hopefully no one is tailgating these people!)  Also like
I said these limits are too low.  I really get mad when people actually
drive 25/35.  We need a better sign system.  Set a real speed limit that is
reasonable and one for first time drivers on the road(we have many turns so
this would be beneficial.)  Also around our turns they post arrows and
recommend a slower speed.  Many times the recommended speed is too low
also.  It may recommend taking a turn at 15 when toy can really take it at
30.  Because of this many people ignore these signs entirely.  These
suggestions are meant for roads with enforced speed limits.  If in other
areas no speed traps are used it doesn't matter if the limit is posted as
10 mph!  The main thing is to tell government officials that slow speed
limits cause accidents and say how in many cases money is the main concern.
That doesn't mean insane speeds should be tolerated though.

From: Dale L. Larson <>
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 13:52:26 -0400 (EDT)

Study who the slow pokes are.  I suspect that many of them are people who
belong somewhere other than behind the wheel of a car anyway.  Driving
should be a priviledge, not a right, and when someone lacks the common
sense, reflexes, or whatever to drive at reasonable rates in a safe manner,
then all of us are better off when that person doesn't drive. When grandpa
is too old to be comfortable going more than 40mph, is he really going to
hit the brake pedal quickly when a child runs into the street?

Enforce more existing laws, like using turn indicators, and not making a
left turn across a double yellow (though it should be legal when the road
is empty, it is ridiculous to make a line of cars a mile long stop while
you turn).

From: John L. Wilson <>
Date: Sat, 17 Aug 1996 11:44:49 -0400 (EDT)

1.  Improved training.  A lot of people don't know how to safely
    pass on two lane roads.
2.  Better enforcement, speed limit and passing infractions.
3.  All paved two land roads should have shoulders
4.  Better markings along the roads.

From: Michael K. Hurley 
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 11:24:09 -0400 (EDT)

Four words::Grill mounted Missle launchers!!

Let's be real here.  The state or local authorities are not going to
make those who are traveling at or below the posted (though unreasonable)
speed limit pull off to the side and if they did these people wouldn't
anyways.  This is a problem that must be faced by everyone as the
situation arises.  Myself, I like to pass them at a very inappropriate
time and them pull back in the correct lane almost taking off the front
bumper of their car.  Maybe a good power brake or two is in order also
(depending on how long I followed them and how far below the Limit).
If uanble to pass these vehicles then be sure to maintain that two foot
safety distance from the rear bumper (or is that two second?).

Regardless I will follow some type of plan to be just as bothersome to
them as they are to me.  That is until they come out with an affordable
missle launcher!!

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