A bigger picture would help when it comes to overtaking big trucks

Tuesday, 30 June, 2015

It happens to me all the time, especially on the freeway, I find myself stuck behind a large lumbering truck. Usually there’s the option of eventually overtaking it by moving into another lane going in the same direction.

But what about situations where there is only one lane available in your direction of travel, and an overtaking manoeuvre requires moving into the on-coming traffic lane?

A clear view of the road ahead, before attempting to move into the other lane, would be useful, to say the least, but sometimes such chances are far and few between. How about then attaching a widescreen monitor to the back of large vehicles, that projects an image of what lies ahead? Sounds like an idea worth looking into.

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Could this Dutch idea make more intersections safer for cyclists?

Monday, 8 June, 2015

Urban planners in the Netherlands have devised a way to integrate bicycle lanes into the intersections of relatively busy roads, which hopefully makes using roads a little safer for cyclists. Might it be time to take the Dutch idea further afield?

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If only I’d turned right instead of left I may have lived a lot longer

Wednesday, 30 April, 2014

Maybe I’ll start compiling a list of tips to aid those keen in living, and leading, a long, healthy life. First up, work to eliminate bad stress, bearing in mind a certain degree of stress can be beneficial. All things in moderation, so to speak.

Next, go by a name beginning with one of the first letters of the alphabet. Anita or Andrew, say. For some reason people with names starting with A or B tend to have longer lifespans than others. Names starting with D aren’t so good though. Seemingly there is some tie in with school grading systems. An A mark is good, D not so much.

Avoiding left turns is another. Though this depends where you live, and the side of the road you drive on. In the US for instance, those who steer clear of making left turns, as it generally means moving against a line of on-coming traffic, may live longer. This may be anecdotal, but then again there may be something in it:

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?” “I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre. “No left turns,” he said. “What?” I asked. “No left turns,” he repeated. “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

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On cars, killing, and the law

Thursday, 20 March, 2014

The car as a murder weapon? While the article refers mainly to road laws in the US, it is still an interesting read:

If you want to kill someone, do it with a car. As long as you’re sober, chances are you’ll never be charged with any crime, much less manslaughter. Over the past hundred years, as automobiles have been woven into the fabric of our daily lives, our legal system has undermined public safety, and we’ve been collectively trained to think of these deaths as unavoidable “accidents” or acts of God.

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There’s ways to parallel park, then there’s this way to parallel park

Thursday, 20 February, 2014

Maybe this… example of parallel parking is a scene, or an out-take, from a film. Otherwise it seems to me that the driver would not only have scored an infringement notice for dangerous driving, but also, from what I can tell, parking on the wrong side of the street.

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Algorithms may drive traffic jams off the roads

Thursday, 7 November, 2013

Photo by epSos.de

Traffic jams intrigue me, not the ones with some discernible cause, say road works or an accident, but more the apparently random build-ups of vehicles along a stretch of road, especially freeways, that seem to crop up without rhyme or reason.

These, I learn, are actually referred to as “traffic flow instabilities”, and there may be a way to deal with them through the use of algorithms.

Traffic flow instabilities arise, Horn explains, because variations in velocity are magnified as they pass through a lane of traffic. “Suppose that you introduce a perturbation by just braking really hard for a moment, then that will propagate upstream and increase in amplitude as it goes away from you,” Horn says. “It’s kind of a chaotic system. It has positive feedback, and some little perturbation can get it going.”

(Photo by epSos.de)

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A concise guide to the dark art of parallel parking

Tuesday, 29 October, 2013

Parallel parking, properly that is, is a not an art, or a skill, it’s simply a matter of following the instructions for doing so, properly:

I discovered this one day when, in the pre-enlightened state of “oh, I can’t parallel park very well” I decided one day that maybe I would just try doing exactly (literally) what the directions said, and found to my surprise that I parked absolutely perfectly. And I happened to be driving a rented minivan. After that day, I instantly became able to parallel park, having realized that parallel parking is not a “skill” that you “learn” (you don’t get better by “practicing”), all it is is doing exactly what the directions you originally learned said to do. It does not require judgment developed from practice, merely the mental fortitude to really follow the instructions and not deviate at all.

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There’s the way traffic works, then there’s the way traffic works

Tuesday, 8 October, 2013

I linked to an article a few months ago that offered drivers some suggestions for helping to ease traffic congestion during peak commute times. Maintaining a sizeable gap between the vehicle ahead, and allowing other cars to merge into the lane in front, were among ideas advanced.

According to Jason Liszka though, motorists would be better off doing the opposite. In addition to not allowing other drivers to merge into the lane ahead of them, they should:

  • drive a shorter car
  • not drive during rush hour, and
  • move to New York, or any other place that is free of cars (NY, car free? Really?)

I see. These newer ideas may, or may not, make future commutes by car a little easier.

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The car that didn’t stop exploding

Monday, 12 August, 2013

Just the sort the of situation motorists and emergency services dread… what appear to be gas cylinders, being hauled by a transport vehicle, somehow begin to explode. The question is, how does anyone know when it is safe to approach the scene. Have all the canisters detonated, or have they not?

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There may be ways to surf slow moving waves of road traffic

Friday, 5 July, 2013

Something I notice often while out on the freeway… at times I’m just about in the only car on the road, yet minutes later I’m surrounded by slower moving vehicles that seemed to materalise out of nowhere.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s been an accident, or a bunch of cars, maybe driving in convoy, all entered the freeway at the same time, but that seldom turns out to be the case.

While these types of traffic jams, or rather, slower moving waves of traffic, that seem to form for no reason, are clearly a natural road phenomenon, there are steps that you, as a motorist, can take to alleviate, and maybe even help dissipate, these slow downs.

Have you ever been driving on an interstate highway when traffic suddenly slows to a crawl? You inch along for many minutes while waiting to see the accident which must have caused the jam. At the same time you also curse the “rubberneckers” who are causing the whole problem. But then all the cars ahead of you take off at high speed. The jam is over, but no accident, no police cars, nothing. WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT! A traffic jam with no cause? In the rear-view mirror you see all the poor saps behind you still stuck in the jam. But why? If all those people could just speed up at the same time, the whole traffic jam would evaporate. Why don’t they ever do that? What caused the mysterious slowdown in the first place?

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