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Author Topic: Last Minute Decisions on the Road  (Read 1015 times)

webny99

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Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« on: June 12, 2019, 02:49:51 PM »

The question "have you ever made a last minute decision on the road?" has an obvious answer for most. Yes, of course.
You can probably even recount some incidents in great detail.

What I am looking for with this thread is examples where last minute driver decisions recur at a given location. This could be because an alternate route tends to pop up on a navigation app, there is often a congested road ahead, or any number of causes. It could even be poor signage, resulting in you missing or almost missing a turn.
Sometimes, there are even locations where you may consciously plan on making a last minute decision. For example: "I'll see what the traffic is like when I get to point X, then decide whether to continue or take route Y."

I'll get into some specific case studies later, but for now, I'm just interested in general topical discussion and any examples of this you may have noticed. To what extent is it problematic when this occurs? What role do transportation agencies play in preventing this type of thing?
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 03:25:20 PM »

Over Memorial Day weekend there was a closure on I-5 north of Castaic due to a hydrogen peroxide spill blocking northbound lanes.  I saw the closure right before the last exit (the uphill grade is huge visually) and drove off into Castaic.  The only true alternate to I-5 is San Francisquito Canyon Road which I knew well from previous day trips.  Apparently traffic was stuck on I-5 for another four hours after I made my detour.  No app or signage would have helped in this particular instance, just familiarity with the road network with the Sierra Pelona Mountains. 
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thspfc

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2019, 06:12:28 PM »

When I-39/90/94 is backed up southbound from Portage down towards Madison, people like to suddenly exit at US-51 or WI-33, and the movements can cause accidents, only backing up traffic further up the highway.
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webny99

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2019, 10:27:14 AM »

No app or signage would have helped in this particular instance, just familiarity with the road network

That probably happens pretty often with roadgeeks. We tend to have a good idea of not only what is normal or abnormal for a certain area, but also what alternate routes are available. In my case, in my area I can usually identify right away whether a delay is just congestion, or an accident or major incident, even on roads I don't drive every day, just because I spend enough time roadgeeking and browsing on Google Maps that I am more aware than most of what normal traffic conditions are.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2019, 10:45:17 AM »

No app or signage would have helped in this particular instance, just familiarity with the road network

That probably happens pretty often with roadgeeks. We tend to have a good idea of not only what is normal or abnormal for a certain area, but also what alternate routes are available. In my case, in my area I can usually identify right away whether a delay is just congestion, or an accident or major incident, even on roads I don't drive every day, just because I spend enough time roadgeeking and browsing on Google Maps that I am more aware than most of what normal traffic conditions are.

For me I usually try drive the roads that interest me which usually gets me into some pretty varied places.  Back in 2011 there was large crash where a trucker went across I-10 near Salome, Arizona which shut down the freeway for 7 hours.  Beyond Vicksburg Road there isn’t many viable ways to reach US 60.  I just got off at Avenue 75E and took Salome Road all the way to Tonopah to bypass the wreck.  I had to use some dirt roads but it was far better than sitting in a car for 7 hours in the desert.  I knew of the dirt alternatives from off-roading in the area, they have a lot of so called “dirt super highways” in the desert. 
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 10:47:31 AM by Max Rockatansky »
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wanderer2575

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2019, 12:28:39 PM »

Very Important (in their own minds) People cut into exit lanes at the last second all over, but where I see it the most in the metro Detroit area is at the ramp from eastbound I-696 to southbound M-10 in Southfield MI.  I drive it every morning rush hour as well as at many other times during the day, and it's no surprise to see a dozen or more cars slice their way into the exit lane in the last 1/4 mile before the exit (and to the OP, I have no doubt every one is a consciously planned decision).  There regularly are fender-benders along this stretch; at least once a week there will be smashed cars pulled onto the shoulder or, worse, police/fire on the scene with one or two lanes closed because of a more serious crash.

Don't know what MDOT can do about idiot VI(itom)Ps, but constructing braided ramps to eliminate the short weave/merge on M-10 between the I-696 merge and the US-24 exits (similar to what's being done now on eastbound I-96 at I-196 and M-37 in Grand Rapids) might help eliminate the frequent backups on this ramp and at least make it more likely that idiots can cut in at the last second without causing a crash.  But it would be a fairly expensive project; this being Michigan, I'm not holding my breath.  They installed new Clearview signs a couple years ago and probably figure they've done all they can.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 02:49:16 PM by wanderer2575 »
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webny99

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2019, 03:59:53 PM »

People cut into exit lanes at the last second all over, but where I see it the most in the metro Detroit area is at the ramp from eastbound I-696 to southbound M-10 in Southfield MI.

That reminds me. We pulled a stunt of sorts in that area when we were there last spring. We were right about here, in the far left lane, when I realized we needed to take the exit for US 24 North. I conveyed to the driver, at which point he basically did a 90 degree turn, cut all the way across the highway, and squealed into the exit only lane just feet in front of a Mercedes, and inches before the gore point. That was one of the more intense experiences I've had on the road!!  :wow: :D


(and to the OP, I have no doubt every one is a consciously planned decision).  There regularly are fender-benders along this stretch; at least once a week there will be smashed cars pulled onto the shoulder

Yeah, I am unfortunately familiar with this type of thing... happens right here every afternoon with traffic squeezing into the right lane at the last second (I have expressed ire about this in other threads...). Several times a week, there will be a fender bender here as well, due to the stop-and-go flow of traffic, in addition to people cutting in at high speeds. In the case of commuter traffic, this isn't what I would consider a last minute decision, because they are planning on cutting in regardless of traffic conditions. However, traffic from out of the area may very well be innocent in cutting over at the last second.
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TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2019, 04:30:10 PM »

The I-94/494/694 split in Maple Grove, headed east on I-94. There's a variety of reasons why this happens; traffic, indecision about the best way to get someplace in the west metro (for example, many of the same points can be reached via taking 494 or taking 94 to US 169), and the lack of control cities leaving people unsure of the best way around town.
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sparker

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2019, 05:41:57 PM »

I've seen issues with one particular interchange configuration -- where there is a median U-turn in place of a loop or flyover -- with which I've personally seen some very close near-misses.  One is on WB I-10 at the I-20 merge near Kent, TX; traffic from either WB 10 or 20 that wishes to access the EB direction of either route must utilize this U-turn -- which isn't that much of an issue for WB 10 to EB 20, because neither the exit nor the merge require crossing mainline traffic to reach the appropriate (inner) lanes.  But the other movement: WB I-20 to EB I-10, requires crossing both the inbound traffic from WB I-10 (merging from the left) and crossing traffic heading from EB I-10 to EB I-20 (including a majority of the truck traffic!) to access the right-hand ramp for I-10.  I've seen at least three near-misses (with accompanying horn-blowing) there, with 2 of the 3 involving the EB merge. 

That configuration is echoed in Oregon at the US 97/OR 58 junction north of Chemult -- but with a much shorter and thus lower-speed U-turn "ramp" that in TX.  I've only seen two near-misses there (one per direction) -- but both involved cars crossing or merging with logging trucks (if that had become an incident/accident, I believe we all can intuit which party would entail the most damage).  Presumably the various DOT's involved (a) calculated that the reverse movement wouldn't be used all that much, and (b) elected to save a shitload of money compared to a flyover.   Of course of these two the OR configuration is considerably worse because of the sharp turn and the ensuing low speeds involved (there are dedicated deceleration lanes involved, but the issue is getting to them).   Intrinsically troublesome -- but not likely to be changed (particularly TX) until the whole facility (at least US 97 in OR) is itself upgraded.           
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webny99

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2019, 08:32:13 AM »

What about turning left from a through lane, or vice versa, at at stoplight?

Right here, sometimes as many as 10 out of every 25 cars will suddenly turn left from the straight lane, while an additional 5 out of 25 will suddenly turn right from the straight lane. Thus, the overall traffic proceeding straight can be less than half of what it would be with no traffic, and it still backs up for the next stoplight (3/4 mile from here). Many drivers figure once they are completely stopped facing a green light, it will be quicker to seek an alternate route. Wise choice, as this entire corridor is lacking investment to the point of being third world, and therefore screwed with unnecessary traffic problems.

If I have a chance, I will try to get some video footage proving how much traffic turns directly from the straight only lane at this light.
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1995hoo

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2019, 09:55:39 AM »

^^^^

That sort of thing (whether going left or going right) is pretty common at some intersections in DC. The right turn from SB 15th onto WB Constitution is one such place where there is one right-turn lane, yet more people turn right from the adjacent straight-thru lane than from the turn lane.

Then you have eastbound Constitution at 18th. I hope the Street View link below works as I'm using the Google Maps iPad app. Note the left-only lane and the adjacent option lane allowing left or straight. Problem is, the green arrow comes on at the end of the eastbound green cycle. You endanger yourself bigtime if you try to stop in the option lane to wait for the green arrow, as people coming up behind you will want to go straight and will have a green. You also endanger yourself turning left from the option lane when the green arrow is on, as a LOT of drivers (all sorts, not just cabbies or out-of-area plates or Uber or whatever.....seemingly everyone) will routinely go straight from the left-turn-only lane. It's at its worst during rush hour, of course.

https://goo.gl/maps/yyWRkiEbrynpWxAA7
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webny99

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2019, 01:07:34 PM »

Then you have eastbound Constitution at 18th. I hope the Street View link below works as I'm using the Google Maps iPad app.

The location is right, it's just zoomed in on the pavement to a larger-than-life level.


a LOT of drivers (all sorts, not just cabbies or out-of-area plates or Uber or whatever.....seemingly everyone) will routinely go straight from the left-turn-only lane.

Interesting situation. I think the problem is that the left lane should not be a turn only lane. Or, if volumes dictate a turn-only lane is needed, then the other side of the intersection should have that lane blocked off, either with markings or a median of some sort. Having four lanes on both sides of the intersection, but marking an approach lane as turn only, is asking for trouble. I wouldn't blame anyone for using the left lane as a through lane. Of course, you shouldn't be able to use it as a through lane, but since you can, why not?
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mrsman

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2019, 01:31:21 PM »

Then you have eastbound Constitution at 18th. I hope the Street View link below works as I'm using the Google Maps iPad app.

The location is right, it's just zoomed in on the pavement to a larger-than-life level.


a LOT of drivers (all sorts, not just cabbies or out-of-area plates or Uber or whatever.....seemingly everyone) will routinely go straight from the left-turn-only lane.

Interesting situation. I think the problem is that the left lane should not be a turn only lane. Or, if volumes dictate a turn-only lane is needed, then the other side of the intersection should have that lane blocked off, either with markings or a median of some sort. Having four lanes on both sides of the intersection, but marking an approach lane as turn only, is asking for trouble. I wouldn't blame anyone for using the left lane as a through lane. Of course, you shouldn't be able to use it as a through lane, but since you can, why not?

Constitution Ave is one of the worst examples in Washington DC of improper lane allocation.  The street is 8 lanes wide from the Potomac River to Penn Ave, yet (other than at the corner of 15th St) there is no dedicated left turn lane.  The left thru lane suddenly becomes a left only lane.  Eastbound is worse than westbound, namely because they are more places to turn left in that direction due to many streets blocked by the National mall.  So eastbound, the left lane forces a left at 18th, 15th, 12th, and 6th.  Westbound, the left lane forces a left at 9th and to the Memorial Bridge.

And even where left turns aren't required, someone making a permissive left could still block the thru traffic.  And yes, plenty of people make illegal lefts that are prohibited during rush hours.

IMO, it would be better if the street were delineated as 3-L-4, instead of 4-4.  There would be a lane where traffic can pull off and turn left.

Starting from Penn and heading westbound, it should be as follows:

Between Penn and 6th: 1 parking*, 2 lanes westbound, 3 lanes eastbound.
Between 6th and 9th: 1 parking*, 2 lanes westbound, 1 left turn lane, 3 lanes eastbound, 1 parking
Between midpoint of 15th/14th and 9th: 1 parking*, 2 lanes westbound, 1 left turn lane, 3 lanes eastbound, 1 parking*
From a little west of 15th to midpoint of 15th/14th:  1 parking*, 2 lanes westbound, 2 left turn lanes, 2 lanes eastbound, 1 parking* [similar to current arrangement]
From a little west of 15th to Virginia: 1 parking* [forced right onto Virginia], 3 lanes westbound, 1 left turn lane, 2 lanes eastbound, 1 parking*
From Virginia to a little west of 18th: 3 lanes westbound, 2 left turn lanes, 2 lanes eastbound, 1 parking*
From a little west of 18th to 21st:  1 parking*, 3 lanes westbound, 1 left turn lane, 2 lanes eastbound, 1 parking*
From 21st to Henry Bacon: 1 parking*, 2 lanes westbound, 2 left turn lanes**, 2 lanes eastbound, 1 parking*
From Henry Bacon to 23rd: 1 parking*, 2 lanes westbound, 1 unused median lane, 1 left turn lane, 2 lanes eastbound, 1 parking*
Offramp from I-66 to 23rd:  The two lanes at the off-ramp will remain two lanes approaching the intersection, the left lane will be a forced left turn onto 23rd.


** The original 3rd lane westbound between 18th and 21st will be forced left at Henry Bacon.

The parking lanes with a * would have rush hour parking restrictions.

In this way, the entire stretch will have 2 unimpeded lanes in each direction (3 during rush hours).  In addition, an additional full time lane will exist beyond 15th - eastbound all the way to Penn, westbound all the way to Henry Bacon.  With the exception of the turn onto Henry Bacon, the left thru lane will never be forced to turn left.  The forced right turns that currently exist, will still be in place, but most of those forced rights are from the rush-hour parking lane.  These are westbound at Virginia and 23rd.  Eastbound at 17th, 15th, and 9th.  Of course, all 3 lanes will force a right at Pennsylvania.

Most of the existing parking is left intact, with the exception of some westbound spaces near 18th to accommodate the double left turn.  Given the fact that for some part there are three unimpeded traffic lanes, many sections of parking that are now rush hour restricted can be converted to full time parking.  I recommend that for eastbound between 9th and 6th, but there are probably other places where it can make sense given traffic conditions.
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tradephoric

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2019, 01:53:52 PM »

There are some "Michigan Lefts" where you have multiple U-turn options.  Depending on whether the light is green determines whether it's faster to go through the intersection and make the U-turn or turn right on the side-street to make the U-turn.  Also sometimes if the u-turn is queued up, it can make more sense to drive past it and make a U-turn at the next turnaround (as these median u-turn corridors are littered with these turnarounds). 
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Kulerage

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2019, 11:04:13 PM »

I guess pretty much every time you reevaluate a turning decision at the last second counts.
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Verlanka

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2019, 05:31:48 AM »

I guess pretty much every time you reevaluate a turning decision at the last second counts.
Like when you miss a turn for some reason.
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Eth

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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2019, 11:05:23 AM »

Sometimes, there are even locations where you may consciously plan on making a last minute decision. For example: "I'll see what the traffic is like when I get to point X, then decide whether to continue or take route Y."

There's an intersection very near me that I went through this morning that fits this category.

Approaching this intersection traveling east, I have two options: continue straight through the downtown area (speed limit 30, heavy pedestrian traffic including a speed table) and then turn left three blocks later, or turn left to go around it (speed limit 35, meant for through traffic) and then turn right about four blocks later. The left turn here is protected-only, with the green arrow appearing at the same time as the through green (but remaining green for a shorter time).

If I come to the intersection and the through movement is green while the left turn has a red, I'll continue straight into downtown. Otherwise (either both green or both red) I'll turn left and take the slightly faster route around. That's doubly true in the mornings when the left turn further downstream (again, traveling east) results in me having to stare into the sun to find a gap in traffic.
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Re: Last Minute Decisions on the Road
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2019, 06:03:53 PM »

I'd say the only place I routinely make a last-second decision is when deciding between express or local lanes. Places like the Dan Ryan in Chicago or I-271 around Cleveland, sometimes the express lanes are backed up and the local lanes aren't.

 


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