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Lack of commonly followed / enforced rules create congestion

Observations of highway traffic patterns, common choke point problems, and comparative analysis

Photo of Philip Schentrup
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South Florida (SF) is made up of drivers from all over the world. As such, there are very few commonly adhered to principle for drivers with each driver living by their own "rules of the road". Contrast this to driving in Germany on the Autobahn where everyone follows common practices. Even though speeds are greater on the Autobahn, the difficulty in driving is significantly less and the safety improved. In SF, however, driving is chaotic and sometimes downright dangerous. Since few people follow the historical practice of "move left to pass, move right when not passing", traffic flow is significantly sub-optimal. Slow drivers can be found in all lanes, even the far left lanes. In fact, the new driving patterns in SF are quite the opposite. Those who speed the fastest are often found in the far right lanes weaving in and out of traffic because these lanes tend to be less densely used. Since traffic no longer flows in ordered ways, frequent choke points are created where multiple slow vehicles, across many lanes create chaotic and dangerous driving behind them. Commercial truck are a big part of this problem and routinely occupy all but the left most lane. The real problem with SF traffic isn't that there isn't enough road highway capacity, it is that capacity is so poorly utilized. Successful solutions that address this problem via technology, media, and behavioral coaching (law enforcement) would likely increase road capacity by over 20% (guesstimate).

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Photo of KatieWalsh 100

HI Philip, I'm Katie, one of the Facilitators here, thanks so much for this post - it sounds like you have lived in Germany and used their road system? Can you give us all a bit more information about that for inspiration? I know they are famously fast - how do they do it? I'm also interested in the past part of your post - behavioural coaching - I know you mean that as a euphemism for law enforcement, but maybe something softer is possible - behaviour change campaigns on social media or some such? Let me know what you think.