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Thread: The virtue of the turnout lane

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The virtue of the turnout lane

    The virtue of the turnout lane
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    Why can't all states have turnout lanes?

    Well, they can of course -- but most don't. Somehow, the elegant simplicity of providing extra room on the shoulder of a two-lane road to let faster-moving cars safely and courteously get by slower-moving cars is not high on the To Do list of most state highway authorities.

    One of the few exceptions is rural Texas -- where most secondary roads have turnouts -- and it's an embedded part of the drivign culture to actually use them for their designed purpose. So when you come upon a car -- or pick-up full of hay -- that isn't quite doing the limit, it's not necessary to peer eagle-eyed into the distance, waiting for an opportune moment to risk a fly-by (and hope you make it before that oncoming semi closes the distance). Instead, the driver of the slow-moving vehicle will actually look intohis rearview mirror, notice you are there -- and pull to the side at the first turnout to let you get by. This is usually accompanied by a friendly wave -- given and returned, a gesture of road-trip goodwill.

    If this business were standard practice across the land, driving would be a lot less stressfull -- and a lot more safe, too. Attempting a conventional pass -- even where perfectly legal -- is often a perilous undertaking. You've got to judge the time, distance and how quickly your machine can make the jump. Some drivers have a better sense of this than others -- and frequently, the "good driver" is stuck behind the not-so-skilled one up ahead who needs a good mile of free and clear before he'll eventhink about making the attempt. So the fingers drum, the blood pressure rises -- until finally, in desperation, the "good driver" decides to go balls to the wall and attempt a full-fury pass of both the car(s) immediately ahead as well as the slow-mo leading the conga line.

    Even when it's not quite so extreme, most passing maneuvers on secondary roads require at least temporarily violating the posted maximum -- at least, to execute the move safely. If you're doing 55 and the car impeding you is doing 50, a "legal" pass is going to take way longer than the space you've got to work with. So you punch it and run upt to 70 or so -- even if only briefly -- in order to get by. The pass attempt is much safer -- but you've run the risk of getting a piece of payin' paper instead.

    None of this is any good -- and could be dealt with if turnouts became a feature of the landscape and people were drilled to use them, as they are In Texas.

    That -- and actually using the rearview mirror for something other than squeezing a zit or checking out run-amok nose hairs -- would do more for enhancing road safety than all the sobriety checkpoints, seat belt harrasment campaigns and "Smooth Operator" speed enforcement dragnets combined.

    But it'll never happen -- because there's just no money in it.

    END

  2. #2

    Re: The virtue of the turnout lane

    It's even worse when you have the competitive types who will go balls-out to impede you from pulling off the pass. I have had that happen on many occasions, even in areas where there were turnout spots and the slower drivers blatantly ignored them.

    Like the left lane issue, there is simply no money in enforcement.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The virtue of the turnout lane

    Me too - which is why I love to be on my bike. A flick of the wrist and 141 horses (which in a 450 pound package is a pretty good power-to-weight ratio) come alive ... and I am GONE before the obstructionist even registers I've blown past him![

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