We return once more to part four of 20 Things to Avoid to be a Conscientious Driver, a WARNING: INCOMING RANT series, guest written by Andrew Risenhoover. We spotlight another key flub made on the road consistently. Despite how simple of a task it is, it is one of the biggest contributors to traffic accidents today.
4. Failing to reach the freeway speed limit before merging onto the freeway.
You may not know this, but the “on ramp” to the freeway has a different and more accurate name; it’s called the “Acceleration” lane. The point of the on ramp, and it’s length, is to give you the time to quickly accelerate to freeway speeds before entering freeway traffic. Failing to do so quickly makes you a hazard on the road. A hazard to the drivers already on the freeway, and also to those who may be stuck behind you on the on ramp. It is bad enough being the only person not going the speed you should be, but slowing down more than yourself increases said risk exponentially. You create a bottleneck on the freeway, and cause a slowdown point on the freeway. Did you know that slowdowns like that can be felt for hours afterwards? So, your slowdown not only inconveniences and threatens the safety of those there at the time, but you are potentially risking hundreds of drivers' lives by doing so.
I sense that there may be an argument stating, “My car is so crappy, old, slow, etc, that it can’t get going that fast.” Bullshit. I drove a 1986 Toyota Corolla, with more engine efficiency issues than you could count. Air intake system was choked and dirty, exhaust was old and clogged, carburetor in dire need of replacement, solid steel construction. It was slow. It was slower than anything I have ever driven. However, on any freeway on ramp, I was able to reach freeway speeds before entering the freeway. If your car is worse, do not use the freeway, your car was not made for it, and doesn’t belong there. Freeways and Highways may be the fastest routes in most cases, but if you are driving a car that can’t keep up with modern vehicles, then it doesn’t belong on the road.
This particular issue is especially dangerous for truckers. Their almost exclusive use of the right hand lanes means they tend to be the types of vehicles you are merging into. I don’t know how well people understand Newtonian Law, and how physics work, but stopping a hunk of metal that weighs an average of 80,000lbs (an average SUV is 6,000lbs) suddenly is very difficult. Don’t mess with the truckers. They are the reason our grocery stores have food, our electronic stores have toys, our gas stations have gas. You have a lot to thank for those brave and patient men and women. It’s time they get a bit more respect and courtesy on the road.