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Thread: Best moving traffic lane on highway

  1. #1
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    Best moving traffic lane on highway

    Does anyone know if there's any rule or study showing which lanes tend to have the best traffic flow on, say, 4-lane, 5-lane highways? Does the left lane always move the fastest (depending on location of exits)? I've been in certain stretches where the right side will actually move better... or is it just random, depending on local geometry?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Depends on many factors including land use, number of vehicles, permissiveness and enforcement of traffic laws, parking locations, driveway locations, topography.

    In a 5 lane profile typically the center through lane moves best.
    In a 4 lane profile it depends, 4 lane profiles with medians typically work about the same as 5 lane roads.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
          bluehour's avatar
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    was just discussing this with my husband, and he swears he read an article which argued that the right lane was the quickest in a traffic jam, notwithstanding exits or particularly slow trucks etc.

    will try to get the article off him and post it up here.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Hardly scientific, but I remember years ago when the news did "studies" on this...and it was always the far right lane which moved the quickest.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I always hang in the center, on five lane expressways, and it always seems like I'm zipping past the other lanes, because we middle-laners aren't looking for exits or anything. On two-lane traffic jams, I always stay in the right, mainly because the lefties tend to be overly aggressive, and I feel safer in the right. And if need be I'm positioned to get off at the next exit (potty break, etc). So, it is good to read that the right lane may actually be faster.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Murphy's Law

    The best moving traffic lane is always the one I'm NOT in

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ICT/316's avatar
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    HOV Lanes move the fastest. Actually I nothing to back this up on. I would assume they would but I may be wrong.

    Bill

  8. #8

    Just my observation.

    The under-utilized far right conventional "slow lane" (or far left HOV lane) is actually one you can make good time in especially on I-75 around Detroit and the Ohio/Indiana Turnpike. Seems that many drivers think this is a "Truck only" lane and avoid it like the plague. Seems to only work for 4/6 lane divided highways though. Otherwise the gawkers get in curbside (far right) lanes in 4 or 5 lane undivided scenarios from what I have seen. There is also the apprehension/fear of drivers in undivided highways with lots of access that they will not be able to make that right turn 8 signals ahead if they don't merge into the right lane a half a mile before it.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bluehour View post
    was just discussing this with my husband, and he swears he read an article which argued that the right lane was the quickest in a traffic jam, notwithstanding exits or particularly slow trucks etc.

    will try to get the article off him and post it up here.
    I've noted the same thing as well, particularly when you start hitting some slow traffic. If everyone is in the left lane trying to go fast and then traffic slows, obviously everyone's passing you on the right because no one (hardly anyone) is in the right lane. You just have to take the chance you won't be behind the semi that takes 60 seconds to get back to 75, I mean 55.

    And my brother, who's a sheriff's deputy (whether or not that provides more validity ), claims that the center lane is the most dangerous lane with the most accidents because everyone uses the center lane for passing. And people aren't always identifying that a car is already in the next lane, but maybe a half-car's distance behind them. People tend to keep a sense of who's behind them or ahead of them, but not who may be beside them.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  10. #10
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I find that medians and shoulders move along very nicely when traffic is heavy.

  11. #11
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    best lane

    just curious if anyone does know of any articles, studies, where this is actually discussed?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jgballard View post
    just curious if anyone does know of any articles, studies, where this is actually discussed?
    Try TRB or ITE
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  13. #13
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    I once attended a lecture in which a transportation-planning academic showed the "fast" lane (far left, not HOV) as frequently moving the slowest -- and I've experienced that where I live, because it seems as if people want to be in the fast lane, away from off- and on-ramps, even when those lanes are clear between ramps. Trucks on our 4-lanes-per-direction roads seem to prefer the second lane from the right for that reason, but I think it slows the "faster" lanes.

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