Unsafe Lane Changes

Unsafe Lane ChangeThere are days when I wish I still had my ticket book. I watched a particularly foolish middle aged driver the other afternoon who needed to cross over two lanes of traffic in order to prepare for a left turn about a kilometer ahead. This driver did zoom across all the lanes without pause, ending up in the left hand lane about three vehicle lengths ahead of a heavy truck. To make life really interesting for the truck driver the next step this driver made after the lane change was to apply the brakes.

I often wonder if drivers realize that a loaded heavy truck can have 50 to 60% of the braking capacity of light vehicles. Add a bit of application lag due to the normal operation of an airbrake system and that heavy truck may need more than twice the distance you do to stop. This is the normal state of affairs and can be even worse if the brakes are not fully adjusted and working properly.

This unthinking driver put the trucker at a disadvantage, forcing his vehicle into a space that was inadequate. Compounding the problem was the brake application at a point where the truck had no place to go and no distance to stop. I don't think I could have picked a better example of how to make an unsafe lane change.

What to do with the remaining 900 meters before the left turn? Perhaps it could have been used profitably by signaling and asking the surrounding traffic to make the room for the lane changes. What if traffic was heavy and there might not have been time to reach the left turn lane? Turn right onto the crossroad and double back. The safety of other road users is not something that you can exchange for your convenience.

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