Cowboys are drivers (men or women) who frequently change lanes, in an attempt to get to their destination a little faster. Cowboys are greedy and responsible for most traffic slowdowns. A single lane on a highway or freeway can carry about 1000 cars per hour. However, frequent lane changes can slow traffic to half of the maximum speed. In fact, road engineers say that there is a golden range of traffic per lane, where traffic is too heavy to change lanes, so traffic actually moves faster.
Cowboys rarely shorten their trip by more than a few seconds, while they tend to use much more fuel and increased wear on their brakes and tires.
When I am driving, some drivers are in a hurry and follow my car at 5 to 15 feet. Some drivers say that they are preventing another car from moving in front of them. Others are trying to force me to either move faster or change lanes. When we are traveling at the speed limit, the other driver is just being greedy and very dangerous.
For normal drivers the time for the brain to recognize a change in the road ahead is over .4 seconds and it takes about 1/10 second for the response to move from the brain to the muscles. That means a driver who is concentrating intently on the road cannot respond faster than 1/2 second. This means the car will move over 7 1/3 feet per 10 miles per hour (48 feet at 65 miles per hour) before the driver can respond.
If a car changes into the lane in front of your car, you need at least twice the minimum reaction distance. That is why the recommended following distance is 14 to 15 feet per 10 miles per hour (at least 91 feet at 65 miles per hour). Trying to block a driver from entering your lane is not only greedy, but it creates a hazardous condition if the other driver must change lanes to reach an exit or to move across to an HOV (carpool) lane.
Tailgaters are responsible for most rear-end collisions.
- Drivers Who Do Not Know the Limits of Their Vehicle
Most cars sold in the US come with tires rated for 80 miles per hour. Driving faster than that speed causes the tires to overheat and blowout. High-speed tires are available, but most drivers do not know they are necessary. The brakes, steering gear, and suspension of most cars is also limited to 80 miles per hour (even some cars with "Sports Packages"). No public roads in the US are designed for speeds over 80 miles per hour.
- Under-Designed Roadway
Here in the Los Angeles area, streets are designed and built for automobiles and trucks below a certain weight. However, trash trucks often exceed that weight and break the pavement when they turn or accelerate. Fiber reinforced pavement is almost twice as strong as regular pavement (even stronger than pavement with rebar). The fiber is not expensive and has been available for decades. Yet cities don't use it.
- Speed Traps and Similar Restrictions
A local example is that there are special roads for buses. Crossing the bus road is restricted for a much longer time than is necessary for the buses.
- School Zones
In most urban areas, schools are completely surrounded by fences for security. The original purpose of school zones was to slow traffic enough to stop if a child runs into the street. That cannot happen with fenced schools. Slowing traffic when passing a school is no longer necessary. School crossing signs are still important.
- Parking Space Thieves
Almost all city drivers are familiar with this. You are waiting for a space to open and signaling that you are going to enter the space, when suddenly another driver zips into the space. An even worse situation is when one is parallel parking and backing into a parking space when another car, dangerously, fills the space one is partially in.
- Street Cleaning Times
Over the past 50 years, the average number of cars per household has increased from 1 to almost 2.5. This means that there is no available street parking in many neighborhoods. When one side of the street is closed for street cleaning, there is no legal place within several blocks to park one's car. Because street cleaners rarely start their runs on time, the street is unavailable at least four times the necessary time. Even worse is the street cleaning routes where the cleaner always comes after the allotted time.
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