Is It Faster To Weave In And Out Of Traffic Or Stay In One Lane?
Do not try this experiment at home
When it comes to driving, there are all plenty of myths in need of busting. The Mythbusters crew have tackled a quite a few of them, such as comparing motorcycles and cars to find the greenest machine and asking that all important question: why don't cars have square wheels? Now Tory, Kari and Grant are out on the road testing which will get you to your destination quicker, weaving into speedier and more promising lanes or sticking it out in a single lane?
In the first test, the crew measures the time it takes for two cars to make it from their workshop, M5 Industries in San Francisco, to the San Jose Tech Museum, a 46 mile commute. Kari and Grant spend the first test weaving in and out of lanes to find the one with the best flow. Tory on the other hand picks one lane and sticks to it.
It takes Kari and Grant an hour and 11 minutes of stress-filed lane swapping to make the 46 mile trek. It takes Tory the lane-sticker a breezy two minutes extra to reach the same location.
The initial test is never comprehensive enough for the Mythbusters team, of course. For the second test, they use four cars with the numbers 1,2,3 and 4 taped on their roofs to indicate which lane of traffic they'll be sticking to on the trip. A fifth car with an X on top weaves in and out of traffic. Kari spends this test in a helicopter keeping an eye on the action below.
In the second test, the car that weaves in and out of traffic makes it to his location in one hour and 16 minutes, again beating the cars that stick to a lane. The next car, which drove the whole commute in the fast lane, arrives only three minutes afterwards -- only four percent slower than the lane-changing car. The time-savings really begin to add up as the other cars arrive. The final car, which drove in the lane used for entering and exiting the freeway, made it in one hour 33 minutes, 25 percent slower than the lane weaving car.
It seems the lane-changer will usually beat the steady drivers, but not by much if you're wise about which lane to drive in. As with all Mythbuster's experiments, do not try these moves on your own roads at home. Lane changes are actually dangerous maneuvers. Lane change collisions account for four to ten percent of all crashes, according to a study from the Department of Transportation. The problem is so bad that some of the first active safety features on cars involved blind-side alert and lane assist, which warn unwary drivers of dangerous lane changes. Weaving in and out of traffic erratically also raises the chance of a driver being a victim of road rage. In the end, the time savings isn't worth the multiple risks.
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