If you snooze…
We’ve all heard of the saying that there are two seasons; winter and construction. So why does it seem to surprise many drivers when they see the road signs letting them know the lane is closed? Better yet, why do drivers drive up to the “lane closed” sign and then try to move over at the last second? Was it a surprise for them to notice the warning sign? Did they not see it in time to make a choice?
When I’m teaching in the car I always teach my students to look a minimum of 2 blocks ahead while driving. That’s roughly where you’ll be in 12 to 15 seconds while driving at city speed. This gives you at least 12 to 15 seconds to make choices. Now, even though we teach our students to look at least 12 seconds, the reality of this is that I teach my students to surpass the minimum of 12 seconds. They usually look roughly 20 to 30 seconds ahead of them while driving through the city. It usually only takes around 3 seconds to change lanes, so this gives yourself time to see, think and respond to problems ahead, like a closed lane because of construction, a parked vehicle or a narrow road ahead.
The added bonus about driving toward construction zones is the bright orange signs or the neon signs letting you know that construction is up ahead. Why wait until you reach the sign before moving over? Also, if you think about it, why would all of the drivers ahead of you be moving over if there wasn’t a problem? Seeing the traffic pattern is a big clue that your lane is closed for construction, even if you haven’t seen the warning signs yet.
Okay, so how can you help the other drivers who are, shall I say, ‘clueless in Seattle’ that they’re approaching a closed lane because of construction? Anticipate that they’ll want to move over and adjust your speed to allow them space in front or behind you. This type of cooperation will also help the flow of traffic continue to move along at a decent pace.