Singing in the lane

The always interesting Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt points out a possible nudge solution for “left-lane” bandits, who are drivers that stay in what is supposed to be a lane for passing slower cars.

One issue, of course, is that for some people, the fastest drivers, the left-lane becomes their de facto lane, and they may force out dozens of drivers (necessitating all kinds of disruptive lane changes) for their own benefit. This raises another possibility. The road could be grooved in such a way, as in Japan’s Melody Road (that’s an engineer inspecting the road pictured above) to produce a certain sound at a certain speed. Grooving could presumably be laid so that drivers going over a certain speed produced a really grating, revulsive sound (music might be tricky as one person’s annoyance would be another’s delight). In a sort of Nudge-like way, drivers could choose to stay in the unpleasant lane if they wished, but they would be subtly steered toward the more harmonic travel lanes.

A video of Melody Road is below. (Unless you speak Japanese, you’re only going to hear the sweet sound of asphalt)

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3 Responses to “Singing in the lane”

  1. Mike Says:

    Wait a moment… if I’m driving in the left lane, and I “force out” other drivers… what were they doing there in the first place? Who’s really at fault here?

    Never studied this mathematically or theoretically… but my hunch is that it’s not left-lane drivers that create traffic. It’s slow left lane drivers. My opinion is that you should never settled into the far left lane unless you’re willing to be the fastest driver on the road. Once there’s one person behind you, speed up or get out of the way.

  2. Steve Adeff Says:

    Like Mike says, it’s not drivers in the passing lanes (really, in a 4 lane highway the most left lane is not the passing lane, the lane left of the lane your in is the passing lane) that cause traffic. It is people changing lanes unnecessarily and people in lanes of traffic flowing faster than they are and having to navigate around them.

    If people would stick to the lane as far right as possible for the speed they are traveling such that they do not have to change lanes often but not going slower than the other traffic in that lane, then we would be much better off.

    It would also help if:

    People accelerated into a faster traveling lane while merging as they are supposed to, but rarely do.

    Stop changing lanes for no reason. I’ve become quite aware of this since moving to MA and the New England area in general, but people seem to like to change lanes, in front of me, as I’m nearly passing them, for no reason. No care in front of them to avoid, no reason to change to a more left lane for exiting, they just change lanes.

    The problem is driving has become a right in this country and not a privilege. Look at all the countries where driving is a privilege and you will see how much better traffic flows and how the drivers are all very on top of the game. When it becomes a right people stop thinking about it and just do their own thing.

  3. Rocky Says:

    Why play music? Why not play repeating instructions?

    “The left lane is for passing only . . .
    The left lane is for passing only . . .
    The left lane is for passing only . . .”

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