Passing lane speeder idea – fix or pipe dream?

via Stuff

via Stuff

…how does it explain why people actually speed up when the road widens? To do that, we need to refer to what is known as “risk homeostasis”. This is the idea that all of us have a certain amount of perceived risk that we think is acceptable. When the perceived risk is below that particular level (or goes above it), we change our behaviour to adjust how much risk we feel. When a narrow road becomes wider (such as with the addition of a passing lane), the risk sensation decreases and our behaviour changes to reflect that.

Homeostasis works just like the thermostat in your heat pump at home, turning up the heat or cooling down the room to keep the desired temperature.  You can see it in action in passing lanes as people speed up as the road widens and slow down as the passing lane ends and the road narrows. It may look like they are playing cat-and-mouse with you, but they’re not (at least not most of the time).

Research from Europe demonstrates just how much impact road width can have on driving behaviour. Increasing the width of a road lane from 6m to 8m sees average speeds increase from 80kmh to between 90 and 100kmh.  Moreover, adding to the number of lanes on a road (such as with passing lanes) produces faster speeds even where the width of individual lanes remains constant.

Chris M writes

So, I’ve just been driven for a while on SH1 in the Lower North Island. I saw a couple of cases of ‘speeding up in the passing lane’ behaviours that various commentators have been on about in the media recently and I had a random idea…

How about reducing the limit in the LEFT lane of a passing lane to 90?

This is the limit for any trucks anyway so would give the police an excuse to ping someone for misbehaving (speeding up) and an opportunity to exercise some discretion when there is no traffic.

Happy to be shouted down, rubbished or ignored…


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

40%