Listening to the traffic jam – A clear signal to yield

One point I briefly touched ranting about people in the roundabout was signaling, or the lack thereof. There is not really much to say except: Signal for goodness’ sake! Sorry for the shouting, but recently you can hear about studies that more accidents have been caused by negligence, especially forgetting to signal, than by distracted driving (texting, eating, you name it). Now, I have an idea against negligence, but it has to wait until the last “proper” part of this miniseries, so bear with me.

But let’s ask ourselves the question: Why does it have to be like that in the first place? I can’t really offer a solution since it is so simple to me. The indicators are even placed so that you can easily hit them when turning the wheel in the appropriate position. And even so, turning them on ahead of time is not difficult at all. I usually try to be constructive about this, but I really can’t see a reason why this happens to begin with. Granted, for forgetting to turn the indicators off, I can understand most drivers of “American” cars. These manufacturers have the false sense of luxury that the sound by the indicators should be somewhat quiet, at least in most models. So therefore it might be hard to hear it. If music is the reason why you don’t hear them, however, that’s entirely different.

Now, since there is not much to say about this other than that it shouldn’t happen to begin with, let me write about another second topic, yield signs… or, again, the lack thereof. To give you an idea of how a different system works, I will, again, take a German example. Therefore I will go through a few basic signs and how they affect the traffic flow.

Yield    There are a lot of variations for this sign but I will go with the basic one. You will see it here in North America as well, and it does the same thing as here as well. You slow down, approach the crossing and – as the sign suggests – yield to oncoming traffic, if there is any. If there isn’t, you may go, allowing in a lot of cases to just breeze through corners that you can easily see. You could see Stop signs as an escalated form of the Yield signs, forcing traffic to (officially) stop for at least 3 seconds before turning, regardless of traffic. These are mainly used on busy and/or hard to overlook intersections. To the best of my knowledge from driving all over Germany, there is no such thing as an all-way stop. I will not swear on that, but I have never learned about them before North America nor seen anyone. And I will write more about this in a moment.

Right of Way for the next Intersection    Something that you see all around Europe, we have signs indicating when you have the right of way, such as these. On some minor roads that would usually have to yield to any new intersection there might be some farm roads that are even lower in rank than them. In this case you would find this sign, telling you that you don’t have to stop at the next intersection.

 

General Right of Way    This sign means that the road you are on has the right of way. What that means for you is that you don’t have to worry about stopping for any other intersection in the foreseeable future and as long as you follow the main road. Some signs have additional signs underneath, indicating which way the main road follows at the intersection. This really speeds up main roads without forcing any side to stop and constant pesky red lights.

 

Lights, Equal Crossing    But of course there are also lights in Europe! There have to be, especially in cities or heavily used intersections. But just not as many as here. Furthermore we have something called an equal crossing (shown on the left). Now, to explain this you need to know the basic rule that applies if traffic lights fail or if you ever come to a crossing without yield or right of way: Left before Right. This simply means that the person on your left always has the right of way. There is no first come, first serve attitude as on the all-way stops. If 4 cars happen to appear around the same time and all go left or straight, someone just has to be courteous to let someone through, so that left before right can take effect. And yes, sometimes this sign will tell you about these intersections, and sometimes (especially in cities), it is reversed. But then it will say so.

Every German driver knows about these and can drive accordingly (exceptions excluded). Of course there is more to these rules, but that’s not much different here.

So why not introduce more yield and right-of-way signs in North America? It would surely speed up the traffic flow. I do realize that most of the roads here have been built in straight patterns, but surely not all roads can be so important that some might have to yield and others can go through. When I look at rather normal-sized cities in the area and see how they cope with rush-hour traffic in comparison to European equivalents, you can see something has been done wrong here.

So in this case, it might be smart to follow this advice. All roads are equal, but some are more equal than others.

In that regard…

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