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Old 06-15-2017, 02:12 PM   #1
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2006 22' Interstate
League City , Texas
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Interstate safe driving strategies

I went back several years and there's no thread devoted to general driving safety issues. Crosswind assist - yes. Blind spot tech - yes. TPMS - yes. Staged collisions - yes. But what about general safety ideas and strategies?

I've mentioned on previous threads about what a challenge it is to drive an Interstate solo (without another pair of eyes to help monitor blind spots) on Houston's interstates, including the twenty-six-lane Katy Freeway which looks like this:

I've been driving in Houston for thirty years, and for two thirds to three quarters of that time, the conditions weren't that bad. But the state has fallen so far behind on mobility that the driving has become far more adversarial than the laid-back Texas "howdy" attitude that used to prevail years ago. That plus the fact that this city has inherited a million intranational (intra, with an 'a') immigrants who don't always come from places where a polite "howdy" attitude is common on the roadways.

I'm an industrial worker, and we are programmed to never, ever let a near-miss go without developing a countermeasure. But how to develop countermeasures when hyper-aggressive reckless drivers are constantly threatening your life and property? It's not easy.

But looking at it and trying to simplify the issue, I have noticed that, by far, the number one threat to Interstate driving is intentional cut-offs on the passenger side. They'll see that I'm preparing to make a lane change to the right and they'll shoot the gap, assuming that I'll see them in time to avoid a collision. But very often they're traveling at maximum acceleration from several lanes over, so it's almost impossible to spot them in the mirrors.

I have noticed that some of the big rig drivers around here use these stickers on the backs of their trucks in an attempt to remind people how dangerous it is to aggressively overtake a much-larger vehicle in the inside lane where they can't be seen. I bought a pair for five bucks on Amazon. I'm not planning to attach them permanently to the rear of our Interstate, but I think I'll mount them to sheet magnets and try using them just on those days when I know that I'm going to have to face maximum aggressive traffic.

Any other tips and ideas for general safe driving?


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Old 06-15-2017, 02:27 PM   #2
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I agree with your observation of drivers attempting to pass you as soon as you signal a lane change. The absolute worst at this are BMW owners. I never signal a change of lanes, to pass another vehicle, if one is behind me until after I have turned the wheel in the direction of change. Even at that I have had them accelerate to the point they are straddling the shoulder and abreast the side of my trailer and they have to make a choice. Hit my trailer, hit the guard rail, or slow down. To date it has been slow down.

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Old 06-15-2017, 02:43 PM   #3
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Driving Habits

Ditto on Howies entire post.
I generally go 3 to 5 mph below the prevailing speed of traffic, that way I'm not constantly on the brakes.
If there are 3 lanes, I'm in the middle one.
Two lanes I'm in the right unless passing.
Rarely over 65 though unless unintentional.
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Old 06-15-2017, 03:10 PM   #4
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If there is room to get over I get over, period. Staying in the left lane encourages people to pass on the right. And I can see down the entire length of truck and trailer. There are NO blind spots when the mirrors are set right.

I also learned to not panic every time someone merges. And when I merge, I accelerate to traffic speed.

People are going to pass on the right, it's a fact of life. When RVs do 65 mph in the center lane of a 70mph freeway it's going to happen. Blind spots are the driver's responsibility.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Beginner View Post
Ditto on Howies entire post.
I generally go 3 to 5 mph below the prevailing speed of traffic, that way I'm not constantly on the brakes.
If there are 3 lanes, I'm in the middle one.
Two lanes I'm in the right unless passing.
Rarely over 65 though unless unintentional.
And a positive side benefit is better mpg.
Originally Posted by Countryboy59 View Post
There are NO blind spots when the mirrors are set right.
I agree 100%. It's amazing how a lot of outside mirrors get adjusted so the driver can see the side of the vehicle. Strange as it may seem, I've never had a vehicle come out of the side of mine.
Glass half full or half empty to an engineer is the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

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Old 06-15-2017, 09:06 PM   #6
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Wow Interblog, just wow. I have lived in, or traveled in all the major cities of California and thought we had traffic but I have never seen anything close to the 26 lane Katy Freeway. Thanks for sharing, I don't think I will be visiting Houston anytime soon.
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Old 06-15-2017, 10:55 PM   #7
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Don't loli-gag if you are going to pass a semi truck.

Already logged 12,000 miles this year and biggest threat was truck drivers doing something else besides paying attention to driving. Looking down at an ipad or phone and coming into your lane, your gonna wish you had a louder horn.
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Old 06-16-2017, 05:11 AM   #8
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The challenge in cities like Houston is large-scale lane sheds and lane accretions and the need for rapid lane changes in response to it. It's never as simple as staying in the right lane, or even a right-ish lane, because the right lanes either collectively drop off or the freeway piles up additional lanes instantaneously.

For example, if you're driving westbound on IH-10, at the point where west IH-610 dumps into it, it does so in the form of adding four new lanes. The ramp itself is a four-lane ramp, in other words. So you might have started off happily traveling in the far right lane, but suddenly you are in the 5th lane from the right, and you're going to have to merge back to the right at some point.

Sure, if the mirrors are adjusted correctly, there are no blind spots *in the lane next to you*. But I'm talking about a scenario in which there are at least five mainlanes, not counting major lane accretions such as the example described above, which makes it eight or ten mainlanes at least for a few miles. Your mirrors can't show you everything you need to know about all those other lanes, and who is cutting laterally across them and converging toward you at breakneck speed.

One of the biggest mistakes I see drivers making in Houston is forgetting about the sandwich effect. Continuing that example above, if you're on IH-10 and are involuntarily forced into lane 5 and you wish to switch to lane 4, you can't just use your mirrors to look at lane 4 for clearance. You also have to monitor lanes 1, 2, and 3 to see who is intending to merge left into lane 4 as you are merging right into lane 4. I've seen MANY devastating side collisions occur because of the failure to do those extra three lane checks which are, of course, extremely challenging to get done accurately. Because as soon as the sandwich / side collision happens, both vehicles lose all directional control (with large-scale rollovers often being the result).
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Old 06-16-2017, 06:52 AM   #9
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I do my best to leave the trailer at home on the days I leave late for work...

Basically, I do not travel through such an area, at such a time. When the trailer is attached, the mode is relax, be it for time or direction. I have no issue stopping for an hour or two, to allow everything to dissipate or if the area isn't conducive, I've taken the longest loop road around it. In some areas, I've even removed myself from the mess and gone down to city roads, where there are stop lights and fewer lanes to coordinate and control the craziness.

That is a crazy picture, I've saved it to show others who think they have it bad. Thanks
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Old 06-16-2017, 08:01 AM   #10
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Ok, so here's a fun one to watch out for ....

Your "however many" lane highway necks down to a single lane for construction. You can see what's going on and slow down accordingly. The cars behind you can't work it out (all the signs and flashing lights are just there for show ...). Around they come and note the barrier in the lane they are in (40 feet ahead). Their answer is to pull in in front of you and lock up their brakes.

So much fun, fortunately AS puts *good* brakes on the trailer ... Sometimes I wish for a great big rattle your teeth air horn ...

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Old 06-16-2017, 08:38 AM   #11
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On my 2013 Interstate the rear view camera combined with the lower wide angle mirror gives me a reasonable picture of what is going on behind me. But the bottom line is driving an Interstate is no different than driving anything else. You have to stay alert and defensive to avoid an accident.
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Old 06-16-2017, 09:00 AM   #12
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Perhaps my most effective safety measure is to stay away from roads like IBs picture!
Wow- I'll make sure to never go to Huston.

I take the smaller roads whenever possible, of course that isn't always possible, or time constraints demand the Freeway etc.

I like to travel early in the morning. And I avoid traffic as much as I can, even to taking hours longer. Heck, anytime I go to Seattle now, I only last about 3 minutes and I just want to go home. (Used to be 5 minutes, it is getting shorter). Fortunately the expensive ferries generally make me take the Canal or out around the coast where traffic is much calmer.

I have not done it yet, but I'm going to add another relay so I can turn on my rear-view camera any time I want. But I don't that would help in IBs scenario at all. I can't really think of anything but avoidance.

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Old 06-16-2017, 09:09 AM   #13
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I make it a point to stay away from them, too, Mark...Houston, Atlanta, Portland, Baton Rouge, etc.

Also avoid multi-lane Interstates, unless absolutely required.

Much less stressful, better fuel economy and more scenic on the highways, byways and backroads.

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Old 06-16-2017, 09:47 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Lily&Me View Post
I make it a point to stay away from them, too, Mark...Houston, Atlanta, Portland, Baton Rouge, etc. Also avoid multi-lane Interstates, unless absolutely required. ...
Unfortunately not an option for those of us who live in or near Houston etc.

My strategies: Know my route and lane-changes prior to driving, whenever possible. Change lanes very early. Be willing to miss an exit if I have any doubt. Always assume the other cars will do the worst thing. Drive like I'm swimming in molasses.

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Houston TX
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