Mar 19 2010

More left or more right?

The other day I was sitting in the car and as I was about to make a right turn, I began to wonder: consider a year worth of driving. Bike, motorcycle and car. At the end of the year, do you think you made more right turns or more left turns? If you pick one or the other, why? And: do you think the result would be different in countries where people drive on the left side of the road?

I’m torn.

4 Responses to “More left or more right?”

  • garret Says:

    I do rights more than lefts. UPS delivery has the same philosophy: Left turns usually require a stop, or a red light, and not only slow you down but expose you to potential accidents because you’re crossing a line of traffic. Even when distance is calculated in (shorter distance for a left, longer for a right), the right comes out more economically for them. I think that was the gist of the UPS policy. Not sure where I read that, but if you do a Google you’ll find the actual information about it (rather than my flawed memory).

  • Tobias Says:

    I found the UPS story – interesting. Are you really making an conscious effort to take town in a right circle? I’m asking, because most often I take the same route on the way in and out and then all turns cancel each other out.

  • garret Says:

    I actually do intentially bias towards rights, and find it saves me time and effort.

    My best example is this: I come in from Eldorado, drive to the PO on Pacheco. That requires me to head north on 285/St Francis, to the Siringo light. I do a left there (no other choice without significantly increasing mileage). That’s the slowest part of my drive, because the left turn light is short, and you end up with folks who don’t understand that they can still turn left if the main light is green. (Another detriment of waiting for lefts). After turning on Siringo, I make an immediate left onto Pacheco, and then in to the post office parking lot.

    The real time saving is leaving the PO. The shorter route is to turn left out of the PO, and then turn left from Pacheco onto Siringo. On a normal day, there’s enough traffic on Pacheco to make a left turn from the parking lot to the road a slow proposition. Cars seem well-timed to prevent you from entering traffic. You have PO trucks exiting wildly on your right. Worst still, the left turn from Pacheco to Siringo is on a downhill, with unpredictable traffic from both directions because of short sightlines and right-turn cars that further block vision. You end up with tentative people in that left-turn lane, you’ll be there for a half-hour. The risk of accident is extremely high; the intersection is peppered with glass, rubber, plastic and various car parts.

    Instead, I purposely, intentionally turn right onto Pacheco, to the light at Pacheco and St. Mike’s, turn right again onto St. Mikes, and then to the on-ramp to St. Francis.

    Much faster, less exposure to potential accidents. Does it burn more gas? I don’t think so, because the waits at Pacheco/Siringo tend to be long, and you really have to accelerate quickly to enter traffic. I think the extra distance balances out. You also have to really step on it to enter traffic from Siringo to St. Francis. The right turn is undirected there, so that’s an advantage, but as we all well know, St. Francis can be really stacked with traffic depending on time. The undirected on-ramp from St Mikes to St. Francis is smoother, though the new three lane St Francis makes the merge more precarious (less visibility) … I’d argue that using St Mikes gives me *two* options. If St. Francis looks packed, I can just continue straight on St. Mikes and reach I-25 at Old Pecos Trail. More options, during busy times, is always better.

    This answer sounds like I overanalyze everything, but this thought takes all of a five second ‘think.’ My spatial memory is exacting and precise. Take me somewhere once, I’ll never forget how to get there, generally. My major thought is to cast accident risk and time against what might be greater distance.

    Make sense? Works for me, anyway.

  • garret Says:

    Oops, mistake first paragraph. I turn *right* onto Pacheco from Siringo. Thinking ahead of myself.

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