You’re cruising along the expressway at a steady 110 km/h, and suddenly another car merges into your lane, at 70 km/h. What happens next? You will definitely need to slow down to match the speed of the car ahead.
This scenario is almost a daily occurrence on our roads. And this issue is prevalent because most road users are unaware of their traffic speed differential. Traffic speed differential is basically the difference of your own vehicle’s speed versus the speed of moving traffic.
When the speed differential is too great, it can become a potentially dangerous situation. The moving traffic might not be able to slow down enough or in time to match a merging vehicle’s speed, and this causes ‘traffic discomfort’ as one vehicle slows down, it forces the traffic behind to also slow down, sometimes very drastically. This is how pile-up accidents happen.
But what can be done about this? Put it simply, one must be aware of their own travelling speed versus moving traffic, and make adjustments accordingly. For instance, I’m merging into the highway at 60 km/h, and traffic is moving at 100km/h, I will need to accelerate at the on-ramp and match the current traffic speed, as quickly as possible. From my observation of driving habits, most road users seem are unwilling or slow to do this. This must be emphasized; accelerate swiftly, and once you’ve matched the traffic speed, you can then ease off and cruise at that speed.
By matching the speed on moving traffic, you increase the safety levels for both yourself and other road users as well. This is because the lane-merging process has become seamless and current traffic does not have to slow down for the merger. As a result, ‘traffic discomfort’ is reduced or eliminated, and traffic flow is smooth. Of course, every lane will have varying speeds and therefore adjustments are made on the fly.
Go ahead, try it for yourself, and see the difference it makes to your commute. If more people are aware of their speed differential, the roads will be a much safer and pleasant place.