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Old 4th September 2013, 18:16   #1
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Default Heavy Traffic: Left lane goes fastest, Right lane moves slowest

MODS: Please merge this with any other thread that speaks of the exact same theme. I could not find one , hence the post...


Ever noticed that in many Indian cities (I speak from experience of observations) in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and several other cities, that in bumper to bumper traffic:

The lanes on the left (officially the slowest) move more quickly than the lanes on the right (officially the quickest)...


If you have not observed this phenomenon, I urge you to observe on your next commute - specially before those points where the road is choked (i.e. width reduces).

First Question: Do you Agree with this observation? Can you cite instances where you saw the opposite (remember the conditions - bumper-to-bumper traffic in an Indian city)

Second Question: What could be the possible reasons for this ?



I had a few in mind - thought to write them down:

1) Buses normally occupy the left lanes because the stops are on the left side. Other vehicles, don't like being positioned behind a bus, hence they move over to the 'right' lane - thus overcrowding it.

2) Everyone wants to pass everyone else, so everyone wants to get on the right side - thus overcrowding it.

3) On city 'highways', exits are on the left side, and everyone who needs to exit believes that the quickest way to exit is by jumping from the right lane to the exit in a matter of 10 meters. Woe betide anyone who thought that was 'dangerous driving'! Hence the left lane continues as-is , while the right lanes and the middle lanes are obstructed by vehicles moving cross-wise - waiting for the opportune gap in left lane traffic


Third Question: What are some of the other reasons for this conundrum?


Fourth Question:What measures are needed (and by whom) to correct this situation?
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Old 4th September 2013, 19:11   #2
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

From what I observe, its usually the autorickshaws and cars/minitrucks that stick to the right lane.

Reason: the left lane usually have a lot of parked vehicles and to maneuver these obstacles is a pain, especially for an inexperienced or lazy driver. Vehicles with good maneuverability tend to slip through these gaps and move faster.

autorickshaw wallas are absolutely bored to be bothered about anyone else. Sometimes I feel its a ploy where they frustrate everyone else on the road to an extent where you are forced to leave your vehicles at home and start using their services.
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Old 4th September 2013, 20:48   #3
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

One more observation is that the right lane is hogged often even on weekends when traffic is moving smoothly. Reason being new drivers or those distracted (conversations with passengers or on the phone etc etc) stick to the right hand lane since they only have to bother about traffic on the left since right usually has a median.

I notice mostly Altos near my area hogging the right lane. I'm sure other cars do it too and this is only my observation but 9/10 times I overtake from the left because experiences have taught me a person doing 40 km/h on the right most lane is not going to give way.

Edit : In bumper to bumper traffic I'd rather stick to the right most lane because I fear bikers and their tendency to squeeze in to non existing gaps and in the process colliding with the side view mirrors.

Last edited by AbhishekB86 : 4th September 2013 at 20:50.
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Old 4th September 2013, 20:55   #4
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

^^Exactly, On my way back from office today, on old airport road came across a guy driving a new Indica on the right most lane. Since the traffic was sparse on that stretch, I expected the guy to be doing at least 40-50kmph, nope this guy was at 20kmph. For once I thought he could be on the phone, but while overtaking realized that he was a new driver taking it easy.
When I learnt driving, I was told to keep to the left, the driving school vehicles keep to the left and then why do these newcomers stick to the right lane?
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Old 4th September 2013, 22:57   #5
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Highways:

The right lane has a divider. If you are stuck behind a vehicle, it means you are stuck there forever.

The left lane doesn't have a divider, and generally has a non-asphalted section wide enough for a cars/bikes to drive on. So the left lane moves faster.

In the City:

Many vehicles get on the right lane because they intend to take a right turn ahead. But the "lead vehicle" is unable to take a turn, because of the vehicles coming from the opposite direction. So while the vehicles wait to take a right turn, those who don't intend to make a turn also end up waiting.

This issue is not there for vehicles (on the left lane) who intend to take a left turn. So traffic on the left lane moves faster.
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Old 4th September 2013, 23:48   #6
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Quote:
Originally Posted by sansvk View Post
When I learnt driving, I was told to keep to the left, the driving school vehicles keep to the left and then why do these newcomers stick to the right lane?
I see some driving school cars in the right most lane or those who have 'L' stuck on their car stick on the right lane too. This could be because the right lane will not have stationary buses/stalled cars etc. For a learner it is a headache to keep changing lanes specially when the obstruction is unexpected. Also others cars are not sensitive to learners. When I was learning driving it used to make me sweat because of the way people treated me on the road.
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Old 5th September 2013, 00:06   #7
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Default

A few of my own observations:

If an auto is hogging the right lane in a multi-lane carriageway, it means the driver is going long distance. These are the best of the lot since they know where they are going and will seldom do random/surprise moves.

Out of the other autos, those which are occupied will be in the middle to left lane, and will get in your way frequently as they negotiate the various obstacles in their path. Most dangerous.

The empty autos usually stay out of the main traffic when hunting for fare. However where the road is barely two lanes wide, these will stop in their tracks to pick up passengers.

After I learnt to drive, I used to stick to the middle lane. However it has its own disadvantages. The biggest is people overtake you from both sides. If you are in the leftmost lane, you will have to cut across someone else's path so often you find it easier to change lanes and drive in the right lane. Also in the right lane you only have to watch one side.
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Old 5th September 2013, 07:26   #8
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Good topic indeed.

My few observation:
1) The car drivers on right lane think that they are the fastest among world and how others can overtake me.
2) Another issue is of EGO - let's consider if someone in ALTO overtakes scorpio or innova esspecially then they will overtake ALTO and drive slOw in front of him that too in right lane.
3) As mentioned above - due to right turn ahead right lane becomes slow but why to keep your vehicle on right lane even if you don't want to take right turn.
4) On the 4 lane national and state highway you will find all the trucks on right lane may be because sometimes roads are patchy or narrowwed from left for some ongoing work and its difficult to change lane for heavy vehcles. So they try to stick to right labe.
5) Sometimes even if truck or other car wants to move from right to left lane (of course after someone reminding them by flashing or honking...) Other vehicles on left which going fast just don't allow them to move to left.

Let's hope that everyone will think of others which will help everyone including them. :-)

Cheers !
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Old 5th September 2013, 09:42   #9
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Haha, this reminds me of all the situations i end up facing everyday on my commute to work. This is where one ends up thinking if getting a car is a bane.

1. Major problems are because some people cannot make up their minds on where to turn or aren't familiar with the area and put up a circus show in the middle of the road.
2. Impatient drivers cut lanes wherever possible and end up slowing down for someone else and end up hapazardly between the two lanes.
3. Road conditions as well, considering how potholed some roads are, everyone has to deviate to the extremes or the center of the road which in turn causes confusion and chaos on the road and ultimately, slowdowns.
p.s: add those pesky bikers who love to squeeze in between every gap possible.
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Old 5th September 2013, 11:22   #10
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

I think you are just experiencing Murphy's law:
The queue that you are in, is the slowest and this doesn't change even if you switch lanes :-)
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Old 5th September 2013, 11:24   #11
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Good observation.

In my opinion, most of the drivers like to keep to the right lane since the divider offers some amount of security and they do not have to bother about traffic on the right. Although in our cities (specially Pune) people tend to jump over the dividers even if they are thigh high. I frequently see saree clad ladies jumping over the divider to appear suddenly in front of the vehicles in the right lane and surprising them.

On the other hand, I have also seen the right lane move quicker than the left due to :

1. Vehicle parking on the road
2. Local buses / school buses / rickshaws / private cars stopping on the left side to pick up or drop passengers.
3. In case there is a junction, the vehicles coming from the left move so far ahead into the junction that the left lane is reduced to half its size.

Although in my case its always murphy's law - the lane next to me will always move faster.
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Old 5th September 2013, 12:14   #12
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Here all signals are considered to have a free left turn regardless of what the lights say. Even cops encourage you to take the free left to optimise vehicular movement

I think this is the main reason why vehicles move faster in the left lane than the right.

To add spice to the mix, bikes usually move to the left lane and weave their way in and out of vehicles. this usually means that the same space is better 'filled' in the left lane than the right. So it does mean that the traffic behind moves faster and may reach/ cross the green light before their 'competitors' in the right lane

Last edited by selfdrive : 5th September 2013 at 12:17.
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Old 5th September 2013, 13:26   #13
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Smile Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Quote:
Originally Posted by joybhowmik View Post

The lanes on the left (officially the slowest) move more quickly than the lanes on the right (officially the quickest)...

First Question: Do you Agree with this observation? Can you cite instances where you saw the opposite (remember the conditions - bumper-to-bumper traffic in an Indian city)

Second Question: What could be the possible reasons for this ?
My observations have been mixed depending on circumstances. If there is a right turn ahead, then the right lane will be clogged resulting in 'faster' B2B traffic from the left. In any case, buses and parked vehicles will ensure that the left lane is slower.

My policy is: If there is a right turn ahead, then I stick to the left. If there is none, then I prefer sticking to the right. But I usually try to find a 'middle' lane because that is the quickest.

And who says that the rightmost lane is the fastest and the leftmost the slowest? Ask any driver, I am sure they would not know it.

The above is based on my driving experience in Kolkata.

Last edited by aroop : 5th September 2013 at 13:29.
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Old 5th September 2013, 13:26   #14
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

My only question here is this - In cities with narrow roads, e.g., Bangalore, where is the question of a lane ?

More often than not, I have yellow board and white board vehicles honking vehemently behind me, when I am riding my motorcycle right next to the footpath.

So, I think this question may not apply to Bangalore; a city where most roads do not have the concept of a lane.

Shyam
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Old 5th September 2013, 13:41   #15
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Default Re: In Heavy traffic: Slowest lane goes fastest and fastest lane goes slowest in Indi

Bangalore should be officially renamed 'Bottleneck'. I've seen more points where multi-lane roads merge into a two-lane road in Bangalore than anywhere else I've driven/traveled in India.

A lot of times, one just struggles to hold onto the tarmac (subject to tarmac's existence, of course), forget a lane.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 5th September 2013 at 13:42.
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