Monday, September 22, 2014

Road to Simla - thoughtless design

Last week, we took a road trip to Simla. I did not enjoy the scenery on the route. The driver had been told in advance to be conservative. He was. However, my mind was pre-occupied by trying to estimate whether it was safe to overtake.

It is my belief that at no point after the two lane highway started was it ever safe to overtake. Each time a vehicle overtakes another it depends on the following three to varying degrees:
  • Ability to fall back to one's lane in case needed
  • Faith that the other driver will be considerate
  • Plain and simple luck
What did the highway planners expect? Consider an example of speed limits:
  • Cars 40 KM/hour
  • Trucks and buses 25 KM/hour
Unless the traffic is remarkably low, especially of heavy vehicles, it is obvious that there will soon be a convoy of vehicles. Even if we assume that the trucks and buses will not be overtaking each other (I know it is a ludicrous assumption), car drivers will get impatient. The longer a convoy gets, the riskier the overtaking becomes and, worse, more impatient the drivers get.
If there cannot be a well defined 3rd lane for safe overtaking at reasonable intervals(separate locations for uphill and downhill traffic), why not enforce movement of convoys of trucks at fixed time slot with no higher speed limit for cars.