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Q: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? ( Answered ,   6 Comments )
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 Subject: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? Category: Miscellaneous Asked by: rloura-ga List Price: \$10.00 Posted: 04 Nov 2002 15:31 PST Expires: 04 Dec 2002 15:31 PST Question ID: 98766
 ```In a multi-lane hiway (e.g. three lanes in each direction) which lane is the safest lane to travel in, statistically. The right lane is slower, but suffers from merge issues, the left lane is fastest, but suffers from 'impatient driver' issues, etc.``` Request for Question Clarification by haversian-ga on 04 Nov 2002 16:57 PST ```How are you defining safest? I know that driving at the speed limit (rather than with the flow of traffic) causes a tiny increase in the liklihood of accidents, but the ones that occur (to you, at least, as the slower driver) are much less deadly - would you call that safer (fewer deaths) or more dangerous (more accidents)?``` Clarification of Question by rloura-ga on 05 Nov 2002 13:54 PST ```Great comments, but these are all just assertions based on 'gut feel' or some sort of rational argument. I can (and have) made all of those before. What I'm looking for is actual statistical data that shows safety data. For instance, I can argue that the right lane is the least safe, as it has merging, has more wear/tear, etc. I can also argue that it is safest because it tenfs to proceed more or less at the speed limit, has less aggressive drivers, is more often traveled, thus has less oil buildup in the tire lanes, etc. What I want is data, not more supposition.```
 Subject: Re: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? Answered By: peggy_bill-ga on 19 Nov 2002 17:01 PST Rated:
 ```Hello, After reading all of these comments, and making a cursory search on the web, I decided to hit the library and see what actual research has been done on this issue. It turns out that the evidence supports NO safety difference between lanes. Now, that could mean that no one has looked at that particular variable. But, in fact, at least two of the following references did look at lane as a safety factor. Neither found it to be significant (Abdel-Aty & Radwan, 2000; Shankar & Mannering, 1998). The variables that were found to be significant in car accidents were traffic volume/density, number of traffic lane and speeding (Sawalha & Sayed, 2001; Abdel-Aty & Radwan, 2000; Aljanahi, Rhodes, & Metcalfe, 1999; Shankar & Mannering, 1998; Johansson, 1996; FRIDSTROM, IFVER, INGEBRIGTSEN, KULMALA, & THOMSEN, 1995 ). One study suggested that your speed in relation to the speed of the cars around you was also a significant safety factor (Shankar & Mannering, 1998) Each article defines ‘safety’ in its own way. I did not make a search to find the mean definition that they used, as that was not part of the question. I realize this may not be the answer that you wanted. But, the data suggests that where safety is concerned, there is in fact, no difference between lanes. But, since you wanted to know the data on the issue, and not a gut reaction, I feel this is the actual answer to your question. Thank you Pba References: Abdel-Aty MA, Radwan AE. 2000. Modeling traffic accident occurrence and involvement. ACCIDENT ANALYSIS AND PREVENTION: 32 (5): 633-642 SEP. Aljanahi AAM, Rhodes AH, Metcalfe AV. 1999. Speed, speed limits and road traffic accidents under free flow conditions. ACCIDENT ANALYSIS AND PREVENTION: 31 (1-2): 161-168 JAN-MAR. FRIDSTROM L, IFVER J, INGEBRIGTSEN S, KULMALA R, THOMSEN LK. 1995. MEASURING THE CONTRIBUTION OF RANDOMNESS, EXPOSURE, WEATHER, AND DAYLIGHT TO THE VARIATION IN ROAD ACCIDENT COUNTS. ACCIDENT ANALYSIS AND PREVENTION: 27 (1): 1-20 FEB. Johansson P. 1996. Speed limitation and motorway casualties: A time series count data regression approach: ACCIDENT ANALYSIS AND PREVENTION: 28 (1): 73-87 JAN. Sawalha Z, Sayed T. 2001. Evaluating safety of urban arterial roadways. JOURNAL OF TRANSPORTATION ENGINEERING-ASCE: 127 (2): 151-158. MAR-APR Shankar V, Mannering F. 1998. Modeling the endogeneity of lane-mean speeds and lane-speed deviations: A structural equations approach. TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH PART A-POLICY AND PRACTICE: 32 (5): 311-322 JUN.```

 Subject: Re: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? From: skermit-ga on 04 Nov 2002 15:42 PST
 ```It's no answer, but I can point you to this disucssion in rec.autos.driving which had a similar debate: http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&frame=right&th=7f00c962a70cbfc8&seekm=a7edil%247ep%241%40news.duke.edu#link1 skermit-ga```
 Subject: Re: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? From: baxendale-ga on 04 Nov 2002 17:02 PST
 ```If it's 3 lanes, the answer is the center lane. If it's 2 lanes, the answer is the left lane. Here's why: in most US states, trucks (18-wheelers) are required to travel in the right lane. So if it's 3 lanes, the middle lane has less merging than the right, and less passing than the left. If it's 2 lanes, the left lane has passing, but far less merging and trucking, which lead to blind spots and poor merging, the #1 cause for non-alcohol related accidents on highways. you can find more info at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: www.nhtsa.gov and a good report at: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/Rpts/2002/Assess01.pdf save your 10 bucks. thanks for the cool question. bax```
 Subject: Re: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? From: wayga-ga on 04 Nov 2002 18:25 PST
 ```Hmmm, Baxendale may or may not be correct in his analysis, but the links provided, while containing much information regarding highway deaths and injuries, do not address the issue the questioner specified regarding the link between lane position and safety. In addition, relating safety to merging, trucking and blind spots, discounts the effect of alcohol which accounts for nearly 15,000 of the almost 41,000 total deaths. I haven't been able to find anything that specifically connects lane position with fatality but would not consider this question answered on the basis of this comment```
 Subject: Re: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? From: neilzero-ga on 05 Nov 2002 06:35 PST
 ```I agree with bauxendale, however if too many people decide to be safer by driving in the middle lanes, they will no longer be safest, so don't expect the word to be widely published. Imprudedent lane changers cause the most minor accidents, perhaps even the the most major accidents. I suspect the slow = right lane is the least safe for the average driver, but exceptions occur. Neil```
 Subject: Re: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? From: alan_dershowitz-ga on 05 Nov 2002 08:11 PST
 ```The reason that the left lane is statistically safer is because the left lane has less traffic, being a passing lane. That probably accounts for less wear on the left lane, meaning that water cannot collect in tire indentations, causing loss of control in inclement weather. If you are interested in safety, avoid the left lane. If you drive consistently in the left lane without the intention to pass anyone, people will want to kill you. That's not safe. In some states, it'v even illegal. It may sound like a joke, but I'm not kidding. I've seen people cause near accidents on the interstate trying to intimidate a car blocking the left lane. Don't do it. It's not polite, and it's not safe.```
 Subject: Re: In a multi-lane hiway, which is the safest to drive in, statistically? From: peggy_bill-ga on 19 Nov 2002 13:02 PST
 ```alan_dershowitz says there is less traffic in the left lane. That isn't true here in Colorado. Everyone moves into the left lane and cruises. They constantly use the technique you describe of sitting on the bumper of the person in front in order to intimidate. I don't know about the rest of the drivers, but I am not happy with this phenomenon. All the statistics I found pointed to lane-changing as the greatest cause of accidents on interstates. If there is no dating on differences between lanes, it may be because there is no safety difference between lanes. pba```