One more lane will fix it – a meme, until it actually does

Typically when a highway widening project to add more lanes is announced, public transport advocates rush to come forward to criticise it, saying adding lanes are pointless.

Inevitably there will be a flurry of “one more lane will fix it” memes images posted over social media everywhere until they forget about it and go about poking fun at the next flavour of the week.

However, there are still significant stretches of interstate highways in Malaysia that are still two lanes, and if you’ve driven on these sections before and gotten stuck behind a scenario where a turtle is attempting to overtake a slug with two huge trailers, you’ll be wishing for a third lane instead.

In areas with high traffic volume especially with slow-moving heavy vehicles in hilly areas, two-lane highways can become congested easily, leading to delays and traffic jams. Adding an extra lane helps distribute traffic more evenly and can improve the flow of vehicles, reducing congestion and travel times.

Improved Safety

Three-lane highways also offer improved safety compared to two-lane highways. The extra lane allows for greater separation between vehicles, reducing the likelihood of collisions and providing more space for drivers to maneuver. The increased space also allows for easier lane changes, reducing the risk of accidents caused by sudden maneuvers.

Lane Differentiation

Three lanes also provide more flexibility for traffic management. With three lanes, it becomes possible to designate a specific lane for slower-moving vehicles, such as trucks or vehicles entering/exiting the highway, while leaving the other lanes for regular traffic.

This separation helps maintain a smoother flow of vehicles and reduces the chances of accidents caused by speed differentials.

Overtaking and Merge Zones

Having three lanes facilitates safer overtaking maneuvers. The additional lane provides a dedicated space for vehicles to pass slower-moving traffic, reducing the need for risky maneuvers that can endanger both drivers and passengers.

Additionally, merge zones at on-ramps and off-ramps become more manageable with three lanes, as vehicles have an extra lane to merge into or exit from, reducing congestion and potential conflicts.

Emergency Situations

In the event of an accident or breakdown, three lanes offer more space for emergency vehicles and roadside assistance to operate efficiently without significantly disrupting the flow of traffic. This can improve response times and minimize the impact on overall highway operations.

Imagine a two-lane highway with one lane completely blocked due to a trailer that has broken down. How long will the resulting jam be?

Public transport advocates often emphasize the need for a holistic approach that includes investment in public transportation infrastructure, promotion of sustainable modes of transportation, and consideration of long-term environmental impacts.

However, balancing the needs of both private vehicles and public transportation is crucial for creating a comprehensive and efficient transportation network.

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