NJ drivers: Please don’t do this if you see someone pulled over
It's a simple fact that New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation. It's something that most from out-of-state need to get used to if they're not accustomed to it.
Not only are our homes and businesses closer to each other when compared to other states, but our roads are also more congested. And it's that latter fact that tends to make drivers from out of state nervous on our highways.
But here's the thing. It's not just out-of-state drivers that cause the issues. Sure, sometimes they don't know how we roll in New Jersey, but oftentimes it's our own citizens who are responsible for our overall problems.
Probably one of the biggest pet peeves of ours occurs from drivers on our freeways and interstates. And when I say freeways, I'm also including the ones we pay tolls on every single day to travel.
This particular example being referenced occurred on I-195, but it really happens on all of our highways. From north to south Jersey, there are drivers guilty of doing this all over The Garden State.
With that said, let's set the scene. Let's say you're about to start a brand new work week after a long and relaxing weekend.
It's a Monday morning and you're getting ready to go to work (for those who still go into the office, that is). You get yourself ready, get the kids off to school, and have a quick bite before getting in the car and taking off.
Let's say your commute is around 30 minutes long. Nothing unreasonable as long as you don't hit any traffic.
Being it's the morning commute, volume is on the heavier side. However, as long as most of the drivers are regular commuters, making good time is usually not a problem.
Even with those who don't typically commute in the mornings to work but are driving anyway, it can be smooth sailing. As long as they keep up with the flow everyone should be moving.
Actually, traffic during the morning commute tends to move faster than the speed limit. It's not unheard of for the flow of traffic to hit 75 to 80 M.P.H. on New Jersey's freeways.
So for now, let's say that's how your commute is going. You're making great time on your way to the office.
You get about 15 minutes into your drive before it all comes to a screeching halt. Well OK, maybe more like a screeching crawl.
So now you went from making great time to barely moving. Eventually, the flow starts to pick up again, but slowly.
And the drive remains slow for about a mile or so. Remember, this example being cited happened on I-195 so it was only two lanes in each direction and not near the I-295 interchange where it's three lanes each way.
So after moving slowly for a little while, you begin to notice something up ahead. You begin to see flashing lights.
So now you might be thinking that perhaps there was an accident causing all of this traffic. Or maybe some sort of roadwork is going on.
At the moment it's hard to tell. But as you get closer, you start to have a better picture of what's going on.
It's a grassy median at this portion of the interstate, so it's easy to see across on the opposing side. So for the cars stuck in slow traffic going westbound, seeing the other side of the road is not that difficult.
And it soon becomes obvious that those flashing lights are on the other side of the highway. At least two police cars were present on the right shoulder in the opposing direction.
And what was the ultimate problem causing this slowdown? Nothing more than someone getting pulled over.
No road work and no accidents were present. It was something that simply appeared to be a routine traffic stop with two police cars right behind it.
And how can you tell that this was the cause of the delay? Because the moment you pass this spot, the flow is moving once again at or above the posted speed limit.
Yes, we should always slow down and move over when seeing flashing lights, no question there. Even if the activity is occurring on the opposing side, it's wise to drive by cautiously.
With that said, some drivers get a little too extreme and come to a very slow crawl when passing someone pulled over. So much so in fact, that it causes a traffic backup of about a good mile as a result.
And when it's on the opposite side of the highway, there's no reason for that. As mentioned earlier, be alert and drive by the spot with caution, but don't almost come grinding to a halt.
When that happens, it can have a major domino effect, especially during rush hour. And that rubbernecking of just one or two people can be enough to delay everyone else's day trying to get through the same area.
So if you're someone who does this, please be aware of how your actions can actually cause more problems on the freeway that otherwise didn't need to exist.
Nobody's saying not to be cautious but rather use common sense. If the emergency is happening on your side of the highway, then yes, move over and slow down while passing the affected area.
And use good judgment to determine how much you should slow down. If it's an accident that requires a near crawl, then absolutely do that. But if it's a routine pullover, there's no need to be a spectator.
Especially if it's on the other side of the road. A simple slowdown might be all that's necessary instead of a heavy brake check.
Oftentimes those heavy brake checks just to see what's going on make the entire situation much worse. So if you see a pullover on the opposite side, please keep moving, but pass the area with care.
Examples why 440/287 can be both potentially dangerous, and unnecessarily confusing
The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.