Motorists Are Not Mind Readers

The M1 is a major piece of road infrastructure linking the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast together in South East Queensland. During peak hour it carries a staggering amount of traffic and a surprisingly high amount even in off peak windows due to the arterial nature of the motorway.

When road works need to be carried out on the motorway, if possible they are performed in off peak periods – often quite late into the night as to avoid massive congestion and delays during peak hour. However even late into the night (after 10PM) – the motorway is still servicing a lot of traffic.

To avoid any unnecessary congestion on the roads, not just the M1 – road crews put out signage to inform motorists that there are works or construction happening ahead. In an ideal world, motorists are informed of the work ahead with enough time that they can safely slow down (if required) or merge lanes with minimal impact.

It’ll come as no surprise that when there is inadequate signage on the roads, motorists are unsure what the appropriate action is to take. Case in point, returning home from Brisbane to the Gold Coast on a Friday night after 10PM at night and there was non-construction road works taking place. There was a sign stating that there was road works ahead but it didn’t inform the motorists to merge and it wasn’t until progressing further around a corner that there was a large flashing sign saying merge left. Unfortunately, by that point the traffic had little chance to merge smoothly as the road was quite busy. To the detriment of the motorists, the flashing sign failed to inform them that they were in fact closing two lanes and not just the right most lane. After the traffic had to come to a near halt to merge once, less than 1Km further down the road it ground to a halt again as it merged left.

In the past, I’ve been relatively critical of councils and road works:

I like the fact that road works are taking place, as it normally means that something is going to improve on the roads that I’m travelling on. What I don’t understand is why the people or companies handling traffic control don’t do a better job of informing motorists of what sort of road works are taking place and what the appropriate response should be from the motorists. As an example, local councils will often put out signs stating that there is mowing taking place or that line markings on the roads are being redone.

Is it too much to ask that traffic control inform the drivers on a 4 lane major motorway, that they need to merge two lanes to the left and not just one?