back to article Perhaps middle-aged blokes SHOULDN'T try 34-hour-long road trips

As the result of a so far successful, but probably not worth it, piece of tax avoidance I can tell you three things. First, something that should be blindingly obvious: middle-aged men can't do long road trips with quite the ease that their younger selves could. The second is not so much to tell you but ask you: what's the …

  1. johnaaronrose

    Just one small point, Tim. Most of France still uses people at the tolls.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Most tolls have lanes for credit cards, lanes for vehicles with badges, and a few lanes with real people who will take cash.

      The really stupid thing is that you have to pay for a badge, despite them reducing the staffing costs. Any sensible country would offer a toll discount for badge users as an incentive, but not France.

      1. Andy 66

        badge is free

        You pay for the badge, but not in the way you presented it - the badge is free and if you don't use it, you pay nothing. The month you use it, you are charged €2 for that month (plus the toll fees you pass through of course).

        If you've ever travelled les autoroutes on a black weekend (major holiday times), you'd be like me and happily pay the €2 for that month - cuts at least 15 minutes off your waiting time at each major toll - just sail through the toll at 30km/h while the others join the 1-2km queues.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: badge is free

          If you've ever travelled les autoroutes on a black weekend (major holiday times),

          I avoid those Saturdays like the plague, last weekend they broke records with over 950km of total jams on the network! You don't save any time if you can't get close enough to the toll to get into a badge-only lane!

          Agreed it's worth having the badge for convenience, I have two, but it still makes little sense to charge extra to use the badge, given that both users and operators win when the badges are used.

        2. Mike Taylor

          Re: badge is free

          Oh, that is good to know. I shall see about getting one. Know if the Italian system works like that too?

      2. Uffish

        The reason for French motorwaybadges...

        ... is speed through the toll gates, mostly there is no queue and no waiting for the driver in front to find his credit card/cash and wait for a receipt.

        The new Dartford crossing toll system in the UK forced me into a tedious, slow and utterly stupid process involving a long detour to a village shop, a long wait while the shopkeeper found the right instructions for the terminal and a three pound fee instead of the two pound fee I was expecting. What are this government’s economists smoking/sniffing?

        1. Chemist

          Re: The reason for French motorwaybadges...

          "The new Dartford crossing toll system in the UK forced me into a tedious, slow and utterly stupid process involving a long detour to a village shop, a long wait while the shopkeeper found the right instructions for the terminal and a three pound fee instead of the two pound fee I was expecting. What are this government’s economists smoking/sniffing?"

          What ? You can either pay one-off on-line (before or after the event) or have an account for frequent use when it becomes similar to the telepeage scheme but with different vehicle recognition mechanism and with a useful discount

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    A few things

    1. You'd have to be stupid* to drive for 34 hours with only a one hour nap.

    2. You'd have to be stupid* to drive for 34 hours to dodge tax

    3. There are no slow/fast lanes

    *Or a sociopath

    1. Mike Bell

      Re: A few things

      There are no slow/fast lanes

      Yeah, right. I suppose that's why it's possible for a slow vehicle to overtake a fast one, is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A few things

        You don't use a fast lane to overtake, you use an overtaking lane...

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Mushroom

          Re: A few things

          Yes. The failure to be a pedantic wanker at all times is the cause of most accidents.

        2. Fungus Bob Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: You don't use a fast lane to overtake, you use an overtaking lane...

          You use neither a fast lane nor an overtaking lane, you use a fast vehicle to overtake.

    2. Craigness

      Re: A few things

      2. You'd have to be stupid* to drive for 34 hours to dodge tax

      You'd have to be stupid to think this! To normal people, it depends on how much tax you'd be liable for if you didn't drive. Everybody does things to save time, effort or money, and to achieve a balance between the three, and that's universally accepted as a good thing. So to call out someone because they money they're saving is imposed by a government is stupid.

      As a hypothetical, what if there were 2 roads and one had a compulsory vehicle check which took 1 hour. The trip would be 2 hours on this road, because of the check, and 1.5 hours on the other road. You would save time by dodging the vehicle check, and it's only the vehicle check that makes the slow road the better option. This is the same decision as before, but it's about time rather than money, and the state benefits from having compliant vehicles rather than having money to spend. The logical extension of your belief is that it would be stupid to save time.

      This is why people support Jeremy Corbyn.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: A few things

        There is another option - no saving on Earth is enough to compensate sharing the road with Germans driving along the Autobahn in Audis approaching light speed or Southern Europeans who are taught your breaking distance is the space where they put their car after overtaking you while someone else tailgates you.

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: A few things

        "2. You'd have to be stupid* to drive for 34 hours to dodge tax"

        "You'd have to be stupid to think this!"

        Stupid people do stupid things. I heard someone say they drive to the local (to me) shops because the Milk is cheaper - did I mention it's a 45 minute drive from their place?!

        Their defence was, "That's not the only stuff we get". What *I* don't get, is how they justify in their heads their time, fuel and maintenance costs to save mere bucks.

        1. micheal

          Re: A few things

          I heard someone say they drive to the local (to me) shops because the Milk is cheaper - did I mention it's a 45 minute drive from their place?!

          Yes, my wife's grandfather used to drive from Archway to Haringay Sainsbury's petrol station to save 1p a gallon on fuel for his rover 213, total savings about 6p per fill (he didn't shop at Sains, only Jones Brothers in Holloway)

          On a shopping Saturday the journey took him roughly an hour each way

      3. PNGuinn
        FAIL

        This is why people support Jeremy Corbyn.

        Or that they're stupid.

        Especially the tories who wasted a few quid to risk repeating the livingstone effect.

    3. Tim Worstal

      Re: A few things

      "*Or a sociopath"

      You've not read much of my stuff then?

    4. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Re: A few things

      Serving n a branch of the military in the early 80s and based in the south of England, it was not unknown for four people to get into a car late friday and drive for two days skiing (rotating drivers) in order to be back in time (just) for parade on the monday morning. One does silly things occasionally.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A few things

      "3. There are no slow/fast lanes

      Yes there are in the context Tim was talking about. There lanes on hill climbs in the UK specifically marked as "Slow Vehicle Lane" Or whatever the wording is they use.

      A171 North of Scarborough, just checked on StreetView and it's marked "Crawler Lane".

      A57 going SE from the A1 junction, is signed "Crawler Lane Ahead"

      Crawler lanes are generally marked so the slow traffic merges into the "normal" lane.

      Motorways tend to simply sign an increase in number of lanes the sign the decrease at the end of the wider stretch with lane 3 merging back to lane 2

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A few things

      @ Mahatma Coat

      I don't know what your time is worth, but the figures mentioned are €30,000 for a 5.7 litre car. The two cars in my driveway are 4.5 litre twin turbo and a 7.6 litre normally aspirated. Disappointed as I am to have to say this, 34 hours of my time is worth far, far less than €30,000 at any hourly contract rate I can aspire to charging in my wettest wet dreams.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A few things

        " the figures mentioned are €30,000 for a 5.7 litre car."

        If you're living in a country (as in have been there more than 1 year) then trying the 6 month trick will land you in a world of serious hurt with the tax (and other) authorities - including a conviction for driving without insurance in the UK if you get caught.

        The wording of that exemption is quite tight and only applies to residents of another country whilst travelling, people temporarily resident elsewhere (for less than a year), or those who are moving - to allow them enough time to get the vehicle registered under the new regime.

      2. Bloakey1

        Re: A few things

        "I don't know what your time is worth, but the figures mentioned are €30,000 for a 5.7 litre car. The two cars in my driveway are 4.5 litre twin turbo and a 7.6 litre normally aspirated. Disappointed as I am to have to say this, 34 hours of my time is worth far, far less than €30,000 at any hourly contract rate I can aspire to charging in my wettest wet dreams."

        Agreed. I live in the aforementionade country and it is a right pain in the you know what. I have four cars and it would cost me a lot to register them all. One of them that I did look at registering (called matriculating here) cost 5 grand to buy and would cost 24,000 to register.

        It is madness and they have been taken to various European courts over the matter and have lost every time. It is however more financially beneficial to pay the subsequent fine and then keep on fleecing the people with foreign cars.

    7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: A few things

      "3. There are no slow/fast lanes"

      Sorry, speaking as a roadie, what Tim was described *are* slow/fast lanes. In UK road design the slow lane up a hill is called the crawler lane. Its specifically the lane for slow traffic to take to allow faster traffic to overtake it in the passing lane.

      As to the merging, working from engineering and physics basics, you would have the faster traffic merging into the slower traffic, as otherwise you are stating that the slow traffic that is in the slow lane because it cannot go any faster is required to break the laws of physics and actually go faster to merge with the faster traffic when you've already stated that it's there because it can't go faster.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: A few things

        @Richard or racing on a motorbike to catch the ferry Friday night (7pm sailing from Holland was JUST about doable assuming they still let you check in at 6.30 on the dot on a GPZ900 from Paderborn at the drop of 16:00 parade. You needed to be fully wound out on the A2 though....

        German roads were quite efficient even back in the early 90's and the dutch ones weren't too bad (but harder to "move rapidly" on)

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: A few things

        As to the merging, working from engineering and physics basics, you would have the faster traffic merging into the slower traffic, as otherwise you are stating that the slow traffic that is in the slow lane because it cannot go any faster is required to break the laws of physics

        It shouldn't matter which lane merges across if people are merging correctly. The correct way to do it is to zip merge (merge in turn) at the point the lanes meet, having offset the vehicles on the run up to that point.

        As you say, both lanes will be doing the same reduced speed immediately after the merge, so there should be no need for excessive braking.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: A few things

          > It shouldn't matter which lane merges across if people are merging correctly.

          Yes, zip merging is good - but try getting British drivers to do that !

          Thje other way of looking at it is that these slow vehicles are generally the biggest - so regardless of what's marked, they have "right of weight".

          (for the hard of understanding, that's a pun on "right of way")

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: A few things

            Yes, zip merging is good - but try getting British drivers to do that !

            Here in the US we're accidentally conducting a long-term study on zip (or "zipper") merging. Some states have implemented it; most haven't.

            It's particularly noticeable in construction zones where one or more lanes are closed.

            In states that encourage ("require", though enforcement is probably rare) zip merging, most people seem to report that it generally works well; drivers seem to understand the concept even if they haven't seen it before.

            In other places, merging is a huge mess. Last summer we were stuck for half an hour in an insane jam on I-70 near Terre Haute until we finally reached an exit and could cut over to an alternate route, and it was all caused by poor merging behavior at a construction zone a few miles up the road.

            And all it appears to take are a few signs telling people to 1) use all traffic lanes up until the merge, and 2) alternate lanes when merging, to get most people to zip-merge properly. And when most people are doing it, drivers unfamiliar with the process usually get the idea, and the occasional bastard who doesn't wait his turn won't cause so much disruption or get very much of an advantage (so there's less incentive to renege).

      3. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: A few things

        "Sorry, speaking as a roadie, what Tim was described *are* slow/fast lanes. In UK road design the slow lane up a hill is called the crawler lane. Its specifically the lane for slow traffic to take to allow faster traffic to overtake it in the passing lane."

        But not universal. I can think of one hill climb in Staffordshire where the road hits the hill, and a second uphill lane is provided. In order to use it you have to cross a white-dashed line. At the top, the lane merges back into the "slow lane" and you will cross the dashed line on your way back across. The slower vehicle does not have to make any sort of adjustment or actively move into a "slow lane".

        It effectively a short stretch of dual carriageway (without central reservation), and is as very much constitutes an overtaking lane, not a "fast lane". Having overtaken a truck you WILL merge back in, or else go head-to-head with oncoming traffic when the middle lane disappears!

    8. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: A few things

      +1

      I do a longer road trip to dodge crazy summer airfares and ship some accumulated dross from the attic to my summer house 1600 miles away on an annual basis.

      Rule no 1. Avoid France.

      Rule no 2. If in doubt see rule No 1.

      France is by far the worst country in Europe to travel through. Idiotic junction layout, nobody following rules, horrid tolled motorways, farmers and ferry workers burning barricades of tires across the road, migrants trying to unbolt your tailgate and get in even when you are moving, you name it.

      Rule 3. Plan your trip from jacuzzi to jacuzzi.

      I would have expected a person who lives in the country where Carlovy Vary and Teplice are located to have groked that one out.

      Rule 4. Never drive more than 8h a day except on the last lap.

      The winning formula is: "less than 8h drive, dad in the jacuzzi, kids on the water slide". There are plenty of spas in Europe and _ANY_ route can be altered slightly to follow the winning formula.

      In any case, the original "tax dodge math" is wrong. The legal side of things is:

      1. You can have a car from a foreign country locally for 6 months. This is now enforced. The car toll and viniette enforcement cameras in all Eu countries now have a secondary feed and cars that are in for more than 6 months without re-registration show up on police database.

      2. You cannot realistically have it for more than 3. The insurance treaty says 3 months, not 6 and nobody will give you an insurance for 6 months abroad unless your car is a commercial (f.e. truck). So after the 3rd month you are uninsured and can be pulled over and your car impounded. The workaround is to get the temporary insurance used in the import process locally. This may sometimes cover you for an additional month, but pulling that to full 6 months is a very tall order. It is also a royal PITA (I have imported a car into a country with penile extender restrictions similar to Portugal so I know that first hand).

      1. Chemist

        Re: A few things

        "and nobody will give you an insurance for 6 months abroad "

        Nonsense. My motorhome has exactly that and it's the standard policy.

        "France is by far the worst country in Europe to travel through. Idiotic junction layout, nobody following rules, horrid tolled motorways"

        Many european countries have tolls, junctions are fairly standard, autoroutes although having tolls are mostly empty except at peak season. I drove back from Switzerland on 29/30th July. On the A26 between Troyes and the A4 (~60 miles) at morning peak period I saw ~20 cars/trucks on 'my' side of the motorway, on the A26 towards Calais things got busier with maybe 3 vehicles a mile density.

        I admit the farmers, ferry workers and indeed migrants are a nuisance but the only delay on the journey was the UK Border Force at Calais using just 3 booths out of ~12 so what little traffic there was had to queue for 30 mins.

      2. ravenviz
        Trollface

        Re: A few things

        When driving my camper van in Europe I just tootle along at 60 and no-one bothers me. As long as I remember to allow lorries in from the right at a motorway junction

        If I do have the misfortune to have to overtake two lorries in two lanes, going up a hill, I'm very thankful as people flash their lights into my tailgate, the added photon pressure makes me go just that little bit faster.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A few things

          Down vote for blocking those wanting to pass, a pet peeve. Let'em by, let traffic flow, that is safe.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: A few things

        I do a longer road trip to dodge crazy summer airfares and ship some accumulated dross from the attic to my summer house 1600 miles away on an annual basis.

        Your summer house is 1600 miles from your main house? That's insane. Mine is only 1500 miles, which is much more reasonable.

        Seriously, I have to say that my wife and I have also chosen to make that drive rather than fly for 8 of the past 9 years. Air travel is just a dreadful experience these days, even if you want to pay unholy sums to upgrade to the less-awful seating. Waiting in airports, boarding and "deplaning", engine noise... It makes 23 hours in a car seem quite pleasant by comparison.

        And driving lets us take a lot more stuff - including comfortable lawn chairs, a grill, a healthy collection of tools, various craft materials, plenty of books, etc. And when we arrive, we have our own, nice car, not some wretched fleet vehicle from a rental company.

        Never drive more than 8h a day except on the last lap

        We generally make the last day's drive the shortest, actually. That gives us plenty of time after arriving to unpack, shop for groceries, and generally settle in. We generally do about 8 1/2 hours the first two days, then 6 on the last. (The durations are somewhat constrained by available hotels; part of our drive takes us through the Oklahoma panhandle and similarly sparse areas.)

    9. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: A few things

      2. You'd have to be stupid* to drive for 34 hours to dodge tax

      On the face of it, Tim is going about this wrong. If he purely wants a large engined car for power output, then he'd be better off gaming the system by purchasing something tunable but small engined, such as an EVO or WRX/STi. They come with 2 or 2.5 litre engines, which can be modified to output about 400 BHP, which is enough to match a typical yank tank.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: A few things

        To be fair, you don't know what he wants - practicality isn't always the goal.

        My (old) Jag has a 4 litre engine, it's BHP is the same as my friends sporty 2 litre Mazda. His is a nice car, but I much prefer mine. His beats mine on every measure of practicality ( 5 doors hatchback vs 2 door coupe, folding rear seats vs not, fuel economy, etc ), but I'd still rather have mine.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: A few things

        "They come with 2 or 2.5 litre engines, which can be modified to output about 400 BHP, which is enough to match a typical yank tank."

        I think you're missing the point of a large unstressed engine - V8 sound and longevity. I know for a fact that EVO engines (don't know about Imprezas) need very frequent maintenance and plus they sound like all 4 pots - ie shit - and the older ones had turbo lag in which you could make a cup of tea in while the engine got its act together.

        Any engine can be boosted to stupid bhp, its not hard. The hard bit is making the engine reliable day to day and making it last. There are plenty of decades old V8s still rumbling about. I wonder how many of the current crop of small capacity high power 4 pots will still being going in 30 or 40 years time without having required a complete rebuild including new valves and pistons? Not many I suspect.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: A few things

          @Boltar

          I think you're missing the point of a large unstressed engine - V8 sound and longevity

          It is the engine configuration of the gods, no doubt.

          I know for a fact that EVO engines (don't know about Imprezas) need very frequent maintenance

          About 6k for an oil change... which is one bolt and a filter, so hardly taxing.

          plus they sound like all 4 pots - ie shit

          Thankfully the boxer configuration gives a great warble.... Not nearly so sweet as the V8, but hardly shit.

          the older ones had turbo lag in which you could make a cup of tea in while the engine got its act together

          Agreed, but new design turbos are almost linear in terms of power delivery, with exceptionally little lag - not as good as a supercharger, but certainly not what they were in the 80s and early 90s.

          Any engine can be boosted to stupid bhp, its not hard. The hard bit is making the engine reliable day to day and making it last.

          Again, agreed. That's why I stopped at 400 bhp, because after that reliability or cost start to creep in. Obviously a V8 can be boosted north of 1000 bhp, but I assumed Mr Worstall was a little too, erm, middle aged for that.

          I wonder how many of the current crop of small capacity high power 4 pots will still being going in 30 or 40 years time without having required a complete rebuild including new valves and pistons? Not many I suspect

          None, I'd venture. But then I'm assuming a globe trotting capitalist pig like the good Mr Worstall is unlikely to be ducking the tax man in the same juridiction for long enough to require such longevity...

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Pop quiz

    What you going to do after six months with your car on Czech plates? Won't they get you when you register for Portuguese plates?

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: Pop quiz

      Original plan was to drive another one down and swap.

      Might not do that now....

      1. S4qFBxkFFg
        Go

        Re: Pop quiz

        So, find a trustworthy non-middle-aged bloke who fancies a cross-Europe road trip and pay his fuel.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Pop quiz

        Original plan was to drive another one down and swap.

        Just find someone going on a driving holiday and swap cars for the duration. You drive theirs locally, they get your tank for the away run. Car has left the country, and there are likely no rules governing when it can return.

      3. Bloakey1

        Re: Pop quiz

        i'll lend you one if you want ;) I have multiples just for the hell of it.

        The old bill over here have lightened up a bit of late. They don't seem to impound them any more but just levy a fine.

        Be careful on the N125 at the moment, it is a veritable death trap and will be until the end of August.

        1. Tim Worstal

          Re: Pop quiz

          Been down here around Messines for years now. Yes, N 125 in Aug is either a death trap or static. Tend to stay up in the hills this time of year....

  4. Lis 0r
    Devil

    Well done on recycling Jeremy Clarkson's joke. Did you pay to license it?

    1. Tim Worstal

      Whichever joke you're talking about it was actually thought up by me as I've no idea what jokes Clarkson might have told. But then it's not exactly unusual to come up with something that is new to you only to fin out that it's not in fact original.

      1. Lis 0r

        The one about having already paid for European tolls - classic Clarkson, from likely over a decade ago.

        That said, since you're a tax dodger, you haven't *actually* paid though, have you?

        Have you always planned to rely on the charity of others to prevent your Libertarian utopia from falling into dystopian anarchy?

        1. Craigness

          Liberty

          > prevent your Libertarian utopia from falling into dystopian anarchy

          The problem with libertarian utopias is that they become statist monsters, not "dystopian" anarchies.

          “A Republic, if you can keep it.” - Benjamin Franklin

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        rounded corners anyone?

      3. rh587 Silver badge

        In his series "Jeremy Clarkson: Meets the Neighbours" (in which he toured Europe in an E-Type Jag), he had a debate with a very confused toll attendant, trying to argue that they should let him through toll-free since he was one of the lovely Northern-European taxpayers who had actually paid for Portugal's shiny motorway network to be built.

        He also took said E-Type around the Arc de Triomphe, which makes him a braver man than I!

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        But then it's not exactly unusual to come up with something that is new to you only to fin out that it's not in fact original.

        Yeah, yeah. Everyone says that.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wtf is this nonsense

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Precisely what I was Thinking about your comment.

      It was obviously significant enough for you to comment on it.

  6. John Sager

    Lane merging

    AFAIR NZ has slow merge to fast, i.e. merge to the right. I don't remember many hills in the bit of Oz we drove - It's pretty flat travelling North in Queensland, hence all the Road Open/Closed boards on the A1 - not for snow but for floods!

    UK is fast merge to slow pretty much everywhere I think.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Lane merging

      But as NZ roads (outside of a handful of cities) see one car about every 15 minutes, it's a bit academic.

      1. SleepyJohn

        Re: Lane merging

        You must be in the North Island; we don't get it that busy on the Mainland.

        An interesting, and wonderful aspect of driving in NZ compared to the UK I grew up in is the willingness of even double trailer trucks to pull over onto any wide bit of hard shoulder to let you past, particularly on steep and/or winding roads, of which there is no shortage. You can repay their courtesy by passing as fast as possible so that they don't have to slow down or stop on running out of shoulder.

    2. Rufus McDufus

      Re: Lane merging

      We don't really have a standard for that in the UK. I can think of 3 examples of slow merging to fast within about 3 miles of my home.

      1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

        Re: Lane merging

        "I can think of 3 examples of slow merging to fast within about 3 miles of my home"

        Actually there are hundreds*. Isn't joining a motorway an example of this?

        * Not necessarily near your home, of course.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Lane merging

          Joining a motorway isn't really an example; it's more a case of 'give way' that people don't understand.

          But there is a classic slow->fast merge at the top of a slow uphill section of the M1 southbound near Watford; a left hand lane appears for lorries and then disappears. Meanwhile a similar section on the M6 disappears the outside lane.

          1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Lane merging

            "Joining a motorway isn't really an example; it's more a case of 'give way' that people don't understand."

            A moot point me'thinks.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Lane merging

            "Meanwhile a similar section on the M6 disappears the outside lane."

            And on the M62 Pennine sections both ways. And M5 SW of Bristol.

            AFAICR all of those have the right hand lane treated as the extra lane to be merged in at the end but at the start the extra lane is the crawler lane demerged from the left hand lane. Another area for study.

          3. Steve Foster
            Facepalm

            Re: Lane merging

            "Joining a motorway isn't really an example; it's more a case of 'give way' that people don't understand."

            Except that as with anything else, TPTB have muddied the waters by adopting multiple approaches, and using them inconsistently.

            For example, the M25 has a mixture of junctions with traditional slip roads (where joining traffic must give way), and junctions where lane one is taken via the junction (ie approaching the junction, lane one exits the motorway, and leaving the junction, rejoins the motorway; drivers in lane one who want to stay on the motorway are obliged to move into lane two for the duration).

            Hell, the M25 even has a junction where you (theoretically) exit the motorway in order to stay on it! (J5)

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Lane merging

              "Except that as with anything else, TPTB have muddied the waters by adopting multiple approaches, and using them inconsistently."

              I give you the M60 N-bound near Stockport.

              https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Stockport/@53.4284728,-2.1214888,16z/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x487a3515ca33c427:0xf418f67b823efe48?hl=en

              Yup, that's joining traffic coming into the fast lane from the right.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Lane merging

                "I give you the M60 N-bound near Stockport."

                That's a little surprising considering that's a pretty new junction. I thought one of the worst was the de-merge from the A1(M) to the A194(M) at Birtley (Washington) Services, Despite the one mile advanced signage and road markings telling everyone that lane 3 (the "fast" lane) is a slip road, there are still people trying to 70-80mph up there then realising that mucking great lorry doing 50(ish) is REALLY allowed to be in lane 3 on this bit of motorway and IS NOT going to move out of their way! (It's at the top of a longish hill, big wagons are not at their "top" speed yet, This junction is about 40 years old and I'm sure many people would like it to be improved but the cost would be prohibitive, not to mention the industrial estates around it.

                1. Martin-73 Silver badge

                  Re: Lane merging

                  Another option for 'sociopath road designer' is Junction 13 of the M3 (northbound)

                  map here

                  The problem isn't so much the merge of the 2 bits of road from the south (2 lanes each, one 'fast' one 'slow' , yes I know but that's how people treat them, meaning that the 'slow' traffic from the eas ends up on the right of the fast traffic from the west, but junction 13 itself is about 1/2 mile further on. So anything wishing to exit there has less than half a mile to cross 2 lanes of VERY fast moving traffic, and come to a halt because the junction dumps straight out at a traffic light controlled T junction on a residential road. I had the pleasure of shredding a cambelt on that section and having to coast across all 4 lanes onto the hard shoulder. Someone was smiling on me

              2. Major N

                Re: Lane merging

                Yep, just mentioned that in another reply. Bredbury Scissors is an example of grand plans that never came to fruition. The M60 goes through a big right; this was originally meant to be a slip road for traffic coming off the M63 to merge onto the M66; heading south, the M66 would have continued straight to become the A6(M) Stockport/Hazel Grove bypass (which means it would not have been A road traffic merging into the outside lane, but motorway traffic). The M634 would have continued straight on to Hattersley, which would have joined the M67, which originally would have run both all the way into Manchester (which is why the A57 is so wide most of the way into town East of Manchester; space reserved for the motorway) to what is not the A57(M)/A635(M) Mancunian Way,. and all the way across the Pennines to meet the M1, either in Sheffield, or near J35A I believe, depending on who you talk to.

                If you actually care, look up SELNEC, or go to Pathetic Motorways, which is fascinating if you care about the history of British Roads and bureaucracy, and what might have been, as well as the peculiar relics spattered about this isle of ours.

            2. Richard 12 Silver badge

              The M25 is a bad compromise

              It's actually several different motorways and dual carriageways that got stuck together into one ring when the money and enthusiasm ran out.

              There's several places where this is pretty obvious, as the route is just daft.

            3. Major N

              Re: Lane merging

              Just like the M1 when it hits the M621 at the south of Leeds - reason for that being the M1 used to BE the M621 heading into Leeds, until they extended it North.

              And the M60 at Bredbury in Stockport, where it hangs a sharp right, and the joining traffic comes in on the outside lane from an A-road roundabout. this used ot be the joining of the M63/M66, with the A-road merge originally being slated to be the A6(M) Stockport/Hazel Grove bypass, until it was binned.

              There's myriad examples, usually they're due to roads being planned but never built. OR just pure bad expansion policy (see the centre of Derby for an example of how NOT to do roads.)

      2. Martin 47

        Re: Lane merging

        Actually it appears we do, I think it's something like 'the one who bottles it first gives way'

    3. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Lane merging

      In WA Oz the rule on lane merging is that the vehicle ahead has priority, so if you are coming up behind someone traveling more slowly than you, you have to slow down and tuck in behind them.

      This rule is logical, safe and understood - Which is why many drivers ignore it...

    4. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Lane merging

      Nope, UK is slow to fast (to the left rather than right for obvious reasons), with the sole[1] exception of the crawler lane at the southern end of the M6. The only one that actually bloody works.

      Tim's spot on here, slowing a vehicle travelling at 80 to merge into a lane doing 65 is a damned sight easier and safer than moving a heavy truck doing 50 sideways into a lane where everything else is doing 65[2]. What really doesn't help is that roads are built on a "cheap as possible" basis, so the mile of crawler lane that allows trucks to regain speed on the flat / downgrade after the incline is always missing.

      The other thing common on continental motorways which I really miss in the UK is the restriction of trucks (7.5t and up) to lane 1 at peak periods and at all times on many two lane sections.

      [1] Only one I've found anyway.

      [2] This causes sudden braking and "bunching", the No 1 cause of motorway shunts.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Lane merging

        "The other thing common on continental motorways which I really miss in the UK is the restriction of trucks (7.5t and up) to lane 1 at peak periods and at all times on many two lane sections."

        There are two sections like that on the A1(M) in Co. Durham, southbound. They are very useful and helful at keeping the traffic moving at morning rush hour.

      2. Andy 66

        Re: Lane merging

        The other thing common on continental motorways which I really miss in the UK is the restriction of trucks (7.5t and up) to lane 1 at peak periods and at all times on many two lane sections.

        How about at major holiday weekends, banning trucks altogether from motorways, like in France?

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Lane merging

      If Portugal is like Spain the rule seems to be "does it fit into the least amount of space possible?"

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Lane merging

        In Denmark they use what is called the zipper-merge - you give way to the car in front. Works as well as most systems - perhaps because in case of accident, it is always the rear car's driver that gets the blame.

        Having used the A2 north from the Algarve with both my Accord (~1650kg, 190HP) and my Mazda B2500 pickup (~1650kg, 87HP with asthma) I am all for changing the merging of crawler lanes. Slow gives way to fast on top of the long hill...

        1. Tim Worstal

          Re: Lane merging

          A2- the motorway? Or IC 1, the "A" road as it were.

          The motorway (I am currently sitting about 800 m from both roads) doesn't have that many passing lanes, while the A road does, it's one lane each way with passing lanes on many of the hills.

          1. Roq D. Kasba

            Re: Lane merging

            In Auckland I saw signs saying 'Merge Like a Zip', confused the hell out of my Mrs who doesn't know how zips work.

          2. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Lane merging

            A2 the motorway! The pickup is usually doing about 80 (km/h!) on the top where it merges from 3 to 2. And until I got the radiator cleaned not even that much, as it would overheat if I put the pedal to metal for that long...

  7. graeme leggett

    one question

    How big an engine, that the costs (time, tolls, petrol, stress etc) of the grand tour outweigh the Portuguese tax?

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: one question

      Before I did it I thought it was obvious (saving is several thou €). Now I'm not so sure.....what is the value of a couple of day's gout in the big toe of the foot that sat on the accelerator?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: one question

        If only there were a market for a cruise control. I'm sure there would be people queueing up to build them.

        Oh, wait...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: one question

          If only there were a market for a cruise control. I'm sure there would be people queueing up to build them.

          LOL :). However, for your own sake, the first think you should kill when you get tired is cruise control, the second is your journey. There is no magic solution for tiredness other than sleep. Not coffee, not Redbull - only sleep will do.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: one question

            Couldn't agree more - though I was thinking more of gout in the toe than tiredness :)

  8. Chemist

    "Something that I'm glad I've done (hey! New experiences!), didn't enjoy doing "

    I regularly drive from Dover ( leave hotel ~2:15) catch a ferry and drive to Saas-Fee in Switzerland arriving by mid-afternoon. Especially if done on a Sunday it's an easy drive of ~550 miles. ~ 470 miles are motorway - I enjoy it and I'm 64.

    BTW comments about tolls. In my experience most French tolls are automatic, credit card devices - I've certainly not handed money to a real person for years and I drive ~4000-5000 miles a year in France.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Something that I'm glad I've done (hey! New experiences!), didn't enjoy doing "

      I regularly do a 600km run between The Netherlands and Switzerland (no exact number, I tend to take the occasional diversion to keep it interesting), and quite a lot of that is on unrestricted German motorways.

      Doing that in almost one go is possible, provided I'm well rested. I tend to make a stop at least every 2 hours, though, it is better to be fresh when you get into complex situations then wishing you had a break when it happens. I tend to travel at approx 130 km/h, as that gives a nice balance between speed and a reasonable normal fuel consumption so I don't have to stop too often (the average turbo diesel rental will do that comfortably on one tank). At 130km/h it is also easier to slow down when you suddenly hit a speed restricted stretch, at 200km/h you pretty much have to drop an anchor to slow down in time :).

      When I'm tired, however, it takes a LOT longer because I tend to park and rest the moment i feel my concentration waver. I have had one narrow escape on a night drive I had to do due to a family emergency, and that was close enough never to risk it again - ever. Think being 2 seconds away from scraping a middle barrier (I was already stripping the protruding reflectors, which is the noise that woke me up and saved me - I only ended up with paintwork damage from front to rear). Never again.

    2. Lyndon Hills 1

      French tolls

      I'd say most have three types of 'gate', at least one with a person, some machines to take cash or cards, and at least one lane for people who use a fully automated system, where you have a badge on the car, and don't need to stop. This seems to be the case in the South anyway , which is the area I know best.

      1. Chemist

        Re: French tolls

        "This seems to be the case in the South anyway , which is the area I know best."

        And everywhere else in France - I've driven more than half the motorways. The only places I can remember a manned toll is at the big bridges like Pont Normandie or the Millaud viaduct . Most exits (as opposed to end of sections) are fully automatic although there must be a person around to sort out problems. As I said earlier I can't recall having to pay a person for years. There may well be some manned tolls but they've been rapidly replacing them in recent years

  9. David Roberts Silver badge
    Holmes

    Marketplace?

    As asked before, roughly how much is the saving?

    If you are saving over 1000 Euros then there is scope for an innovative new service.

    Perhaps have a student drive it down then take a cheap flight back. After the first trip the driver just swaps over cars.

    Find someone who wants to do the trip anyway and have them drive it and share the petrol and tolls.*

    Perhaps club together and have a car transporter move 8 - 12 cars up and down each 6 months.

    You could always take it easy and stop in some very good B&Bs on the way down and enjoy the trip.

    Or is the saving minimal, and just an excuse to be "laddish" and have a Road Trip to show you are not yet middle aged? Which apparently turned out not to be the epic experience you were seeking.

    *Bootnotes:

    This is roughly how they move hire cars from North Island to South Island in NZ because the main flow is from South to North.

    There is a famous road trip novel from the US about a person being hired to drive a car across country. On the Road?

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Marketplace?

      "There is a famous road trip novel from the US about a person being hired to drive a car across country. On the Road?"

      Hmmm... I was thinking more of Vanishing Point, which didn't end well.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Marketplace?

        Damnation Alley could be described as a "cross country drive in a hired car".

    2. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Marketplace?

      movie-wise? Hitcher, the Rutger Hauer version.

  10. ratfox Silver badge

    as far as I know, the last was Sweden in the 1950s

    Sweden changed in 1967, Iceland in 1968. A smattering of African and Asian countries changed since, most recently Samoa, which switched to the English side of the road in 2009.

    1. Tim Worstal

      Yes, you're right about Samoa. And the reasoning was fun. Second hand cars from Japan are pretty cheap so let's move to the Japanese system....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, at least it didn't take too much effort given the tiny size of the islands in Samoa.

        1. SteveCarr
          Childcatcher

          In Samoa, the change came into effect at 6:00 am on Monday, 7 September 2009. The 7th and 8th were public holidays, so that residents were able to familiarise themselves with the new rules of the road.

      2. Strahd Ivarius

        Why move to a new system?

        In Vladivostok region people drive mainly Japanese cars compared to standard cars...

        And no one expressed the need to change anything.

    2. glen waverley
      Joke

      drive on the other side

      I remember a news item about an ex British colony that decided to change the cars to driving on the other side.

      Worked so well that 2 weeks later they decided to also change the side the trucks drove on.

      ( IT angle - a phased implementation may not always be the best method.)

  11. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Boffin

    Nice parable Tim

    But I spotted it.

    It's easier for the rich people fast moving traffic to pay tax slow down and merge than it is for the poor people slow moving traffic to pay tax speed up to merge as they're already at the limit of their capacity to do so.

    1. Craigness

      Re: Nice parable Tim

      Some countries force fast cars to slow down, others encourage slow cars to speed up.

  12. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    I have a modest proposal

    "If we were starting with a blank slate would we have the slow lane merging back into the traffic flow, or the fast lane?"

    Simple. Remember Google is pioneering both driverless cars and SDN. So merging would be based on G-WRED. Low priority vehicles (ones that don't pay Google) would simply be randomly discarded. Google is currently working on the equivalent of the bit bucket, and ways to prevent motorists getting jittery. This may simply involve paying Google to become high priority, and thus reduce probability of the long drop.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: I have a modest proposal

      I never guessed my motoring days would and on the A127.0.0.1

  13. Frenchie Lad

    Best Country for A Range Rover

    Clearly you've done a lot of homework to justify the 34 hours.

    In France there's an eco-tax (malus) on big motors when purchasing new costing from 4500, or 6500 to 8000 Euros. In your opinion which country in in the EU is best to purchase a new big motor with a view to do the 6 month visit? In my case it's France as the destination country but the 6 month principle seems generalised and I bulk at adding 6500 Euros to my purchase (I seem to recall there was a scheme in Poland at one time that classified SUVs as white vans with all the attendant business advantages).

    I'd imagine that a country with the highest taxation (VAT, car tax malus etc.) should be a candidate for a purchase for export or should the motor remain registered in the country of purchase ( I assume that we leave the question for left-hand drive vehicles only).

    I sympathise with the 34 hours, I used to do 1700 km trips through Europe in one go but now I take a leisurely approach which has it's gastronomic advantages (different cuisine in each country).

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: Best Country for A Range Rover

      I think the cheapest place for new cars is Denmark: there's huge taxes on registration which you don't have to pay if you export the car. Those huge taxes depressing the price at which the manufacturers sell.

      Germany's usually thought of as the best second hand market.

      Slightly oddly, German cars (ie brands) were more expensive in Czech Rep than in Germany, but French brands were cheaper in Czech Rep than Germany. Cultural thing about the quality of French engineering I'm told.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Best Country for A Range Rover

        Interesting, I would have reckoned Germany as well (which is probably also closer to Portugal than CZ?).

        There has been an interesting battle between the Swiss garages and the EU on this one. In Switzerland, cars are rather expensive compared to Germany to the point where we're comfortably talking about thousands of Euros on both new and second hand cars. This has led to a roaring trade between German garages and Swiss consumers, which in turn had led to some price adjustments in Switzerland, but not enough to address the difference You can still go into most German garages for new as well as secondhand vehicles, and they'll do all the paperwork for you, import and all.

        Swiss importers tried to get some restrictions imposed and some even tried refusing to service such vehicles, but Swiss consumer organisations as well as the government quickly put a stop to that.

        My neighbour did a trade like that a while back, he spent most of the difference on upgrading the specs :).

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    The rise

    in productivity should be accounted for when planning people's education.

    In teaching them howto fill out all those hours of downtime with other activities and howto appreciate our wonderful cultur... who am I fucking kidding?

    What has happened with the rise in productivity is that workers have been booted off to long term unemployment while the remaining 'lucky' few still have to flog themselves working 40 hrs+ per week.

    Take the establishment i attend... 25 yrs ago it had 4 lathe setters, 4 milling setters, an inspector, and about 20 unskilled machine operators.

    Currently it has 3 lathes, 3 millers, 1 odd job (me) an inspector and 4 unskilled operators(although 1 is being trained up to setter)

    We put out as much work as we did 25 yrs ago, and the rise in productivity is all due to the advent of computers.

    Which all brings us to the vital question for our times, what do we do with all the unemployed machine operators/toll collectors/ etc etc etc. ?

    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: The rise

      > Which all brings us to the vital question for our times, what do we do with all the unemployed machine operators/toll collectors/ etc etc etc. ?

      Painting nails! Though more seriously, all these 'leisure service' type jobs are absolutely dependent on other people's *spare* money whereas the physical production jobs have a greater tendency to cater to actual *needs*. Somewhat simplistic but not the place for an essay!

      I don't need painted nails to eat, I need a spoon. And if there is no spoon, that's where the trouble starts.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The rise

        "I don't need painted nails to eat, I need a spoon. And if there is no spoon, that's where the trouble starts."

        No trouble. Eat with your fingers and after eating get your nails painted. Full employment guaranteed.

        1. Doctor_Wibble

          Re: The rise

          > No trouble. Eat with your fingers ...

          Excellent idea. Enjoy the soup.

          There's also the question of whether the sound of peasants slurping their soup from the bowl would mask any other noises...

      2. Tim Worstal

        Re: The rise

        But if the robots are already making all the spoons we need then why not have painted nails?

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: The rise

          "But if the robots are already making all the spoons we need then why not have painted nails?"

          Because spoons either became cheaper due to the increased productivity (in which case I might decide that once I get some change back buying a spoon I might also want a fork - great for the existing fork makers who will happily ramp up production possibly even hiring some of the desperate jobless for half their old wages in the process, but does nothing for the ex-spoon-makers still out of a job because painted nails are way down on my list) or they don't really become cheaper at all (great for the 1%-er bastard who owns the shiny new robo-spoon factory but does nothing for the ex-spoon-makers still out of a job because I haven't any new income to spend on them).

        2. Any mouse Cow turd

          Re: The rise

          I cant afford to have my nails painted because because I lost my job as a spoon maker to some bloody robot. Now all the benefit of that increased productivity has gone to the factory owner.

          Give it a few years and we'll be back in olden times when we were glad of a few scraps from the lord of the manor.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The rise

          But if the robots are already making all the spoons we need then why not have painted nails?

          I'd skip the middle man and paint the spoons. Or did I miss something?

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: The rise

            Yesterday's SMBC seems apposite: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3823

    2. Craigness

      Re: The rise

      "what do we do with..."

      Let them decide for themselves. They might have more knowledge about their own skills and desires than "we" do about them, and they might have more of an imagination than elected politicians who would otherwise decide "our" policy for them.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: The rise

        Let them decide for themselves. They might have more knowledge about their own skills and desires than "we" do about them, and they might have more of an imagination than elected politicians who would otherwise decide "our" policy for them.

        That'd be all well and good if people could just pursue whatever skills and interests they had and live happily. But society doesn't just say, "you must work a job or you'll starve, you lazy bastard." It says, "you must do work that adds to GDP and thus is worth paying you for, or you'll starve."

        I know several long-term unemployed people who have excellent skills; they just aren't skills that it's possible to monetize, so society puts no value on their skills or on them as people.

        This is only going to become a worse bind as more and more jobs become possible to automate. Many of the "soft skills" that can only be done by humans are not considered worthy of pay precisely because many humans can do them. I'm not sure how we fix this. Either we have to have some kind of basic income scheme that allows people to survive even if they're not economically productive, or we'll have to let a lot of people starve. Right now we seem to be heading for the latter.

        1. Craigness

          Re: The rise

          "But society doesn't just say, "you must work a job or you'll starve, you lazy bastard." It says, "you must do work that adds to GDP and thus is worth paying you for, or you'll starve.""

          Reality says if you don't gather fruit you can't eat fruit. And you can't eat more fruit than you gather. Reality doesn't care about your value as a person, but society actually does. And you can get free fruit from food banks and free money from the government.

          You might have great skills as a typesetter or a Klingon translator, but if nobody wants what you make then you have to gather your own fruit. You can't expect others to do it for you and trade their effort for yours. You need to do something for me or I am not obligated to do anything for you. If I am obligated by force to give you the product of my labour but there is no obligation put on you, then why would I work? I can quit my job and join the privileged class instead.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: The rise

            "Reality says if you don't gather fruit you can't eat fruit. And you can't eat more fruit than you gather."

            You can if robots are gathering that fruit for you. Or you could, except in our system the fruit the robots gather all gets eaten by some fat CEO who owns the robots and hasn't gathered any fruit himself in decades.

            (And you can't get "free money" from the government, at least not if you have no children and live in the U.S. That kind of social safety net does not exist here.)

            It's all well and good to moralize about people not deserving to consume what they don't make, but we don't have enough productive jobs for everyone to have one, anymore, and the situation is getting worse. So again, I have to ask -- are we just going to let those people starve?

            You also seem to think that people would not work if their basic needs were covered, as if people would never desire more, or never get bored of idleness. I think that's ludicrous. The natural state of humans is not idleness; that's why we get bored. If someone is idle it's either because something has broken their ability to motivate themselves (e.g., mental illness), or because they see no realistic way forward. Many of the long-term unemployed are in the latter category. I've never met anyone who was happy to be out of work.

            (p.s.: Most people I've known who were labeled "lazy" had untreated mental illness that prevented them from working, and of course you can't get mental health care without a job because that would be eating fruit you didn't pick, or something.)

            1. Vic

              Re: The rise

              I've never met anyone who was happy to be out of work.

              Then you've not met me. I very deliberately spend as much time out of work as I can afford to.

              Unfortunately for me, I have contracted an aviation habit, so work does have to happen...

              Vic.

              1. Orv Silver badge

                Re: The rise

                That's an expensive habit. Sure you couldn't take up something cheap, like high-stakes gambling?

                1. Vic

                  Re: The rise

                  Sure you couldn't take up something cheap, like high-stakes gambling?

                  I was toying with the idea of taking up crack cocaine, on the grounds that it'd be cheaper - but it won't be nearly so much fun :-)

                  Vic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The rise

      But unemployment in uk is the lowest it's been so what you're saying just isn't true.

      it sounds like your company isn't very successful.

  15. wiggers

    Right of way

    The overtaking vehicle (or ship for that matter) has to give priority to the one being overtaken. Therefore merging lane 1 -> 2 makes sense in that lane 2 are the overtakers and 'should' allow lane 1 vehicles to merge in. It also makes sense to merge lane 4 (say) into 3 as it is the end of the overtaking section. Of the two, I think the latter is preferred as it simply means overtaking is being stopped. Whereas 1 -> 2 is tough on those in lane 1 as they need to find a slot to move into and hope faster vehicles will let them in.

    (Disclosure: I have worked in Traffic Management)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Traffic Management

      Ah, these are the fine people who insist on tinkering with traffic lights.

      Once upone a time going from the A3 North onto the Anti-Clock M25 at Jcn 10 was easy.

      Get a green at the first light and if you were light on the throttle you could get through the next two sets of lights without stopping. ****

      Now...? They have changed the timing so that you have to stop at the second set of lights.

      Don't these people ever stop to think about how much extra Petrol and Diesel is going to be used with the extra stop/start? All the extra pollution?

      It is almost as if they have had a directive from No 11 Downing St to interrupt traffic flow as much as possible so that more fuel is burnt to help offset the reduction in tax due to the lower price of oil?

      Shirley not?

      ****There are plenty of other cases all over the place. A certain junction in Oxford comes to mind and the M4 Jcn 11 (turning right), A33 South is just one. Normally you can expect to get held up at 4 different sets of lights.

      1. David Roberts Silver badge

        Re: Traffic Management

        Just to note that to the best of my memory, when travelling on the M25 clockwise between the A1M and the M11 there are a number of hills where a new fourth lane opens on the right hand side, and then at the top of the hill the slow lane merges into the next one across.

        This seems to work, because lanes 1 & 2 seem to be travelling at roughly the same speed whilst lane 4 is full of mad buggers going hell for leather nose to tail and not wanting to slow down for anyone.

        In effect it releases a bunch of pent up speed freaks to charge on ahead and lets those of a more sedate nature politely sort things out amongst themselves.

        1. Vic

          Re: Traffic Management

          there are a number of hills where a new fourth lane opens on the right hand side

          We've got a four-lane stretch of the M27.

          And the dopey buggers *still* sit in the outside lane, overtaking nothing whatsoever...

          Vic.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Traffic Management

        Don't these people ever stop to think about how much extra Petrol and Diesel is going to be used with the extra stop/start? All the extra pollution?

        Given the extra income the state gets from fuel sales one could suspect secondary motives here. This is also why state sponsored initiatives to save energy are suspect: the result will be lower tax income from energy sales, and we all know what that leads to..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right of way

      The overtaking vehicle (or ship for that matter) has to give priority to the one being overtaken. Therefore merging lane 1 -> 2 makes sense in that lane 2 are the overtakers and 'should' allow lane 1 vehicles to merge in. It also makes sense to merge lane 4 (say) into 3 as it is the end of the overtaking section. Of the two, I think the latter is preferred as it simply means overtaking is being stopped. Whereas 1 -> 2 is tough on those in lane 1 as they need to find a slot to move into and hope faster vehicles will let them in.

      Compulsive "zipping" strikes me as better risk management. First of all, it makes the people who are overtaken not feel that overtakers "cheat" which results in merging battles up ahead, and thus also encourages full use of the lane that has to merge until the very end. Secondly, it enables planning ahead for a mandatory slow down. One of the main issues in merging is the battle for priority where people that have patiently queued take offence when others use the merge lane to gain a few meters (some people seem to think gaining a couple of meters is worth risking everyone's life for). Personally, if there is a 3 lane system where lane 3 and 2 merge, I tend to move into lane 1. It gives me a better overview of everyone jostling for position, and as lane 2 will also have to absorb the traffic in lane 3 it will soon slow to a stop whereas lane 1 with its HGVs keeps on moving (they need to keep momentum going or it costs a lot of fuel). A couple of minutes past the merging point traffic usually sorts itself out, and then I'll overtake if appropriate.

      Do I lose some speed? Sure, but when it's busy I prefer to adopt tactics that (a) ensure I have enough margin to prevent being endangered by others and (b) still ensure I'm not causing risk myself (slow driving is as much a risk as excessive speed as you cause others to overtake you, which is why they have recently imposed minimum speeds in some parts of the Netherlands). I like fast driving, but not at the expense of traffic rule #1: keep it safe.

  16. Bruce Hoult

    NZ and territories

    In fact Samoa, (formerly a NZ territory and still very closely linked), changed from driving on the right to driving on the left on 8 September 2009. They also by the way changed time zones by 24 hours in December 2011, to be in the same day and NZ & Australia instead of nearly a day behind like Hawaii (and American Samoa).

    In NZ there are distinct "passing panes" in which the fast traffic merges with the slow, and "slow vehicle bays" in which the slow traffic merges with the fast.

    The problem with slow vehicle bays is that no one driving a car ever thinks of themselves as "slow" (trucks are better about this), so I very often end up overtaking two or three cars on the left side, using the slow vehicle bay.

    1. rhcp

      Re: NZ and territories

      From my memory of driving in the UK, there is no greater sin than overtaking on the LHS. In NZ it is normally legal, provided there are marked lanes, but there have been suggestions this could change.

      I've often wondered why it is so frowned on in the UK - otherwise why bother to mark the lanes in the first place?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: NZ and territories

        Many American jurisdictions also make it a moderate offense to "pass on the right" (the American version of Britain's "overtaking on the left"). Now, just what the "right" means can differ. Some just don't want you to use the shoulder as a passing lane; others are stricter and want you ONLY to pass on the left, enforcing a fast-to-slow progression from median to shoulder. Usually, stricter passing areas use signs to indicate this.

      2. Bruce Hoult

        Re: NZ and territories

        Yes, in NZ all lanes are legally equal, and in some way separate roads. It is regarded as polite for slow traffic to keep left, but I don't think it's enforceable.

        I once got pinged for using a motorway onramp to overtake, there being three vehicles driving persistently side by side in the three lanes for some km. My offence, apparently, was changing lane from a proper motorway lane onto the onramp -- not the overtaking itself.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: NZ and territories

          "I once got pinged for using a motorway onramp to overtake, there being three vehicles driving persistently side by side in the three lanes for some km. My offence, apparently, was changing lane from a proper motorway lane onto the onramp -- not the overtaking itself."

          That sounds a lot like a version of overtaking on the left since you're not supposed to pull into an onramp; only entering traffic should be on it. And I think they'd get you for the same if you tried the same stunt on an offramp, on the belief that pulling into one indicates an irreversible intent to leave the motorway.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: NZ and territories

        "there is no greater sin than overtaking on the LHS. "

        Yes, society's response should be summary execution by the side of the road followed by the departed soul banished to its own new level in hell or possibly doomed to spend eternity as ghostly apparition in a phantom car driving the A17 twixt Newark and Kings Lynn.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: NZ and territories

        From my memory of driving in the UK, there is no greater sin than overtaking on the LHS.

        It's illegal to pull into the left-hand lane to overtake, but if you happen to already be in that lane when you encounter a middle-lane hog trundling along below the speed limit it's perfectly legal to continue at your speed in the LH lane and pass them.

        1. Vic

          Re: NZ and territories

          It's illegal to pull into the left-hand lane to overtake, but if you happen to already be in that lane when you encounter a middle-lane hog trundling along below the speed limit it's perfectly legal to continue at your speed in the LH lane and pass them.

          That's debatable...

          What the Highway Code allows is to pass on the left when the vehicle you are passing is turning right, or when traffic is moving slowly in queues. That's poorly-defined; your definition *might* work, or it might not.

          Then again, I once had a copper pull alongside me (I was doing 70 in the LH lane), brake, and then claim I was trying to pass him on the left. It's the luck of the draw, I guess...

          Vic.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: NZ and territories

            What the Highway Code allows is to pass on the left when the vehicle you are passing is turning right, or when traffic is moving slowly in queues. That's poorly-defined; your definition *might* work, or it might not.

            The Highway Code is not law, merely advice (that's why it is a "code"). When it quotes law it will say MUST or MUST NOT and will reference the law in question, for example "You MUST NOT use the hard shoulder for overtaking." (which would be a case of passing on the left). There is no specific law against passing on the left, however ignoring Highway Code advice could result in a prosecution for careless or dangerous driving. As always you need to use common sense.

            1. Vic

              Re: NZ and territories

              The Highway Code is not law

              No, it's not. But as you say later,

              ignoring Highway Code advice could result in a prosecution for careless or dangerous driving

              ...And usually does, if you get caught. So although it's not a legal document, it has the effect of being one.

              Vic.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: NZ and territories

        From my memory of driving in the UK, there is no greater sin than overtaking on the LHS. In NZ it is normally legal, provided there are marked lanes, but there have been suggestions this could change.

        I've often wondered why it is so frowned on in the UK - otherwise why bother to mark the lanes in the first place?

        The reason why it has been made a fairly heavy traffic rule violation is ironically the very reason why this ought to be ended: risk management.

        In the UK and some other nations, the idea is that people check a lane before overtaking (as the also often ignored rule is that you should not overtake when you're already being overtaken), whereas post overtaking, merging back into the original lane was considered not a risk as that lane was supposed to go slower and you just had a clear space. I'm probably not explaining it well, but the general idea was that by designating one side for overtaking, you only had to watch one side. You may be used to mirrors on both sides, but that has not always been the case, quite a while back only the driver side had a mirror and you'd have to turn your head to check the passenger side area. An extra side effect of this approach is that it also renders weaving an illegal manoeuvre, which is IMHO its sole saving grace.

        The issue is that anyone doing an "undertake" is thus not expected by those returning to the innermost lane, which is where the risk comes in and hence the frowning upon.

        The irony is that by removing this restriction you do indeed open up a lane changing risk to both sides, but at the same time you then also set the expectation that it can happen from both sides which forces people to check on either side. IMHO that's the more sane approach, because that also removes the issue of idiots hanging in a middle lane for miles for no detectable reason than possible insanity, stupidity or both.

        The problem I see, however, is that it becomes hard to regulate weaving, which is when total idiots who should have their license removed start weaving in and out of lanes in heavy traffic because they cannot handle the idea of driving just as fast as others, in traffic denser than themselves...

  17. ClammyLammy

    Portuguese v. Spanish Lane Merging

    From my experience the most likely reason for the Portuguese doing their lane merging the way that they do is simply so that they don't do it the Spanish way.

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: Portuguese v. Spanish Lane Merging

      Well, yes, there is that.

      this time of year gives us one of the great comic sights. Spanish is generally understandable to a Portugee (not so much the other way around) yet there's a dogged insistence that the Spanish tourists should at least *try* a bit to switch languages. So you see some tourist asking directions or whatever, can see that the Portugee knows exactly what is being asked, hand is even twitching to point the way, but they will insist that the tourist says it another couple of times, more slowly, before giving in and answering.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Portuguese v. Spanish Lane Merging

        The Spanish on most of the Mediterranean sea board are the same, very few of them speak no English at all but they will act as if they understand nothing until a tourist has repeated himself several times. Maybe because it is more entertaining winding up a tourist than watching Spanish TV.

        By the way most Spanish tolls on the roads I travel on are auto, I think there is one staffed toll on the Alicante -Madrid route.

        Answer to your question ; in theory it should be better for faster traffic to slow and allow slower traffic in, in reality that ain't gonna happen though!

        1. Vic

          Re: Portuguese v. Spanish Lane Merging

          they will act as if they understand nothing until a tourist has repeated himself several times. Maybe because it is more entertaining winding up a tourist than watching Spanish TV.

          Hale and Pace did a sketch along those lines...

          Vic.

  18. Mage Silver badge

    But it's not really about roads or tax?

    More about automation?

  19. AdamG57

    Without wishing to be a Luddite, robots don't need or want nails done. I note Marx - tech ---> insufficient demand--> deflation, then export or war, although Keynes added that deflation --> excess savings or insufficient investment, thus unemployment which means that governments should borrow to invest more than would otherwise be optimum...

  20. Jason Hindle

    Samoa changed to driving on the left

    As noted above. Ostensibly to bring them into line with the other South Pacific nations. It also makes the cost of buying a car cheaper there, since they can just import used cars, unmodified, from Aus, NZ and Japan.

  21. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Who pays for infrastructure?

    No one has addressed this yet.

    Persoanly I think roads are a socail cost, not an individual cost. We all benefit from a good road system and we all pay for it one way or another. Transport costs are factored into the prices of all goods and services already so tolls on top of VED would simply raise the costs of those goods and services which use the road network. And that's pretty much everything you buy.

    IIRC a number of toll bridges have had their tolls reduced or removed and the econmic benefits to the areas served have improved. The Humber Bridge is a decent example.

  22. KA1AXY

    US merge

    Slow into fast. Signs typically say something like "Climbing lane ends, merge left"

    Tolls here are starting (east coast) to use a standard electronic tag, "EZPass", they bill via your credit card on file, works through about 15 states and costs nothing extra, they make money off the interest on the balance from changing your card in increments of $25. Many people, fearful of government tracking, still refuse to use them though, choosing to wait in line to hand over cash. Luckily, there are dedicated lanes for electronic payment!

    In Massachusetts, you pay a sales tax at time of registration and an annual excise tax based on the original sales price of the car. The state gets the sales tax (6.25% of price paid) and the town you live in gets the excise tax, which starts out as 2.5% of the list price (not the price you actually paid) and drops with the car's age to some minimum percentage after about 5 years.

    1. KA1AXY

      One humorous anectdote about merging in Massachusetts:

      When rotaries (roundabouts) were new here, and I was a new driver, the rule was that the vehicles entering the rotary had the right of way. Those learned in the arcane art of queuing theory will immediately see the humor here.

      Massachusetts is known for its quirky traffic engineering...they must not pay that much...so it took them a while before they changed the rules.

      Our drivers have almost leaned the "zipper merge", but every so often, you get a pr*ck in a hurry who screws it all up. Fun times here...you should visit sometime, Dabbsy.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "When rotaries (roundabouts) were new here, and I was a new driver, the rule was that the vehicles entering the rotary had the right of way."

        It was the same in the UK. It changed about '67 or '68 and the difference was dramatic.

        1. captain veg

          priorité à droite

          In france it still is the case that those entering have the right of way, unless signage explicitly states the contrary. It is a consequence of the ridiculous principle of giving priority to those approaching from the right, that has people driving towards junctions staring out of the passenger door window instead of at the road ahead. Possibly the most entertaining place to observe the phenomenon is the Place Charles de Gaulle - Etoile (surrounding the Arc de Triomphe in Paris). When traffic is heavy, which is most of the time, the only part actually moving is the inner ring. The rest is a gridlock of those trying to exit having to wait for a gap in the traffic of those coming on. And there are no lane markings, but if there were I reckon it would be about 15 across.

          -A.

          1. Chemist

            Re: priorité à droite

            "priorité à droite "

            In countless thousands of miles driving through France this has never been any kind of problem. It's been phased out in so many places hat it only seems to occur in the centers of old towns and villages occasionally or very rural crossroads.

            Driving in Paris is a very different matter !

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: slow lane merging

    I'd prefer it if the slow lane merged into a giant skip so I don't have to sit behind the buggers waiting for a chance to get past them.

  24. Steve Knox

    Taxes

    Given that the UK is a net payer into EU funds, as are many Northern EU countries, it's therefore a tad galling to both have paid for the road through taxation and also then get charged to use it.

    Ah, the whole "paid for it twice" bit. Except that you didn't. Your taxes paid to build the road; the tolls pay to maintain it. (Of course, that's not an exact split and doesn't include the skimming which invariably occurs, but you get the general idea.)

    Until we come up with perma-roads, there will need to be some form of ongoing funding for maintenance. For non-toll roads in the US, much of that comes from federal and state taxes on gasoline. This is leading already to some headaches as alternative fuels dodge many of the taxes, but don't decrease the wear on the roads.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Taxes

      "alternative fuels dodge many of the taxes"

      That's just a sweetener to get people to change. The tax breaks are already showing signs of reducing and will eventually disappear while the taxes/charges for IC engines will increase massively once a tipping point is reached.

  25. DasWezel
    Holmes

    Lane merging

    On the topic of fast merging to slow, or slow merging to fast, there seems to be a lot of support for slow merging to fast, either to encourage slow traffic to speed up, or what have you. Which I can kind of understand, given that more or less every normal car now sold will crack 90MPH or more.

    I'd like to bring to the floor lorries, heavily-laden vans and tippers, 1 litre student shoeboxes with more than two people, and my 40+ year-old Land Rover. Which will happily sit at 70MPH all day long, right until the moment I hit a hill, especially since I have to be about 70 miles from home to hit a motorway, and on those occasions, I'm usually fully-laden.

    In these cases, the option of going faster just isn't there - we're running at full chat, with the throttle pedal usually making a cracking impression on the footwell, and the engine screaming for mercy.

    If I were to be forced to join a faster lane (rather than have the faster lane merge) then I'm relying on either being let out by some kind soul (who in turn will be cursed by all and sundry behind him), forcing my way into lane (and causing a stampede on assorted brake pedals), or losing speed (and potentially being forced to stop) until a gap appears. At which point the next vehicle that comes will likely be even harder on the anchors than it would be otherwise.

    Just my tuppence-worth from the slower side of life. We're doing what we can, even if we're doing it slowly!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lane merging

      I've had some fun with forklift trucks on a chemical plant, and they had a simple priority rule: laden has priority over empty. The reason was simple: with load, not only do you need a lot longer to stop, there is also the risk of load shift which (if done violently enough) has the potential to cause anything from serious damage to death. It's basic physics.

      This is also a principle you ought to keep in mind if you decide to nip in the roll gap of a lorry when traffic comes to a standstill - you have placed yourself in the trajectory of something that may not support an abrupt stop, which in turn may have quite serious impending consequences for your health.

  26. Dr_N Silver badge

    Choose a lane?

    Just do what the Brits, Belgians and Swiss do and sit in the middle like they own the whole autoroute/strada/pista.

  27. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    The lanes

    Well, here in Iowa (middle of US), highway 151 used to be 1 lane each way with those passing lanes up hills. These lanes are something like 30 miles apart. Luckily it's now 2 lanes each way the whole way (with 3 lanes for a few hills), because (having driven in a lot of the US), Iowans are probably the rudest drivers in the country when it comes to this kind of thing.

    What was supposed to happen was a right lane would appear for slower traffic, and the slow traffic should follow the HUUUGE "slower traffic use right lane" sign, drive in that right lane, and merge back in at the end.

    What ACTUALLY would happen is, about 10% of the time there'd be no traffic at all, no problem. About 40% of the time, there'd be traffic but everyone behaved themselves -- slower traffic moved right, faster traffic (if there was any) went by on the left. (This is what I do, even if there's no traffic I move right if I'm not actually passing somebody.) Again, no problem. About 30% of the time, some asshole that HAD been going about 10MPH *under* the speed limit would stay in the left lane and speed up to about 10MPH *over* the speed limit, to try to prevent anyone passing them, then slow back down to 10MPH under once the slow lane is done. Needless to say I'd have none of that and just blast past them on the right side. About 10% of the time, you'd have a left-lane-driver *plus* a right-lane-pacer that'd drive along in the right lane at 1 car length + 1 inch behind the left lane car. Needless to say, since they are then an uncivilized road obstruction I had no qualms just squeezing that 1 inch in front of them and then taking off for a proper pass. The last 10% of the time, the right-lane-driver will go JUST fast enough so they use the ENTIRE passing area to just barely squeeze by the left lane car, making sure nobody else has room to pass. It's never a lack of horsepower, they'll just be cruising along in top gear and making no effort to pass in a timely manner *or* drop back so people can go around, oblivious to other cars (and even semis -- lorries to you) tailgating them, flashing lights, and honking at them.

    Like I say, luckily this road's been widened to 2 lanes each way (with a few areas having a 3rd lane "slow lane"), so this simply isn't a problem on 151 any more.

    1. x 7

      Re: The lanes

      " It's never a lack of horsepower, they'll just be cruising along in top gear and making no effort to pass in a timely manner "

      Thats a result of using cruise control - it takes the thinking out of driving

      It should be banned - it reduces drivers to idiots

      1. Uffish

        Re: The lanes

        In France the polite way to overtake is to accelerate (starting a fair distance behind and ending a fair distance in front), otherwise the overtaken will wait a few minutes and then, rather pointedly, overtake you.

        1. Vic

          Re: The lanes

          In France the polite way to overtake is to accelerate (starting a fair distance behind and ending a fair distance in front)

          That's the polite - and safe - method everywhere.

          Information - Position - Speed - Gear - Acceleration.

          By the time you pull out from behind the car in front, you should already have a speed differential. This minimises the amount of time in the overtake (important if you're on a single-carriageway).

          By the time you pull back in, you should have sufficient clearance from the car you've just overtaken that you don't cause him to want to brake to avoid your rear end...

          Vic.

  28. x 7

    " if we still had 40 per cent of the population farming the food for the UK would we really have enough people around to be able to put 10 per cent of all working people into the NHS?"

    You're looking at that from the wrong angle......the fact is that due to people not working in hard manual jobs such as farming and mining, we have a population that is living longer and so creating a demand for the NHS

    You also have to accept the fact that food production in the UK is much reduced from the situation of 20/30/40 years ago. On a simple level, many hill farms have never recovered from the last two foot and mouth epidemics: in many hill areas the animals were eradicated and never replaced. Meanwhile much lowland farmland has been handed over to equine pleasure activities - not food production. Along with prime farming land lost to building (a crime in itself) these all add up to a massive loss of farming production which can easily account for a part of the reduction in labour.

    Put it another way - if there were a WWIII and we had another submarine blockade, we'd be starved after 3-4 months

    1. Vic
      Joke

      equine pleasure activities - not food production

      Tesco might disagree with you...

      Vic.

  29. JLV Silver badge

    merge slow back into fast

    I've lived 10 years in France (fast middle merges back to slow) and Canada (slow right merges back into middle). Much prefer Canadian approach (lots of thinking about that on my road trips).

    It seems only fair that those who are in a hurry and can't stick to their lane should be inconvenienced by having to merge back.

    The problem is what happens when the 3 lanes become 2 again and you are still passing a car in the slow lane. When it's a French fast merge, you need to either speed up to pass to nip back to the right. Which is safe, if you can pull it off. But leaves you in oncoming traffic is you can't. Or else hit the brakes, fall behind the car and rush back into the right lane, possibly cutting off the next car behind.

    You cannot stay in the now disappearing middle lane, it will have oncoming traffic in it.

    Here, if you are merging from the slow lane to the middle lane and you can't because someone is in it, hitting the brakes and staying in your lane is a relatively safe option, if very annoying. You could even come to a complete stop if you really had to. Cars behind you would have to stop as well, but even for them that's better than dealing with a brutal last second panic swerve from the fast lane.

    Is it fair that you had to give way to the bozo trying to pass who couldn't do it correctly? No, but it's better than panicky last second lane weaving by anyone. Everyone is put at risk, not just the party doing the passing.

    Anyway, passing here is still a bit of an adrenaline rush at times, especially as mine is a hilly area, but it feels quite a bit safer overall.

    Would love to see accident cause statistics for both systems however.

    Left vs. right driving? Doesn't really matter, it's just a convention.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cavete sinistram

    nuff said

  31. lukewarmdog

    won't someone think of the robots

    Surely the boffin who makes the robots just needs to give them the relevant desires and they WILL want to get their nails done. If they don't have fingers, they will absolutely be jealous of the go faster stripes on their neighbors. Give them internet connectivity and they can compare robot tats with counterparts around the world, choose body mods from an online catalog and contact the people they put out of manual work to come paint those designs on them.

    My auto-shop will happily give kickbacks to any boffin who implements this.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    France has the delightful take the left hand (accelerating lane) to leave the autoroute for another one a few places around the periphique. Which results in me having to carve across 3 lanes in a asthmatic motorhome when the gps chirps up and says I need that junction suddenly.

    Happily the wife is usually in the passenger seat and she knows the run so well she warns me in plenty of time to not have to do it too kamakazi. I did the same run solo in a lwb panel van with a car on a car trailer behind giving a rig of some considerable length the very first time I drove the route and that was back in the pre-camera deathrace 2000 periphique days, and I'm sure some of the other drivers who expected driving aggressively and tooting their horn to open a gap for them at the last second in the customary way are still scarred by the near death experience they had. The nature of that road has changed beyond all recognition since then, now you just have to be careful not suicidal and its one of the few places I actually think speed camera enforcement has improved things...

    I'd like a sbc or bbc in the motorhome of slug, sadly it has a 2.5 (non turbo) diesel. The French alps were fun at times. We were out the last weekend up to eurodisney from near the limousin, it was extremely busy, but only exiting Paris direction on the friday evening, and entering Paris on the sunday afternoon. Happily as we were sailing in the opposite direction all was calm and good (planned...). We have the toll beeper because its a royal pain in the arse lining up a motorhome with the booth to pay. You can beep through the normal pay booths if you cant get across to the rolling toll lane.

    Though (as usual) at one point it refused to work so we took a ticket to pay by card on exit, then when exiting it set the booth off and we got maximum charge of 96e, but will check the account and correct if so.

    To the person going on about number plate on toll cameras being linked up to international databases. Link to actual proof please? that has "been in the works" for about 15 years with expats spreading that THIS year is the year its all linked up. Only each year its been utter made up guff posted by nimby's who just want to compensate for something in their life. Which is why there is still no co-ordinated speed camera enforcement across boundaries. There are some limited arrangements between certain member states but its certainly not universal.

    Tim, avoid the import tax, but they'll have it back at the pumps in a few weeks anyway :D

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      not have to do it too kamakazi

      Pfft! Here on Long Island, NY we have semi-circular "fishhook" entrances and exits from the high speed parkways that are arranged so that traffic leaving the highway needs to do combat with traffic trying to get onto it. Said onramp traffic can only be doing about 30 MPH owing to the tight radius of the curve of the fishhook.

      Those leaving the highway need the extra screaming-and-stamping-on-the-brakes time anyway because leaving the highway at highway speeds per ingrained UK motorway habits will end up with you sitting on a grass verge, optionally wrapped around a tree, owing to the tight radius of the off-ramp fishhook and sometimes innovative ideas on road camber employed. Been there, done that, spoiled the trousers.

      On the Long Island Expressway they dealt with the problems of traffic getting stranded on the more sensible straight-ish onramps during rush hour (because of gittish behavior when it comes to "letting people enter the highway") not by reconfiguring the roads to be more traffic friendly but by installing stop lights on the on-ramp. This ensures that no-one can get up to enough speed to merge safely even if the traffic is moving. Luckily most Long Islanders have no idea how to enter a freeway and will obliviously pull out at thirty into a stream of traffic doing fifty five anyway.

      I almost rear-ended someone yesterday while entering the LIE because she, with clear road ahead, to the side and behind, motored up the onramp at forty then stamped on the brake before merging into empty space. I was foolishly checking my mirror for speeding trucks when she braked, and had assumed she was aware that the minimum speed limit on the freeway was forty miles an hour so was unprepared for her novel Unnecessary Speed Reduction ploy. Well played, madam. Well played.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Merge

    Typically in the UK, merges in rush hour are as successful as my git merges.

    However, on rural 1 - 2 - 1 lanes, the merger depends on whether the lane was designated as a crawler lane or a overtaking lane. The former, the vehicle on the inside must merge, the latter the vehicle on the outside.

    Although there are also cases, such as the M8 at Livingston, where the inside lane is created as a crawler, however the outside lane then merges in. No-one has a clue how to navigate this.

  34. codejunky Silver badge

    Cmon Tim

    "it's therefore a tad galling to both have paid for the road through taxation and also then get charged to use it."

    How else would the lefties have it? They all want us to pay a fair amount, but fair is an ever increasing number. Maybe we can get out of the EU and the Germans can cough up the money instead.

  35. Uncle Ron

    Terrible--And Wrong--Common Opinion

    You say, "...users of such infrastructure should be the people paying for such infrastructure."

    This is such a common and completely wrong opinion that I couldn't possibly let it go without a tirade: Are you NUTS! It is as completely wrong as is any other 'flat tax' philosophy. It is simple-minded, lazy, and, I feel, destructive. Somehow, we have all been lulled into this mode of thinking--by the Right and by the stupid media.

    You can easily throw this idea on it's ear by conflating the word "users" and the word "beneficiaries." All public infrastructure, and in fact, ALL the features of a modern society--national defense, public education, the very rule of law, and more--benefit the "users" more, the richer they are. For example, in the States, Michael Dell "benefits" from the above features of our society, EVEN WHEN HE IS SLEEPING. He is "using" our toll roads to get his raw materials to the factory, his products to market, his employees to work, and his customers to the stores to buy his products. Yet he pays exactly the same couple of bucks to personally use those roads. They cost him -far- less personally than they would if the true benefit to him was assessed. Meanwhile, the tradesman, lower-class working man, and may others, are trying to figure out a way to get from Point A to Point B--without using the toll road--as he can't afford $60 a month toll to get to and from work every day. This isn't right, and this seemingly common-sense opinion needs to be thrown out with all the other trash.

    Of course I'm referring here to the concept of "progressive" vs. "regressive" taxation. Our infrastructure (and much else) in the States is crumbling because the stupid, wrong, and unfair idea of "user pays" and "trickle-down" has taken such root. Fertilized by the rich.

    Thank you.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Terrible--And Wrong--Common Opinion

      > You say, "...users of such infrastructure should be the people paying for such infrastructure."

      > This is such a common and completely wrong opinion that I couldn't possibly let it go without a tirade: Are you NUTS!

      Johannesburg is currently in the midst of this debate. The powers-that-be decided that, as Jo'burg has some of the busiest roads on the African continent, it would only be fair if the users paid an e-toll to contribute to their upkeep.

      The authorities argued that as Jo'burg's roads took the lion's share of the nation's budget, users should pay a premium to use them. In effect, the users should pay for the infrastructure.The population of Johannesburg boycotted the system en mass.

      One of the most compelling arguments advanced for non-payment was that while Jo'burg's roads took a lot of upkeep, the city formed the backbone of the South African economy. However much smaller towns and rural areas felt disadvantaged by the disparity in spending, they're feel a lot worse if SA's economy was to break down as a result of a lack of maintenance to SA's economic 'engine'.

      What it comes down to is that even if a rural farmer (for example) never uses a main road from one month to another, he is an indirect beneficiary of the transport infrastructure that supports the nation's economy. How, then, can the farmer's intangible benefit be assessed - progressive income tax!

  36. Yugguy

    There's crap jobs and there's crap jobs

    So those who used to work in factories and fields and maybe got some kind of job satisfaction from seeing a finished product or feeling the earth in their hands now get to serve foul fast food to foul chavs.

    I'm not sure this is progress.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone drives as they were taught, nor not, and thinks all others are crazy dangerous. Which must be true because most multi-vehicle crashes are due in small or large part to conflicting driving styles.

    I was taught to merge slightly faster than traffic, zipper, and use the most powerful energy converting system on most cars, the brakes, to adjust position. Of course others, most, merge slow all too often come to a stop, enter into the next large enough for them gap, force traffic to slow and then change lanes because that lane is too slow for them.

    A dangerous conflicting style occurs when one is merging with those that accelerate to prevent merging, particlularly those who are slow at it. A merge while driving a truck had one of those try that but fail to get infront of me. I continued the merge (the other option was emergency braking which would create an incident anyway) and the driver wondered what I would have done if he hadn't braked and "let me in". I said given his inability to pass even half my vehicle I would have driven over or hit his car with my rear axle. Such incidents are not uncommon, people often try cutting up the inside of a truck and then wonder why the truck doesn't just jump out of their way. I've seen motorcycles try it as well, which reminds me that cagers should not ride.

    But of course those drivers think the problem are those that zipper, let people pass, and generally try to keep traffic flowing by driving to conditions. I understand that, it's all about those first impossible to forget lessons, which is why culture seems to play such a large role.

    We are all crazy drivers which is why jonny cabs will become the only option.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "We are all crazy drivers which is why jonny cabs will become the only option."

      Until you find out that two Johnny Cabs programmed to two different programs by two different companies don't necessarily get along, especially when their directives (like in your example above) directly conflict.

  38. Keven E.

    Life in the fast lane

    Given that we assume, right at the start, that there's an infinite number of human desires and wants to be satisfied there's plenty for people to go off and.......

    .....and satisfy some other human desire, a desire that was previously being entirely unmet.

    ************

    All that social commentary and all you got was (mostly) 3 pages of comentard accountants focusing on the numbers game? These are undoubtedly the first to be replaced by the robots.

    I disagree that there is "an infinite number of human desires", and (clearly) any good capitalist is trying to trim the edges of that *number so as to make things, at least the stock market, predictable (lol)... and at best all that marketing appear to be serving the demand side economy. It's not like they are teaching existentialism in schools...

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: Life in the fast lane

      I suspect there may be an uncountable number of human desires, with new ones being generated and older ones becoming passe. To an extent the markets follow such things.

  39. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "So we could (in a very rough and ready fashion) say that the automation of farming allowed us to have a health care system."

    We could, if we didn't mind people screaming "Correlation does not imply causation!" from the cheap seats.

  40. Mike Taylor

    A timely article

    Just recovering from the annual weekend drive from Garda to the SE UK, this year inconvenienced by a five hour wait at San Gottard and one of our party forgetting our passports and not finding out until we got to Como... Another four hours wasted. Some observations...

    1) the Italian toll systems vary between pre/post pay, but at least you can read which lane is which from some distance away. Only came across a human in the cash lane once. Even locals don't bother with autocards

    2) the French systems I used were all post-pay, no humans, signs are illegible esp at night until 100m away

    3) there was no-one around to take money for my vignette in Switzerland, but they got all my money at the garage

    4) Swiss road signs that say 90 minutes to wait are lying, best to go via Chur and Zurich

    5) The Italian driver is not as scary as the Dutch driver in his urbanpanzerkinderwagen driving at 160km

    6) Except for the gentleman near Milan who decided to stop his car and change his tyre ... on the slip road between autostrada. Last seen chatting cheerfully as a huge trailered lorry was screeching into my lane in an effort not to reduce him to passada

    7) Nobody gets crosser than a Dutch driver in an urbanpanzerkinderwagen when you don't let them push into a toll queue. Seriously...

    But mostly, I wondered why - on the first toll I come to - I can't pair a bank card and my registration plate and thereafter be done.

  41. Tony Sweeney

    Sweden changed which side of the road they drive on in 1967, not the 50s

    They had a referendum in 1955 on whether to change but voted against. However, legislation was passed in 1963 to make the change, which actually occurred at 5 A.M. on Sunday September 3rd, 1967.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Sweden

  42. pyite

    Left or right to merge?

    I used to drive a long way to and from work, so I actually thought about this one. I'm in the U.S. so the sides may be opposite.

    On a road with two directions separated by a line, it would be more dangerous to make the lane toward the center (faster lane) merge. I can easily imagine head-on collisions from this.

    However, for roads that are one direction only, it is better to force the faster lane to merge into the slower.

  43. x 7

    a 34-hour drive isn't a road trip - its more on the lines of a slow-motion crash. The motoring equivalent of CFIT

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