By on September 15, 2014

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In general, I think the folks around the Motor City drive pretty well. We have our idiosyncrasies, what others might call poor lane discipline we call going for  the open spot, but for the most part I don’t feel like I’m driving among maniacs. Something that I noticed while shooting a video to show our readers the route I take when evaluating a review car for ride and handling is making me question that assessment.

telegrapheightmile

I added a couple of the ramps at the intersection of Telegraph Road and Eight Mile Road to my usual evaluation route because they’re fun to drive and give me a good idea how a car will handle multiple apex turns. If you look at the view from space, you can see why. There are multiple apexes and while there’s some symmetry, no two of the ramps are exactly alike. Also, unlike most ramps, a couple of them have left turns, well, kinks in the middle actually, which gives me an idea how the car handles weight transfer from side to side. I find the ramps there challenging to hit the apexes correctly as well as situate the car appropriately in traffic. In particular, the ramp from eastbound Eight Mile to northbound Telegraph is tricky. You enter the ramp and make a not too tight turn followed by a short straight which leads into a tight decreasing radius turn onto Telegraph. You want to carry speed through the second turn not because you’re playing boy racer on public roads but rather because you’re merging onto a road where the speed limit is 50 mph.

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I generally only take a couple of the ramps regularly, but after driving through most of them perhaps they may be too challenging, too tricky for some drivers. I had noticed that the Armco barriers on the ramps that I did drive on were frequently damaged and the ones that didn’t show signs of contact with cars or trucks were shiny and new, an indication that damaged barriers had been replaced. I didn’t realize just how many accidents there are at that interchange until I shot the video and drove down ramps I’d infrequently seen before.

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Just about every ramp had damage to its roadside barriers. Some drivers wrecked even before they got on the ramps. Even stop and yield signs did not escape the wrath of Detroit area drivers. With some of the damage it was hard for me to even figure out how they managed to do it. I presume that alcohol was involved in at least some of the collisions. As you can see from how shiny some of the damaged Armco barrier is, replacement barriers get wrecked even before they can develop any patina.

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Speaking of patina, ruins and wrecks make great photographs. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to take a bad photo of something wrecked, ruined or abandoned. The damaged barriers make some very interesting shapes. I hope nobody got badly injured making those shapes.


Start the video, then click on the settings icon to select 2D or your choice of 3D formats

To answer the first question in the headline, yes, Detroit area roads are really that bad. How bad are they? Well when you see a medium duty truck slow to a 15 mph crawl in a 40 mph zone so the cargo (or truck) isn’t damaged, you know the roads are somewhere between “is this really paved?” and “the dark side of the moon”. The double whammy of repeated freeze/thaw cycles and a poor state economy for a couple of decades has resulted in potholes, craters and chasms in our roads. Two of the steel rims on my daily driver have been bent.


Start the video, then click on the settings icon to select 2D or your choice of 3D formats

Things are getting better. Just about everyone in the state agrees that the roads need fixing and even our fiscally conservative governor has advocated an increase in the gasoline tax to repave the worst roads here. Some of that attitude in Lansing is changing the facts where the rubber meets the road. Since I shot the video, at least a couple of the roads pictured therein, Greenfield Road in front of the Northland shopping center and Ten Mile Road east of Southfield are currently under repair. It’s my guess that the same contractor paved both roads since both appear to have the same systemic failure at each expansion joint. Aren’t road builders supposed to post performance bonds and give some kind of guarantee?

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As with most of my posts, I tried to work some automotive history into this mix but try as I may I haven’t been able to find out much about the history of Armco barriers or who designed them first. The steel company that gave them their generic name was founded at the end of the 19th century in Ohio as the American Rolling Mill Company, using the initials to rename itself Armco in 1948. Today it’s called AK Steel, a joint venture of Armco and Kawasaki Steel.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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62 Comments on “Are Detroit Area Roads & Drivers Really That Bad?...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    I go into Houston about once a month, so I’m not really use to folks doing 90mph in a 60zone, driving up the side of the road, tailgaiting and it never fails I see one accident every time I go. Not to mention on the tv news, how do you even enter the freeway and express lanes in the wrong direction? Still I don’t think we are too bad, at least when I have to exit and I turn on my indicators they let me in and occaisionally we wave a thankyou.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      I’ve found that anywhere that sells itself on having Southern Hospitality tends to have a lot of rude inhabitants. I don’t know why that is, maybe a sort of compensating effect like “oh, we have Southern Hospitality, of course whatever ignorant thing I’m doing is polite.”

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Having driven in most of the country I will say that Michigan drivers are not bad. Maybe all those armcos are falling prey to the 0259 gas station liquor sales.

  • avatar
    MK

    That’s better than Memphis then. The one thing I learned after moving here in 2010 was that using the turn signals for indicating a lane change or merge just means giving the other inhabitants warning to cut you off. Sad but in heavy traffic I only use indicators for merging or changing lanes when I’m in a fast enough car to complete the maneuver regardless of what my fellow inhabitants do. If I’m in the truck or jeep, forget it! Don’t get me started on the folks who think at 40mph on the on ramp they’re ready to merge into traffic going 75. Yeah not fun.

    Those roads didn’t look that bad to me, unfortunately due the intermodal hub we have all the i40 and i55 heavy vehicles and trailers going through here even on secondary roads so they’re in terrible condition even without a freeze thaw cycle.

    This week I’m in San Diego on business and I can’t believe how nice the roads are! Lol

    • 0 avatar
      mankyman

      I moved to Memphis about 4 years ago. Memphis drivers are truly, truly terrible. I have lived in 20 countries, including India, Pakistan, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Spain, the UK, etc. Folks from Memphis drive like the Turks. They are completely unpredictable and that’s what makes it scary. They never use signals, have terrible lane discipline, pull into traffic at the worst times, etc. On the I-240/40 loop people regularly pass me doing 100+. I see an accident almost every single day on my way home from work. In rainy weather I see as many as 3 or 4 accidents a day. And as far as I can tell, Memphis cops take a laissez faire appoach to traffic policing.

      Since this is a website for car enthusiasts I know that when we’re driving, we always have a “plan B” or a “plan C” in case some fool does something stupid. Here, you have to pray as well.

      Example: Last week I saw a car going 45 mph the wrong way down a curving boulevard. If you’re going the correct way down said boulevard, you might not even perceive what happens until that fool hits you in a head-on. That’s what makes it so scary. But I see stuff like that every day. A few weeks ago I was stopped at a red light and a guy came up behind me at about 50 mph, crossed into the opposing lanes and blew straight through the red light. WTF?

      India was also the home of some very “exciting” drivers, but there at least nothing moves very fast. I think in India you’re legally obligated to blow your horn at least every hundred feet. And there was the one time when I got caught at some railroad tracks and traffic just kind of piled up on both sides of the road, and on both sides of the tracks, waiting for the train to pass. It was like a slow motion chase scene from the Road Warrior. And there was the head-on collision between two semis on a one-lane bridge, complete with both of the windshields being bloody and shattered, one driver’s dead body lying halfway out of the windshield.

      • 0 avatar
        andrewallen

        The chap going past you and through the red light at 50 MPH must be a black taxi driver visiting from Johannesburg, he’s just not familiar with driving a vehicle with functioning brakes or considering anyone but himself.

        The constant hooting in India is to warn other road users and pedestrians of the drivers presence, the Indian driver is absolutely SUPERB at traveling through extremely dense traffic at speeds below 20KMH and absolutely deadly to himself and others as he behaves the same way on the open road as he does in town.

      • 0 avatar
        Roader

        National Highway 8 in Mumbai looks – structurally – like any other Western inner-city highway. 10 or 12 lanes, limited access, acceleration/deceleration ramps, etc. In reality it’s a zoo, with cars and trucks and tuk-tuks and animals and pedestrians…unimaginable to Western drivers. It takes a great deal of skill and concentration to navigate it. National Highway 7 in and around Bangalore is similar. I once saw a pedestrian that had been hit by a car, a woman walking along the highway, who was quite dead, evident by half her skull imbedded in the asphalt. And what other pedestrians did was pile concrete blocks in front of her body to keep other cars from hitting her. This was on National Highway 7. I’m not denigrating India or Indians, I just saying that they have a different way of dealing with all things automotive.

        Being a pedestrian in Saigon is equally exciting. There are few stoplights, no “Walk” signals, just a free flow of bodies and vehicles. So to get across the street, you just walk. You don’t look, you don’t wait for an opening, you don’t adjust you pace, you just walk. And the cars and trucks and motorcycles adjust for you. It’s truly amazing to a Westerner who’s used to all kinds of rules and regulations and signs. Kinda’ scary, but kinda’ fun too.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      The only time in my 35 years of driving that anyone has deliberately refused to let me merge, while I’m using a signal, to the point I missed the exit was in Memphis. The young woman never made eye contact, but she matched speeds varying from 35 to 80 until I let her win.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    No matter what the state, it never fails that some resident will claim that the worst drivers in the country are where the reside. It’s almost a badge of (dis)honor.

    The sad fact is that traffic laws in the US are routinely ignored, speed limits be more like guidelines (arrrr), drivers are distracted, turn signals are vestigial devices, constant mind-numbing gridlock fills drivers with rage, and the speeds and general recklessness seen on the Jersey Turnpike is truly frightening.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Having lived in MI for 20 years, I think the drivers here are not great, but better than average.

    The roads are the WORST anywhere. WORST than NYC and PA in the 1980s (these were horrible). Why? Michigan allows super heavy trucks (that our neighbors in Ohio weigh and charge), freeze and thaw, and we don’t spend enough.

    According to this link (courtesy TTAC), MI takes in 57 cents in tolls, fuel taxes (28 cents), and registration/user fees for every $1 spent on the roads. And MI clearly does not spend enough. Because the roads are so bad, money is spread thin to fix more road (with band-aid fixes), vs properly fixing fewer roads. These are the FACTS.

    http://taxfoundation.org/article/gasoline-taxes-and-user-fees-pay-only-half-state-local-road-spending

    Of course, we have opportunist politicians. Like this specimen. He contends that
    “1) we need to prioritize.” What does that mean?
    “2) Reduce costs.” Unless the people running the state are stupid, how much will you really save? 5%? 10%? Many of the half-ass fixes are because the budget is stretched too thin. Correct repairs COST MORE. They save money in the long run. You can band-aid more potholes with cheaper repairs, but they cost more in the long run.

    So, having implied that MI can do better with what it spend, our suburban specimen leaves the door open to “3) pursue alternative revenue sources that leverage existing state assets in new and innovative ways”. That’s politician speak for higher taxes. But not honest taxes (like raising the tax per gallon), but a shell game that will raise some other, unrelated tax.

    People want something for nothing, and we are seduced by politicians, like this smooth-talker, into believing them. This guy wants to say “I didn’t raise taxes”. He’s also probably getting money from truckers, so he let’s them tear up the roads with 150,000 lb trucks.

    You get what you pay for. That’s why the condition of the pavement here so execrable.

    An honest politician would say: we need to increase road spending 20%, to repair them properly, and then dial spending back to maintain them. To get there, we need to triple the gas tax from $0.39 ro $1.17 for 2 years, and then pull it back to $1.00 per gallon. We also will start weighing the big rigs and charging them for all that wear and tear they cause.

    He’d never be elected, because some one like this guy will call him a “taxer”.

    http://www.freep.com/article/20140914/OPINION05/309140047/Patrick-Colbeck-Increasing-taxes-should-last-option-fixing-our-roads

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Sums it up nicely. Reminds me of here in Denver not so long ago – the state tried to do a tax increase to fix and widen I-25 (the T-REX project), and it failed miserably. However, the voters DID approve a sales tax increase to fund a new Broncos stadium during the same election. You have to love those priorities…but I digress.

      They eventually ended up getting T-REX financed with bonds. So, instead of a hit of a few bucks a year on our state income taxes, we’ll now pay in perpetuity. Fiscal conservatism in action. Again, I digress…

      The new thing is that the DOT wants to do toll lanes for all further expansions going forward. People whine about that too…but if the state put it to the voters, they’d shoot it down (I can see the ad now…”higher taxes so Boulder liberals can have better roads? Vote no…”). So, once again, instead of a couple years of slightly higher taxes, you’ll now have to pay $10 if you want to drive between Denver and Boulder with no traffic. Everyone else who doesn’t want to pay will still sit in traffic…in the same four lanes we have now. Pure genius.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        How are bonds perpetual but an income tax increase isn’t, and how are bonds fiscal conservatism?

        Or did I misunderstand you?

        • 0 avatar
          Roader

          X2. As a Denver resident, I note that US-36, the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, was constructed as a toll road in 1952 and was expected to remain a toll road through 1972. However, the bonds were paid off early so in 1967 that toll road turned into a freeway. Amazing, isn’t it, when fiscal conservatism is allowed to run its course?.

          I guess I could be unlucky enough to have stayed in the hellhole that is Chicagoland, where a single party has ruled since 1932, and toll roads are forever generating income for whores for the State, never paying off their construction bonds, and providing jobs for the politically well-connected forever.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      As a non-Michigander who drives across the Great Lakes State (including Detroit) 2-4 times per year, I firmly agree: better than average drivers (within the context of the US); abysmal roads.

      Neither here nor there, but in the 55 mph era it seemed like Michigan was more lenient on speeding than most other states. Perhaps some sort of nod to the auto industry?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I know of VERY few places on a true highway in Michigan where you will get pulled over for doing 70ish to 75ish mph in any highway section marked 55mph or above.

        • 0 avatar

          You can do 70 mph on Detroit freeways marked 55 with little fear of a ticket unless you happen on a cop. There are exceptions like near the Paw Paw exit on I-94 about 60 miles in from the Indiana state line, but on 70 mph interstates you can do 80 pretty safely. Speed enforcement by the Michigan State Police is pretty sane. Most MSP troopers seem to cruise in the left lane at about 85 mph themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I rarely see anyone on I-75, I-94, I-696, I-275, I-69, etc., get pulled over for a pure speeding violation unless they’re doing well above 70mph (usually pushing 80mph).

            I see a lot of people get pulled over for lane violations and driving like jackwads on those same highways.

            There are exceptions such as M59 between Dequindre & Squirrel (or Adams), or the specific stretch between St. Clair Shores & Moross (and all construction zones, of course).

            Doing 75 most of the times on most of these highways is literally keeping up with the overwhelming majority of traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            State Police typically drive 85 mph on freeways, everywhere in the US. They can spot the fastest drivers easiest that way. That’s any car they’re not passing like they’re standing still.

            If drivers doing 80+ mph aren’t scanning their rearview, 3, 4 times a minute, ZAP!

            I get best results driving 90 mph. Then I can focus on what’s ahead, mostly.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Maybe Michigan needs to raise it’s gas tax, maybe it does not. I just got back today from Clemson South Carolina where I topped off the gas tank at $2.98 in Spartanburg SC (near the BMW factory). I-85 is fine, although underbuilt for the traffic volume, and in far better condition than most Michigan roads. Side roads were also in good shape.

      As a former Wolverine I can tell you that the roads in Michigan were always bad when I grew up and are still bad when I visit. It always seems that Michigan leaders advocate for higher taxes dedicated to improving something that has been allowed to deteriorate, but within a very short time the funds are redirected into the same general fund morass that allowed the deterioration in the first place. If Michigan residents want to later, rinse, repeat, more power to them.

      However, the sight of the thriving upstate SC economy with auto suppliers expanding all along the I-85 corridor is a pretty stark contrast to what has happened in Michigan. And nobody in SC is talking about raising gas taxes.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If Michigan had SC’s climate, it could spend what SC does on roads and get away with it.

        Places with real winters will always have to spend multiples of what other places do on infrastructure, either to build it winter-proof the first time or to continually fix it. That’s just how it is.

  • avatar
    b787

    This article violates Betteridge’s law of headlines.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I was in the Pacific Northwest for several days last week, and it was really quite astounding how much better the roads were than in metro Detroit.

    I think the freeze-thaw cycle, accompanied by the use of salts and snow/ice thawing chemicals, is extraordinarily destructive to road infrastructure, even more so than most people acknowledge.

    The other thing that was a stark contrast between even urban area road near SEATAC and metro Detroit area roads was the lack of trash & debris that was NOT on the sides of Washington State roadways.

    It’s frankly embarrassing how filthy metro Detroit roadway shoulders are, and some of that detritus inevitably makes its way into the actual roadway area, then becoming a vehicle hazard.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      p.s. – OT, but in metro Detroit, 80% of the vehicles are GM, Ford or FCA, while in Washington State, 85% (maybe more) are Japanese, Korean or German.

      I have never seen more Subarus, including many rust free, perfect condition, 8 to 20 year old ones, than during my 5 days in Washington State. It often seemed as if every fourth vehicle was a Subaru.

      Some stereotypes based on geographic region ring true, it would appear.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      PNW resident here. Yes, we all have Subies (myself included). We all play in the mountains and Subies are the perfect car for that. There is no road salt here so there is also no rust. The roads here are *better* than most of the US but *worse* than pretty much anywhere in Europe. There are some advantages to high taxes, particularly in countries with less corruption than you find here.

      The worst roads I’ve encountered in the US are those in the City of Baltimore, with New York City taking second place, but Michigan is very high on the list.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Most of what I saw while there was beautiful, from Bellevue, to (especially) Snoqualmie, to Sammamish.

        It wasn’t until I had to get a hotel near SEATAC the night prior to leaving, and found myself in Kent (and some really sketchy areas near there when looking for Mexican joint to eat at) that I caught a mere glimpse of the not so great.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The highway the airport is on (WA 99, now known as “Tukwila International Boulevard”) has been the sketchiest place in the Seattle metro area since before I was alive.

          Kent is an older suburb that is not decaying gracefully. It has an industrial heart in the Green River Valley which is doing fine, but the rest of it is much worse than it was 20 years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnnyFirebird

          I got pulled over by the Skagit County branch of the state troopers in WA once for going 78 in a 60 zone. I hadn’t noticed the drop in speed limit coming down from Vancouver. The roads in WA (and BC) were pretty decent compared to Quebec’s.

          With the stupid harsh suspension on my SRT4 and big 19s I have to slow down for some terrible expansion joints in Montreal. Drivers honk at me, but, eh, it’s worth having intact wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            You just reminded me that the Skagit County police vehicles that I saw (all 3 or 4) were Ford Explorers (I think).

            In fact, the default police patrol vehicles that I saw, and I was everywhere from SEATAC to Sultan to all parts in between, were nearly exclusively SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      Totally agree, I moved from the greater Seattle area (Kitsap) to MKE almost 2 years ago and was blown away by how harsh the roads are. Not just pot holes, but joints in the road. I’m sure my cars suspension gets more wear here in a month, then a year in the PNW.

      Yep, Subies are the norm, and in PDX are almost required. What I can’t understand is why people need them. Unless you go over the passes or skiing, 4wd only useful a couple days a year, maybe.

      Noticed that also, in the rust belt the big 3 are the norm, with imports being the rarity. PNW also has far more SUV/CUV/Pickups.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I just moved from the Detroit area to the Seattle area. The roads are great and the mountains are a blast. Going back to Ronnie’s question of drivers, the drivers in Michigan are way better. When I lived in there I would say that there are some awful drivers, but nothing compared to Washington drivers. Three guys next to each other driving 45mph on I-5 with a three mile backup behind them is something I see way to regularly.

  • avatar
    otter

    The Southfield Freeway, ca. 1999, before it was rebuilt, still probably qualifies as the worst paved road I’ve seen in the Americas.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    First thing I thought when I saw the overhead pic of the interchange was “No wonder people wreck all the time.” Tight transitions and variable radius turns might be fun for autocross, but they’re a highway engineer’s nightmare. Camry and SUV drivers like steady, unvariable curves in their cloverleafs.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    That last photo looks like a hunk of the Aleutian Zero we captured in WWII and studied to help build the other Hellcat.

  • avatar
    Avatar77

    As a Michigan native now living in the South, I can definitively say that Michigan drivers are good drivers, in the context of the USA. Atlanta drivers are horrific, as is the traffic. At least the roads are decent, unless there’s an ice storm!

    • 0 avatar
      turboprius

      HAHAHAHAHA. So true. January 28, 2014 (Snowmageddon) is still fresh in my memory.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Aye, Sir.

        I’ve taken the plunge in actually navigating the roads myself in Atlanta.

        Good God. SMH

        For something more thrilling, be a passenger in an Atlanta native’s car. Just don’t forget your safety belt.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I watched in awe as 2″ of snow and some ice (the ice I empathize with more so than the snow) literally shut down Atlanta highways – to the point that people abandoned their vehicles or slept overnight in them.

      • 0 avatar
        turboprius

        Being a teenage boy who was born at a hospital in the county, has lived in the same house their whole life, and has traveled outside of the southeast maybe four times, snow is a pretty big deal.

        Snowmageddon was unreal. Like the September 21, 2009 floods. Clarkdale Elementary and the town of Austell were completely destroyed. One of my good friends went there before he moved (likely due to the flooding, but I haven’t asked.) A few years back, my mom and I were traveling around in the Clay Road area (place that was completely underwater on TV), and the roads were cracked and houses were all overgrown and boarded up. I didn’t think the snow and rain, respectively, were going to be that bad, but they had a massive impact on this whole area.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    As a Kentucky resident who frequently visits Michigan, I can say that the drivers who stay in Michigan are at least average, but the ones y’all send south ain’t worth a lick. Seems like there is a never-ending supply of 50 mph left lane bandits with MI plates, each one hell-bent on turning everyone’s trip down I-75 to the Gulf Coast into a three-day ordeal. How the hell do they survive driving on I-275 around Detroit? Love that speedway.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I do a decent amount of business travel and currently PA and TX are on my list of worst roads (conditions wise). Due to the wide temperature extremes TX roads take some serious abuse. And for some reason they make roads out of CONCRETE and not asphalt. The result is large sections of pavement that are misaligned, broken, different heights, etc. I swear the Texas state flower is the orange construction cone. In particular the DFW area is a mess.

    The on-ramp I use daily has similar armco problems as described in the article: the radius tightens as you merge onto the freeway, thus just when you should be accelerating to 55, you really need to slow to about 35. Add in a little water (I’m in South FL where is rains often in the summer) and most people get it wrong and thus its constantly bent, twisted and broken.

    • 0 avatar

      Naah, the reason why you have problems in South FL is that they mix tiny little seashells into the asphalt and the second a drop of water hits it, it becomes as slick as ICE!

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I agree with the PA roads. Corbett and his buddies over in Harrisburg passed increases for every single DOT fee/charge in the name of financing road construction, and yet the roads are still terrible. Smaller roads (i.e. ones without route numbers) were barely fixed at all following the incredibly brutal winter we were hit with, guess all the townships are broke or misappropriating taxpayer funds.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I am sick and tired of people judging cars by entrance ramp speeds. Let me save you some cash with this advice: go learn how to drive properly, learn to judge time-on-distance, and you will have no problems. I drive a Volvo 240 in NYC/CT tri-state area. Auto, not even a turbo. Yeah, some times I enter highway slower than I wished for. Some times I slow down in the on-ramp to let a truck go buy. I never blame my car for where I am on the on-ramp. I often blame drivers in front of me who go 20 on the ramp, 20 at the end of the ramp, enter at 30, and then accelerate. They are morons and should surrender their driver licenses back to PathMark. So I follow them while watching my mirrors. But by the time they finish checking their emails, I am already in the next lane over and passing them. But basically it’s about seeing, seeing in mirrors, accelerating, holding speed and some times letting off the gas. Everything else is just BS (e.g. this car with a V6 is still a great car around town but I would be worried about merging on a highway in it).

    • 0 avatar

      I should point out that the interchange described in the post is not for two limited access freeways. Telegraph and Eight Mile are both divided highways but the speed limit on Telgraph there is 50 mph on on Eight Mile it’s 45. There’s no need to go fast on the ramps, though as I mentioned in the post, on at least one of them you do have to accelerate quickly right after executing a tight, relatively low speed turn. I use those ramps to judge handling, not high speed cornering as one might do on a freeway onramp.

      I’ve driven four cylinder Volvos and Saturns with three speed automatics as well as some fairly sporting cars and all things being equal, having more than adequate power is nice to have when merging or changing lanes.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    If you really want to have a look see at poorly maintained roads, take a fun little trip on over to East St. Louis, Illinois!

    Yup. Give the conditions of those roads a quick gander. You’ll look at “The D” in a whole new, appreciative perspective :)

    Side note: I didn’t see any 5 feet x 5 feet squares full of discarded automotive tires, so Detroit gets at least a couple of points.

    BTW: Rode in a Chicago Taxi once. Put it to you this way: the driver definitely gave the car all he could, lol. But he was still a good driver (driving defensively is a good thing, IMHO), speed limits be damned.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Read the comments, and I see others tend to agree with me…. Michigan I find generally good drivers, in my many visits across the state from Holland to Detroit. In general I find they drive a good 75-80mph, and they keep right. I also like the fact that I rarely see a trooper.

    I actually don’t find the interstates bad at all. Some of the ramps and feeders are pretty bad.

    And the comments about road spending are spot on. I don’t know if all the funds they collect today actually go to the roads or if they siphon off chunks for other spending…so that’s number 1 for me. But yeah, Americans seem to love to just put it on the credit card. Why pay up out of my own wallet for a couple years when I can charge it on the card and use it today and my kids can pay for it?!

    Maybe we’d feel differently if we actually believed the money would be properly used, not wasted on cronies, the roads built properly instead of on the cheap and needing repair in under 5 years, and the temporary tax hike doesn’t remain permanent…

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      As was discussed in another post, although the total state tax on gasoline in MI is one of the highest in the area, most of it goes to our 40th in the country schools. I would suggest syphaning some school money into the road found.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    The ramp from the NB Fisher Freeway to the NB Crysler Freeway just east of Comerica Park/Ford Field is the most ridiculous ramp even implemented. There are rubber and paint streaks on the divider and remnants of damaged cars on the shoulder. At least the experimental Autobahn quality pavement on the Fisher has lasted more than four years.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    No mention of Chicago roads yet?

    Speed cameras on some side streets where people speed right up to the camera and then slow down for the few hundred feet in front of the lens.

    The ridiculously slow speed limit on Lake Shore.

    Taxi drivers who are hell bent on either driving at the speed of light, or slower than a tortoise, and are always on the phone.

    Lake Shore drive idiots who sight see from Downtown to Hollywood then decide they need to go up Hollywood and block traffic turning onto Sheridan.

    The large amount of people who drive around with ear buds in and have no clue on what is going on around them.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    On a side note: “Start the video, then click on the settings icon to select 2D or your choice of 3D formats”

    This indicates a fundamentally flawed design and set of defaults.

    Default to 2D, unless you have some data you’re not sharing that indicates a majority of users *actually use and prefer 3D*.

    Realistically, “don’t bother with 3D at all”, is much more likely the prescription to follow.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you about the defaults but it has nothing to do with 2D or 3D, it’s how the YouTube player works in general. You can’t access the settings icon unless the player has started. As far as I know the 3D settings default to how you last used the player. I will, though, ask folks on the 3D photography mailing list if they know how to force it to play a certain way on default.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    There is, I understand, a direct relationship between road quality and car accidents. When those concrete roads get old the level of grip they provide reduces dramatically and is considerably worse in poor weather. Not only are those road surfaces treacherous but the damage they do to a vehicle’s tires and suspension also dramatically reduces a vehicles ability to stay on said bad road.

  • avatar
    50merc

    If Michigan’s roads are worse than average, Michigan must be doing something wrong. The state has been an industrial powerhouse since the Civil War. It got accustomed to sucking money from all the places that had to buy the cars Detroit made at Detroit’s prices. (I hear the insiders called GM “Generous Motors”.) And all those fine big buildings along the freeways are also testaments to economic prowess. Most Michiganders must live pretty well. Maybe the problem is the money is channeled elsewhere: lavishly funded institutions, excess bureaucracy, lavish public pay and pensions, a large and permanent welfare class, waste, corruption, whatever it may be.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Michigan has done so much wrong in wasting, squandering, dis-saving & p!ssing away what could have been a huge surplus of wealth that it’d take a thesis length white paper to properly and sufficiently explain it.

      Sadly, the majority of other states in our union haven’t done much better in displaying financial discipline and sanity.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Just think how bad Mound is right outside of the GM Tech center. Or any of the mile roads in Macomb county. Every person I know that has visited Metro Detroit comments on how bad the roads are. A friend from New Zealand actually wanted to stop and take pictures of the roads. She couldn’t believe the state of the roads.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    What a timely question as I just returned from the area and not only live in upstate SC discussed above, but i also work as a resident engineer for the state DOT. Michigan drivers seemed just fine to me and the secondary roads sucked, but ours do too so don’t feel bad.

    I’ll say this: a lot of the bad things people think about government are true. There are a couple of reasons that explain part of it. First, the government gets sued a lot, more than anyone I would guess. I can assure you that nearly every serious accident will result in a lawsuit against the applicable government owner of the road. It doesn’t matter if the driver was 3 times the legal blood alcohol limit and admitted to texting at the time of the accident – the DOT gets sued and has to deal with the lawsuit regardless of merit. We pay the same for lawyers as anyone else. Much of government policy is driven by litigation. Second, every single politician wants things for his constituents, he doesn’t give a damn about the state as a whole. Third, senior government agency staff, at least in SC, work “at will”, meaning they can be let go just because. Add all of this up and it equals litigation driven road policy and a real inability to approach a statewide road system in a rational way because everyone who can make a real decision can get gone if he doesn’t make the local bully state representative happy. Some politicians have more weight than others and it creates imbalances. Politicians aren’t bad, they just want to make their constituents happy.

    In SC if you hit one of those end treatment attenuators pictured above and are at fault per highway patrol, your insurance company will get a bill from the DOT for the repair. People are shocked to learn that those things are expensive to replace.

  • avatar

    In my personal experience I have noticed an area’s economy and ones job security plays a huge roll in how good or bad the drivers are. People drive like maniacs when times are good. An economically depressed Detroit area driver who can’t buy a break is going to be wary of speeding tickets, wrecks and insurance premiums going up, that he/she will try to stay out of trouble. An investment banker in Connecticut pulling $600,000 a year is not going to give a rat’s ass. Chicago had the worst drivers in my experience followed by Atlanta and Southern Connecticut. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic all day will bring the worst out of people.

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