An Idea for Avoiding Last-Minute Car Accidents

Yesterday I was driving in the middle lane of a 3-lane road when a car ahead of me in the right lane abruptly swerved hard left across all 3 lanes to make a left-hand turn. I was lucky, both because I was paying attention and because they were just far enough ahead of me that they didn’t smash directly into my car (or anyone else).

Our theory for the dangerous, last-minute swerve was that the person thought they needed to make a right-hand turn and before realizing almost too late that they needed to be in the far left lane instead.

I’m sure you’ve been in a similar situation at some point (not necessarily involving a wrong turn, but just some sort of human error during navigation), and you’re faced with a split-second decision: Do you make a risky maneuver, or do you proceed off route and hope that the detour is short? I think the objectively correct decision is to not endanger yourself or others, but in the moment it can be difficult to make that choice.

I think a big part of the problem is the fear that the detour will be significant, and I have an idea that might help: What if navigation systems (like Google Maps or those built into some cars) show you the detour as you’re driving? That way, throughout the route you know that if something goes wrong at the last minute, the alternative really isn’t that bad.

You’ve probably seen something like this when choosing your route: The primary route is often shown in blue, and secondary routes are in gray. In the navigation system, the gray backup route would only appear at the end (near the destination). It’s there that you would see for the duration of the drive that missing the final turn or exit could result in you simply driving around the block…or getting stuck going the wrong way for 15 minutes (which has happened to me on the highway).

What do you think? Would this be a helpful addition to navigation systems? Or is there a better solution?

6 thoughts on “An Idea for Avoiding Last-Minute Car Accidents”

  1. It’s scary!
    I think you have to always remain calm and if you can’t make the turn off in a safe and controlled manner then you just have to suck it up and do those extra miles and time.
    The alternatives are unthinkable .

    Sadly some drivers will always do the reckless thing

    Very happy their reckless manoeuvre didn’t impact you Jamey

  2. Hard to solve for this but yeah glad you’re safe! My thoughts:
    1) I always choose the safe route and go around, but to be fair sometimes it’s tough to gauge what’s happening from the perspective of the car you’re watching from your own car. That person may be doing something completely safe and it just looks dangerous from several car lengths away.
    2) The nav apps on our phones (Waze for example but also Google Maps and Apple Maps) all tell you ahead of time which side of the highway your next exit is on. I think this might be an advantage these apps have versus for example some older built-into-the-dash systems.

  3. A super helpful tip for navigating that I only learned a few years ago is that highway exit numbers are linked to the mile markers so exit 220 will be at mile marker 220. This helps to know if you are close to the exit and need to start getting over

  4. My friend is a producer for this podcast, but this episode is directly relevant to driving in the workplace. As the CEO all driving is work related for you, so hopefully you can use this as some continuing education stuff. The Too Long Didnt Listen is that good driving is trained driving. An app is great, but alertness on the road is crucial. I really hope fully autonomous cars come soon because I shouldnt be alive today from all the close calls Ive been involved in on the road. Try to keep air in the tires and fuel in the tank, and always remember that the police are here to help if you do get into a situation on the road or in life.


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