What side of the turnpike should I choose?
August 13, 2011 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Is there a safety difference between the car-only lane and the car/truck/bus lane on the NJ Turnpike? Any other strategic difference?

I must make this choice dozens of time a year going from Philly to NYC or vice versa. When I am with my wife and child, though, I always choose the car-only lane because it seems safer (better odds for car versus car than car versus semi). But, of course, I have no data. Anyone with any data, thoughts, opinions, or superstitions?

Also, any sense of a speed/traffic difference? As a former resident of Exit 9, I am ashamed that I don't know the answer myself.
posted by scblackman to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're going southbound, I always thought that it was easier to do that ridiculous merge where the car/truck lanes come back together if you were in one of the outer (truck) lanes.

I've heard that they're fixing that merge, so maybe it's a moot point by now, but I certainly remember thinking "who the %*#& designed this?" every time I drove through that segment.
posted by schmod at 4:09 PM on August 13, 2011

Trucks and buses are capped at certain speeds. If both lanes are equally crowded, the car-only lane will be faster. If there's a lot of traffic in the car-only lane and not a lot in the truck and bus lane, the truck and bus lane will probably work out to be faster. (Safer, too.)
posted by phunniemee at 4:15 PM on August 13, 2011

I've noticed the truck lanes are frequently less jammed up than the car lanes. Anecdotal though.
posted by zvs at 4:25 PM on August 13, 2011

Agreed. My perception is that the truck lane is less crowded, so I usually take that.
posted by lyra4 at 5:21 PM on August 13, 2011

I always take the truck lane. Most car drivers seem to be afraid of tangling with the big rigs and I usually have a clear left lane and I think there are less troopers in the truck lane. Just my observations.

You can also change your mind by going into a service area and when leaving you get that same choice all over again.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:05 PM on August 14, 2011

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