Video proves a Seattle freeway offramp extremely dangerous

Originally published at: Video proves a Seattle freeway offramp extremely dangerous | Boing Boing


It’s been this way for 50 years. The only thing new is the video camera.




Is this Seattle’s equivalent of the 11 foot 8 bridge?


In that, despite signs leading up to the exit, advising of the very sharp turn and the lights just as you leave the tunnel, there are still people stupid enough not to pay attention and get caught out.


They should put a short bridge right after it for extra laughs.


Yeah the camera is only seeing the end of the exit, and not what’s happening before that makes them come flying out from under the bridge like that.

Maybe I’m just cautious but I never thought that one was any more dangerous or weird than any other Seattle I-5 exit. In fact I often wonder how many trucks get stuck haflway down the Mercer St. ramp from northbound, because you can’t see the sign for the tunnel height until you’re committed to the exit.


We’re going to need another bingo card.

  • “The City is irresponsible for not doing anything.”
  • “Lower the speed limit!”
  • “Lengthen the ramp!”
  • “This one time, when I was taking an exit off a mountain highway…”
  • “The meaning of image isn’t clear.”

yes indeed. There was a repeated suggestion to add a yakety-sax loudspeaker to this recent video-cam installation but it was nixed due to annoying the locals and … it would end up eventually being played over some true tragedy

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Witness the others in the vid waiting patiently at the intersection to be smacked. Seattle’s caffeine pollution?


I notice that the locals all make sure to be as far over to the right as possible, just in case. Also, quite a few seem poised to act while watching their rear view mirrors, because of how many know to ignore the light and get out of the way when necessary.


I bet almost every intersection would have a super cut like this if you put a camera on it for 10 years. I used to live on a corner lot next to a quiet residential intersection, and yet there was a major accident there at least once a year. Another time I lived at a T-intersection and running the stop sign there was so common that motorcycle cops used to camp out in my neighbours’ driveway to rack up the tickets.

As others said above, what’s new is cameras and internet video editing. Intersections have always been treacherous. Certainly there are outliers, like the 11’8(+8) Bridge, but I’d be curious to see this Seattle spot compared to baseline data for the city.


About 5 years ago I lived near an elementary school, and there was a crosswalk right next to my house, with a small island in the middle holding a flashing crosswalk sign. In the 4 years I lived there I saw that thing wiped out by people coming over the hill too fast probably a dozen times. A perfectly straight, well-lit road!


I’ve lived in 6 states (including Washington) and driven in 5 different countries. IMHO Seattle drivers are the worst I’ve ever experienced, except perhaps Jamaica! Just really bad drivers.


The only real problem with that exit is that the cognitive load on people trying to get to that exit can sometimes be incredibly high. If you come in off 520 from the north (which puts you on the left side), you have to do a slide across 4 lanes of traffic to hit the right side exits. Everyone’s doing this at speeds of 60-70.


I was wondering how the heck this happens, and looking at it on Street View, I still don’t get it - it looks pretty straightforward. But I suppose there are enough intoxicated/incompetent drivers out there that if there’s heavy traffic on a route, even the slightest complication causes events like this on the regular. I’ve got a moderate-traffic residential road around the corner from me that dead ends, forcing you to turn onto the intersecting street, and with some regularity, people just… don’t. Despite the fact that road speeds are low and it couldn’t be any more clear the road doesn’t continue - there’s a freakin’ house there, with reflective signs and heavy-duty bollards in front of it - the signs and bollards show signs someone has plowed into them with some regularity. (Sometimes the drivers realize, too late, that they need to turn and plow into the neighbor’s yard instead.) So yeah, I guess it shouldn’t be baffling at all.

I keep thinking about whoever is supposed to maintain the landscaping in the area drivers keep plowing through here - they must think, “fuck it, it’s going to get mown down by drivers regularly, no point in doing anything.”


The worst for me is the 520 to I-5 to Mercer exit (I call it the “death merge”). If you’re coming in from the East Side you have about 3000’ to go from the left-most lane, across 4 lanes of traffic, including merging traffic from the right. It’s challenging in the best of times when there’s no traffic, and simply heart pounding when traffic is bad. I’m a pretty hardened driver and it gives me white knuckles every time.

Here’s an annotated picture I made. It doesn’t really capture just how shitty and dangerous that merge is but I tried.

This awfulness is just a few exits prior to the Union St. exit of this post. Seattle is a paragon of awful highway design.

A bus driver explained to me a while back that the reason it’s such a shit-show is most of the highways were designed and partially built before before the Highway Act was enacted and standardized everything. This is why there’s so many nonsensical elements like left entrances/exits, narrow lane sizes, and hairpin ramps. (Then there’s the ramps to nowhere which are an interesting story in of themselves.)


Oh No Omg GIF by The Office


Interesting to see a road system designed by auto body repair shops. they have to be so pleased with their success.