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Jughandles, a Proven Safety Countermeasure

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, jughandles keep traffic flowing and help novice and older motorists perform one of driving’s most dangerous maneuvers -- left-hand turns.

Ocean County  Senator JimnHolzapfel doesn’t like jughandles.  Calling them rush hour “nightmares,” he’s sponsoring a bill (S-207) that would outlaw their construction. The measure, which has been languishing in Trenton for a decade, has caught the attention of the press and appears destined for a hearing.

Whether you love them or hate them, jughandles serve a  valid purpose and aren’t just some quirky Jersey invention. As a safety advocate who has been trained to look at the data, I’m a fan. A 5-year study of 94 New Jersey intersections found lower crash rates where motorists made a “loop” versus the traditional “L.”  That’s because jughandles help keep traffic flowing on high-speed, high volume roadways.  They also eliminate what is proven to be one of the most dangerous maneuvers for novice and older drivers.  

For teens behind the wheel, the problem is judging gaps in traffic and the speed of oncoming traffic -- they simply don’t do either very well due to inexperience.  Older  drivers (who are driving and living longer), meanwhile, struggle with left turns because they have slower reaction times and flexibility issues.  For this reason,  driver training professionals and occupational therapists typically coach seniors to make a series of multiple right turns (essentially a jughandle) rather than a left at a busy intersection to get safely to their destination.

Jughandles also help pedestrians; they reduce the number of lanes those of us traveling on foot must cross.   That’s particularly important in New Jersey, where our fatality rate is double the national average.  Over the past decade, more than 1,400 pedestrians have died in motor vehicle crashes on the state’s roadways.

Senator Holzapfel, however, doesn’t like jughandles because motorists may have to wait through several light changes before they get to turn left.  That doesn’t just happen at jughandles, but at intersections that have dedicated left turning lanes equipped with a green arrow.  The problem is we have far more cars on our roadways than lanes to move them.

No one likes to sit in traffic, but if I have to choose between idling at a jughandle intersection that’s proven to be safer for me and everyone else on the road, I’ll gladly do so.  Congestion haters may insist they’re wasting time and money making a loop.  But when you consider that the annual cost of traffic crashes in our nation ($299.5 billion) is nearly two and half times that of congestion
($121 billion), I’ll take this proven safety countermeasure every time. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kenny Fisher February 14, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Of course jug handles are necessary. How else are you going to pour your drink?
Mark B February 16, 2013 at 11:54 AM
The mommy state is at it again. Jughandles are Jersey roadway nonsense. Center lane turns work in every state except ours. Oh yeah, and banked exit ramps too. The redone exit going from 287N onto 80W was the biggest waste of time and money ever.
stewart resmer February 16, 2013 at 01:05 PM
I have driven in nearly every state of the union, and none, NONE, use jughandles anywhere like NJ does. I have to wonder what it actually costs in total to buy the land and make circles of road beds to turn around and go the other way, and if anyone has ever consider how highly ineffecient jug handles are in terms of travel time, gas/pollution, and other associated costs
bbbnto March 06, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Actually, jughandles are great. I was travelling in the South on a road as busy and high speed limit as Route 10. People making a left STOP in the left lane, while you're bearing on them at 50 mph. Jughandles are great, and always have been. I dare-say, the reason politicians want to get rid of them is so people can BUILD on the jughandle's property...a gas station a 7-11, etc...

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