On August 18, 2015 KIRO Radio posted an article and interview with WSDOT discussing their new Interactive Map to help drivers understand the new lane design. In addition, there are several pages like this one on their website and even a youtube video to further describe how to use the toll lanes.
(WSDOT has a whole youtube channel of videos for the 405ETL and this is the first time I have seen any youtube videos with more thumbs down votes than thumbs up. Not just one video, but ALL OF THEM.) Consider this: If a highway is so complex that you need to study an interactive map, read web pages and watch videos, it is too complex.
It is no wonder that Washington State Patrol reported accidents have doubled since the toll lanes opened. (“there were 119 collisions on I-405 last week [of September], compared to 48 last year”) Our question to WSDOT: At what point is it no longer an acceptable increase in accidents?
Driving in rush hour traffic is challenging enough to navigate even for drivers who already know the new highway design. Tell us, WSDOT, how will tourists, interstate truckers, and the elderly with slower reflexes and poorer eyesight ever navigate this section of highway safely? What’s more, these are the same people who are least likely to have access to the Internet or have taken the time to find these website pages and studied them in advance.
The signs and pavement markings along this section of highway are complex and in some cases the signs have way too much information and take a driver’s attention away from the road far too long. They need time to read the signs, interpret what they mean, make a decision, and then act. To make matters even worse, some of these signs are changeable message boards and the message on them changes unpredictably. Such highway signs violate all of the transportation best practices that DOT guidelines recommend.
WSDOT, show us any other roadway that generates as many violations as the WSP reported on the 405ETL. This is further proof of both the unintuitive nature of this system and the resentment and frustration of drivers.