S3

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A59 s3.JPG
Driver's eye view down a suicide lane in Lancashire.
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S3 refers to an old design standard of a single carriageway road with three lanes. The middle lane (sometimes called the suicide lane, or less commonly chicken lane, due to the hazards posed by an uncontrolled overtaking lane) is shared between both directions. Such layouts were once common, as an easy way of allowing faster traffic to overtake without needing to build dual carriageways. However, this was in the era when lorries had less power and often struggled on the slightest incline, as indeed did small family cars heavily laden for a holiday.

The roads that survive are generally lined whereby the additional lane is 'lost' at either end, rather than gained. In other words, if an S3 road heading north reduces to S2, then the southbound lane is marked continuously, whilst the two northbound lanes lose their separating lines and so become a single lane, reducing in width. These markings are aided by arrows, directing traffic out of the centre lane. There is normally also a Road Narrows sign just in advance of or at the point where the third lane ceases.

In recent years, S3 roads have mostly been phased out in favour of S2+1 roads, which always demarcate a clear priority to one direction of travel, or WS2 roads. In the latter case, the road is lined purely as a two lane road, with the intention that traffic can overtake by straddling the centre line. However, in practice many drivers fail to keep to the left of their lane, limiting the space in the middle of the road, and so not leaving enough room for others to confidently overtake.

Locations

Below is a list of some of the locations where traditional Suicide Lane S3 roads survive. These roads are lined as 3 lanes, without solid white lines or turning lanes.

Road Location Length Notes
A6 Wickersgill 0.2 miles Full S3 Climbing lane
A6 North of Carnforth 0.1 miles Possibly removed
A39 west of Minehead 0.3 miles
A30 Honiton, just east of bypass 0.2 miles
A40 Dowdeswell, east of Cheltenham 0.2 miles Possibly removed
B3084 (former A303) Cholderton - Thruxton 0.1 miles Between two sections of S2+1
A miles
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S3
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A39 Suicide lane between Minehead and Porlock - Coppermine - 5578.jpgA59 s3.JPGLocation 2 - Coppermine - 2677.JPGSaddle Junction - Geograph - 878459.jpgSuicide lane on former A9 Ballinluig - Coppermine - 14894.jpg