Home / Car News / I Can’t Stop Watching Awful Drivers Overcook This Weird Exit Ramp

I Can’t Stop Watching Awful Drivers Overcook This Weird Exit Ramp

Exit Ramp Wasted

After spending a preposterous amount of time rebooting my laptop and a less preposterous amount of time obsessing over the minutiae of weird Canadian-market E46 BMW 320is and E90 BMW 323is, the gods of the Interballs gave me a gold mine of content in the form of a quick video where heaps of poor drivers experience understeer in a rather pricey manner. How so? By overcooking an exit ramp harder than Clark Griswold’s Christmas turkey and sending it straight into the barrier. Here, have a look.

Bam! Right off the road, leaving a trail of debris and sometimes sparks in their wake. It’s not just the poor judgment in this video that gets me, it’s the awful car control that follows. Check out the white 3-Series at the 15 second mark. Not only does the driver trim every single plant by the roadside, they don’t even stop until they smack into the left quarter panel of some poor sod’s Ram. It’s a similar deal with the red Mazda CX-5 at the 52 second mark which just keeps on going, brake lamps unlit, until it’s almost cleared the intersection. You know that pedal to the left of the throttle? If you’re having an off, stamp on the damn thing like you’re trying to fend off a rabid weasel.

If one idiot has a crash, it’s exclusively poor driving. If two idiots have near-identical crashes, it’s a fluke. If three or more idiots have near-identical crashes, it’s time to evaluate the infrastructure. Let’s pull up the crash scene on Google Maps so we can get a better picture of what’s going on.

Exit Ramp 1
Screenshot: Google Streetview

Welcome to the scene of the crashes, the southbound I-5 Union Street exit ramp in Seattle. I’ll admit, I’ve seen my fair share of weird highway exits, but this one’s particularly crappy. The exit starts in an underpass, then kinks left before a very sharp blind right with an intersection basically right at the end of the tunnel. As far as sightlines go here, they’re pretty awful. While there are signs warning of an upcoming traffic light and recommending a 20 mph (30 km/h) exit ramp speed, the speed warning signs are placed fairly deep in the corner and aren’t the easiest things to read. Regardless, combining the speed-numbing visuals of an underpass with the terrible sightlines of a blind corner is a bad idea, and that’s before we even get to weather.

off Ramp 2
Screenshot: Google Streetview

Aside from Frasier, grunge music and depression, what is Seattle is famous for? Rain. You know where it doesn’t rain? In tunnels. While most of the drivers in this video wipe out in fairly dry conditions, let’s turn our attention to the crash at the 1:26 mark, where the streets are slick with freshly-fallen moisture. Not only does this Tesla-driving jabroni overcook the turn and hit the wall, once their Silicon Valley shitbox rebounds off of the wall, it continues sliding and rotating for quite a while, completing a full 180-degree rotation and a rare double curb-tap. Bravo moron, not even your stability control could keep you pointed straight.

Exit Ramp Tesla

In the end, all of these crashes could have been prevented by following one simple mantra – drive in an appropriate manner. If you’re familiar enough with your car and an exit ramp, feel free to trail-brake it in and enjoy some Gs at appropriate speeds if no other traffic is around. Otherwise, caution is a good thing to exercise. But hey, I’m not your father. Take off-ramps however you want, just remember that you might suffer some consequences if you get too cocky. In the immortal words of Red Forman, “The reason that bad things happen to you is because you’re a dumbass.”

Video credit: Michael B

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49 Responses

  1. It used to be whenever I headed downtown for a concert I’d take that exit, but one too many times of having someone come in too hot behind me has me taking the Denny exit instead. Not surprised there is a fail compilation of this particular exit, especially with the quality (or lack thereof) of the average Seattle driver.

    1. That’s what I was thinking. Multiple cars just blowing through it, even with OTHER cars actually sitting there stopped. This is clearly people not paying any god damned attention to what’s going on around them.

  2. A speed trap could possibly do the trick here. But the place really needs some change. It’s not even about the drivers. If someone is an idiot, who am I to stop him from killing or injuring himself and his passengers? What I’m worried about is the pedestrians. Some cars were going dangerously fast in an uncontrollable manner through that crossing, others were slamming into the pavement in the lower side of the video.
    And the thing is, everybody slows down almost instinctively when seeing a marked speed camera. And that’s exactly what this place needs.

    1. Speed trap would do fuck all. These crashes aren’t caused by speeding. They’re caused by being distracted.

      Either don’t know where they are and trying to figure it out on their phone. Or paying attention to their phone and realizing they were about to miss the exit. Or both…

  3. Well, as the 11 ft. 8 in. bridge taught us, sometimes not even the most visible of signs can stop stupidity. You’d think that they’d at least put some speed bumps or something in there to get people to slow down.

  4. I can’t be the only one who heard the tires screeching before the car appears and got super excited every time…it’s like a DJ’s intro music before a drunk stripper goes on stage where you already know she’s gonna fall off immediately. That was fuckin’ hilarious to watch.

  5. The Seattle area has a number of pretty poorly designed freeway interchanges and offramps. I spent my whole life cursing Caltrans, but moving to Washington made me more appreciative for a number of things they do.

    But still… goddamn Caltrans!!!

  6. I don’t even understand how they build up that much speed seeing as I5 in that area is almost always at a crawl unless it’s the middle of the night.
    Funny that it rains 8 months out of the year here and somehow nobody knows how to drive in it. I know this exit, it’s not that difficult. These people simply aren’t paying attention.

  7. I work in Seattle, and have been through that off-ramp. Poor design combined with widespread ineptitude when it comes to driving makes navigating the city a nightmare. I lived in SoCal for four years in the Marine Corps and you’d see a lot of stupidity driving around, but it was aggressive and on purpose. People in Western Washington just seem to be generally ignorant on how to drive wether it’s camping in blind spots on the freeway or a fundamental lack of understanding how merging works. I have to lock my breaks at least once every drive home because a shocking number of people think switching lanes necessitates a complete stop prior on the interstates. If I wasn’t moving up at work at an unexpected rate I’d move in a heartbeat.

  8. My favorite part is the Jersey barrier that looks like the wall at Darlington. So clearly this is an awful design and there’s not even remotely enough signage. I’d ask if Seattle even cares, but given the rest of Seattle, I’d venture to guess they do not.

  9. If you ride, the second screenshot showing the exit just gives you the willies.

    You can imagine handling the unexpected turn at speed just fine, hanging off the inside a little even…and then plowing headfirst right into the back of a stopped truck just beyond. Shudder.

  10. Eh… it’s an off-ramp, but unlike most off-ramps it is extremely constrained by the surrounding buildings. It can be quite safely navigated by any reasonable driver paying the slightest bit of attention, as many people do every day.

    It also has a frankly ridiculous number of LARGE and REFLECTIVE signs warning about the corner.

    The issue is Seattle drivers are among the worst (as in most oblivious and uncaring about the road, there vehicles, or anything else that other road-goers pay attention to) in the world, and it’s getting worse by the day. I’m currently trying to find a safe shitbox to daily, as I don’t trust any of these muppets.

  11. I looked at the street view of that tunnel. When you enter the recommended speed is 30 MPH. When you get in the exit lane there’s a sign recommending 20 MPH. There are lots of those arrow signs too.Maybe putting a flashing light on that 20 MPH sign would help, but I am inclined to say that these are crappy drivers. As you point out their control once realizing their errors is abysmal. I wish the U.S. had real driving tests.

  12. Seattlites, help me out: is this a new or old ramp? I know that I-5 through Seattle has been extensively rebuilt over the past ten years, but I don’t know whether this is a legacy of the old design, or some fresh new hell.

    1. @wesley – it’s been there forever and it’s super weird. What the street view doesn’t really make clear is it’s not just “a tunnel” – you’re going under the convention center and when you enter it, there is a weird sort of valet entrance on your right. Then it takes a hard turn and instead of a freeway you’re in the middle of the downtown street grid. Obviously no excuse for fucking things up this badly this frequently but it’s like nothing else and if you ponder it for too long, you’re gonna end up in a concrete wall.

      1. Not sure why my comment is stuck in moderator, as other comments of mine go through. Here’s a link to the history of I-5 & other highway lids in Seattle, https://lidi5.org/history/ there are pics from 1976 onwards showing the growth of the covering over I-5 & the building of convention center over i-5 causing reconfigure of exit, then building of the 2 Union square building and stairwell that further choked the off ramp. It would be great to post the pics here…

    2. It’s old, been there forever. While it seems like a bad design, it’s basically the only way to actually have an exit onto that street with all of the surrounding buildings, and it’s not particularly unsafe even at double the warning speed. The issue in all of these videos is morons not slowing the slightest bit heading into a sharp curve, but that’s about par for the course for Seattle drivers (I say this as a seattle driver for decades).

  13. Washington has a number of poor designs, some have dumbfounded me on why they exist, (I am a civil engineer). You have your basic stopping, decision, passing and intersection sight distances that all need to be considered on public roads. The northbound exit from I-405 to SR522, (which was completely redone several years ago) has an uneven up and down road profile, and then it sweeps onto a curved bridge with no signage of the curve, and they also put a light under one of the bridges so at night when you come up on the rise of the pavement it looks light headlights coming at you. Some of these areas such as the one in the video, I think they defaulted to whatever fit and went with it and ignored everything else.

  14. I have taken that exit a few times, and I somehow did not realize it was such a horrific place to be (though it is definitely poorly designed). Guess I’m gonna start avoiding that whole intersection whenever I go to Seattle, because I’d hate to be there for one of these.

  15. that’s one of my favorite off ramps in Seattle. I always think, “this is how the west coast builds old east coast engineering mistakes.” Looking down at speedo & seeing you’re doing 45 (or more) as you pass the final 20mph sign and white knuckling the curve.

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