Archive for June 23rd, 2008

The Most Dangerous Place to Drive in California

According to the state’s Office of Traffic Safety, the most dangerous spot (according to 2005 stats; takes a while to tally these up and analyze presumably) to drive in California is…

Malibu. It was tops out of 105 cities of its size across the state (and based on vehicle miles traveled). I was a admittedly a bit surprised, but upon further reflection there’s little surprise. It’s not hard to puzzle out the reasons: Speed, booze, and distraction. The Pacific Coast Highway runs right through residential and often crowded areas; although the speed is marked for an already high 45 mph, as the road is engineered to highway standards there’s little immediate incentive for drivers to slow (watch here to see the speed limit compliance patterns of California drivers in action).

Then there’s the alcohol factor — people coming off the beaches are often more than a little liquored up (and let’s not forget that Mel Gibson, who told police he ‘owns Malibu,’ was busted for drunk driving after a night at Moonshadows; the fact that Gibson could have killed someone got rather overshadowed in the hue and cry over his drunken rantings to the cops).

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Posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2008 at 10:41 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Air Traffic

Giving "traffic helicopters" a new name... Photo by Eduardo Martino

In the sort of urban future envisioned by Buckminster Fuller and others, urban traffic congestion would be conquered by personal flying cars, which could use all that empty vertical space to avoid gridlock. There’s something of that spirit found in contemporary Brazil. Sao Paolo, which has legendary traffic, also has some of the highest helicopter traffic rates in the world, as Tom Phillips reports in this Guardian podcast. Wealthy Paulistas, it seems, eschew the city’s cluttered roads, whisking from helipad to helipad, turning two hour slogs into 17-minute jaunts.

I couldn’t help notice one strange detail, lurking in the captions accompanying the wonderful photographs by Eduardo Martino. One of the frequent destinations of helicopters, it seems, is a place called “Alphaville.” It’s a luxury exurb, begun in the 1970s, that seems something of a piece with J.G. Ballard’s Super-Cannes. I know that real estate naming schemes are often risibly pompous or woefully inaccurate, but there’s something astoundingly perverse in naming a city that shares its namesake with the dystopian metropolis of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film, a place where emotion is banned and absolute conformity assured. Then again, the motto of Alphaville in the film is “Silence – Logic -Safety – Prudence,” (these are not necessarily overabundant qualities in Sao Paolo) so maybe the developers were sticking closer to Godard’s vision than we know. I’m just not so sure about that “silence” bit with all the helicopter traffic.

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Posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2008 at 9:20 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
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U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



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June 2008
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