Archive for April 29th, 2009


Via Good Magazine, the above image comes from architectural photographer Benny Chan, who will have a show called Traffic!, featuring large-scale overhead photographs of Southland freeway infrastructure at the Pasadena Museum of California, beginning May 31st.

Is that an IHop in the offramp?

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 3:05 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Dude, Where’s My RoboCall?

Strange moment today. In the car, listening to Brian Lehrer talk about a flood of bogus “your car warranty is about to expire” robocalls that have been contaminating America’s cell-phone networks.

I park my car. I see that I have a message on my cell phone. I retrieve the message. A voice comes on “your car warranty is about to expire…”

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 2:56 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Final Four of Everything

If you’re a fan of Final Four-style brackets, and wonder how they might be applied to things like, say, Clint Eastwood films, I’d advise you check out The Final Four of Everything, edited by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir.

I’ve got a spread in there on license plates. Spoiler alert: Maine wins.

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 2:32 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Viewing this video of a texting bus driver who rammed into another vehicle(s) on the highway, a few things came to mind:

1.) The passengers, it seems, saw him texting; did any feel empowered to say something?

2.) Although he apparently tried to deny it, he was caught in the act by camera; which makes me wonder how many crashes related to in-vehicle communication are not reported as such (and this by the way is a very typical distracted-by-mobile-device crash, giving one’s self a presumably comfortable “cushion” and then seeing that cushion instantly disappear).

3.) Psychologists suggest we feel risk more intensely when we feel it is out of our control. Does someone view this behavior with a more critical eye than than they would cast onto their own similar behavior — in which they may be operating under the “illusion of control”? E.g., the surveys that show a majority of people opposing texting while driving, and then substantial numbers saying they’ve done it.

(Horn honk to Hard Drive)

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 9:34 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Enabling Hit and Run in Utah

The law sends a strange message in Utah. If you hit someone while driving a car, and you’re drunk, it’s better to run. Even if you’re caught.

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 8:57 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Scofflaw Bailout

This state of Washington plan to help drivers pay off tickets is up there with Mitterand’s old traffic ticket amnesty programs in terms of its traffic safety benefits.

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 8:39 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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How’s My Traffic Control?

I love the simplicity of this Lego “Satisfaction Post” (满意柱) which apparently has been placed at an intersection in Shanghai to give passerby (pedestrians, presumably) a chance to offer feedback on how they think traffic is being controlled at that location.

The scheme is devilishly simple: Placing a red (!) ring on a peg is a thumbs-up, placing a blue means a thumbs down. The results are there for all to see (there’s also a suggestion box for written comments). A sign at the bottom says: “LEGO reminds you to please abide by traffic rules.”


Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 8:31 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
Random House | Powell’s

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



April 2009
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