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Archive for August 4th, 2009

Tying One On (and Leaving the Other on the Floor)

It’s one of those days, and I can’t resist. Via the Beeb:

Police said they were “shocked and appalled” when they pulled over the car south of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory.

They said the 30-can pack of beer was strapped down between two adults in the back, with the five-year-old child unrestrained on the floor.

The driver was handed a fine of A$750 (US$709; £362).

The fine was for failing to ensure a child was wearing a seatbelt as well as driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 3:22 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Safety Film of the Week

In more “letting the kids drive” news — and further proof of how many unqualified drivers and parents there are out there — Canadian officials are looking for the vehicle occupants in question.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 2:54 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Smoking While Driving

I was curious about the comment in the earliest post from Rich, the school bus driver, who noted “I don’t smoke, but I don’t see smoking a cigarette as a highly distracting activity and I doubt that there was ever a fatality in a school bus tied to the driver smoking while driving.”

My first reply was, ‘depends what they’re smoking.’ But then, of course, the first and most obvious reason we wouldn’t want school bus drivers smoking is second-hand smoke (see here for a round-up of the work done on the health effects of smoking in cars).

But I wouldn’t so cavalierly dismiss the idea that smoking could somehow be detrimental to driving (after all, we used to cavalierly dismiss the health risks of smoking itself). As a review of the literature (PDF here) on distracted driving compiled by Monash University researchers Kristie Young, Michael Regan, Mike Hammer (no, for real!) noted:

Smoking is a common activity among drivers, however it can distract drivers as they remove their hands from the wheel to light a cigarette, hold it for an extended period of time and put it out. Several studies have found that smoking while driving increases the risk of being involved in a crash (Brison, 1990; Christie, 1990; Violanti & Marshall, 1996). Brison used a case-controlled study to investigate the risk of a motor vehicle crash in smokers and non-smokers. A self-administered questionnaire was sent out to 1,000 people known to be involved in a motor accident and 1,100 controls who had not been involved in a crash, to obtain information on each driver’s smoking status. The results revealed that smokers had an increased risk of being involved in a motor accident than non-smokers and the tendency to smoke while driving further increased this risk. Brison concluded that the association between smoking and increased crash risk could be the result of three factors: distraction caused by smoking, behavioural differences between smokers and non-smokers, and carbon-monoxide toxicity. A review of the literature by Christie (1990) also revealed that smokers have an increased crash risk compared to non-smokers and this greater risk remains when age, gender, education, alcohol consumption and driving experience are accounted for.

Again, the studies reviewed by Christie offered a range of explanations for the smoking crash risk association, ranging from smoking being a physical distraction to decrements in driving performance due to high levels of carbon-monoxide. Regardless of the exact cause of smokers’ increased risk of being involved in a crash, it is clear that smoking while driving is a hazard. Indeed, research conducted by Stutts et al. (2001) revealed that smoking was a source of distraction in 0.9% of distraction-related crashes, which equated to approximately 12,780 crashes over the 5 year period examined.

Obviously it’s hard to disentangle the physical effects versus the broader socio-demographic factors — that people who smoke are riskier drivers for other reasons — but it’s also hard not to imagine that looking for a cigarette, fumbling for a lighter, etc., don’t equate to potentially dangerous eyes-off-road-time while operating heavy machinery at high speed.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 2:42 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
4 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

‘Jay’-Walking (or Goose-Stepping?)

A Virginia man helps birds cross the road, gets traffic fine, notes the Washington Post.

“They were walking like gentlemen,” Vamosi said, upright and confident. “Like the Beatles on ‘Abbey Road.’ “

The law notes that “pedestrians shall not carelessly or maliciously interfere with the orderly passage of vehicles” (as if that last phrase can actually apply to Fairfax County traffic). No word on whether this applies to avian pedestrians.

I say the trooper’s response should have been: No harm, no fowl.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 1:59 pm 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 Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

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U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from Amazon.co.uk.

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
Toronto

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
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

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

 

 

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