CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Archive for October 9th, 2009

Musically in Step

We’ve remarked here before on things like Japan’s ‘melody road,’ in which road grooves would play songs only at the proper driving speed, and here comes another form of musically-based behavioral modification, an intriguing transportation “nudge.” The benefit here is I suppose oriented more towards people’s health than actual energy savings (do escalators consume more energy with more passengers?), but it’s an interesting result in light of previous findings that only escalator queues of a certain length will compel people to the stairs (with the exception of efficiency nuts like myself, the frantic guy you see bounding down the stairs at the airport because I can’t stand waiting on the clogged escalators).

(Thanks Robert)

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009 at 9:39 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Extreme Makeover: Speed Bump Edition

Usually Staten Island’s in the news for its law-averse drivers, but here’s a different take: Renegade homegrown traffic engineers.

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009 at 8:40 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
1 Comment. Click here to leave a comment.

As Long as It’s the Right Sound

Lawrence Rosenblum on the hazards of ultra-quiet hybrid cars:

This finding is consistent with a fact many of us have suspected all along: the quietness of slow moving hybrid cars is a danger to all of us—blind and sighted alike. Our auditory systems often work at an implicit level in warning of nearby dangers, allowing us to concentrate on more conscious tasks. Our ability to safely cross a parking lot while we talk to a friend, manage our children, or simply look for where we’ve parked, is aided by our implicit auditory warning system.

In fact, there’s evidence that our brains are exceedingly sensitive to approaching sounds. Research shows that when we hear a sound approach—vs. recede or remain stationary—brain regions associated with attention and motor action are quickly recruited. The auditory brain also possesses a disproportionately large number of cells sensitive to increasing sound loudness: one of the primary cues for perceiving approaching sounds. These brain findings jibe well with perceptual research showing that we consistently over-anticipate the location of approaching sounds. It’s likely that our auditory systems have been designed to use approaching sounds to avoid hazards. If there’s too little sound to effectively engage the system, as is the case with hybrids at low speeds, then any normal distraction becomes hazardous.

But our hyper-sensitivity to approaching sounds can also be part of the solution. It means that only a subtle enhancement of sound should be needed. Hybrids and electric cars won’t need to beep, chirp, or produce an alarm to be audible. Beeps and chirps are likely more distracting than they are perceptually useful. The enhancing sound, needed only at slow speeds, could be either the simulated sounds of a very quiet engine (think cooling fan), or of rolling tires. For purposes of both auditory utility and simple familiarity, the safest sounds are car sounds. And these sounds would be barely noticeable for most of us. Not much sound is needed for the auditory system to warn us about hazards, as long as it’s the right sound.

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009 at 6:17 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
13 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.
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

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
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

 

 

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Twitter
October 2009
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031