CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Archive for November 16th, 2009

Traffic Safety Film of the Week

I couldn’t resist this image of an autonomous truck versus autonomous car showdown at the DARPA urban challenge race a few years back. One wonders what the algorithm is for determining propensity to back up — if the other guy is bigger than you?

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Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 3:03 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

How’s Your Driving? Check Your Fingers

From an intriguing new study, titled (spoiler alert!) “Digit ratio (2D:4D) is associated with traffic violations for male frequent car drivers,” by Andreas Schwerdtfeger, Regina Heimsa, and Johannes Heera, published in the current Accident Analysis and Prevention, which examines so-called “digit ratio” in the context of driving.

What’s digit ratio, you ask?

The ratio of the finger length of the index finger (2D) relative to the ring finger (4D) (2D:4D; digit ratio) represents a putative marker of prenatal hormone exposure. Specifically, the length of the fourth finger (ring finger) seems to be affected more strongly by testosterone exposure during fetal development, whereas the length of the second (index) finger seems to be more closely related to prenatal estrogen exposure (Manning, 2002). There is evidence for the hypothesis that digit ratio is related to prenatal androgens such that higher testosterone relative to estrogen exposure is associated with a lower digit ratio (e.g., [Brown et al., 2002a], [Brown et al., 2002b], [Lutchmaya et al., 2004] and [Ökten et al., 2002]). This association seems to be influenced by the action of the Homebox (so-called Hox) genes, which control differentiation of digits and the urogenital system including testes and ovaries (e.g., Kondo et al., 1997 T. Kondo, J. Zakany, J.W. Innis and D. Duboule, Of fingers, toes and penises, Nature 390 (1997), p. 29. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (125)[Kondo et al., 1997] and [Pauls et al., 2006]). Indeed, males have been found to exhibit a lower digit ratio (i.e., relatively shorter index finger length than ring finger length) than females, reflecting a preponderance of ontogenetic testosterone over estrogen exposure. This difference has been found to emerge during fetal development, to be fixed by the 13th intrauterine week, and to remain stable thereafter ([Garn et al., 1975], [Manning, 2002] and [Trivers et al., 2006]). Thus, digit ratio represents a promising variable for examining organizational effects on the developing brain (e.g., Manning, 2002).

The study looked at a group of German drivers (who worked in sales, it seems, and drove a lot).

It was found that digit ratio was a robust predictor of penalty point entries, even after controlling for other relevant demographic and personality variables. A more masculinized digit ratio (relatively longer ring finger than index finger) was related to more traffic violations. Hence, this result extends previous findings in showing that organizational effects of prenatal androgens might increase not only financial risk-taking behavior (e.g., [Apicella et al., 2008], Coates et al., 2009 J.M. Coates, M. Gurnell and A. Rustichini, Second-to-fourth digit ratio predicts success among high-frequency financial traders, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106 (2009), pp. 623–628. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (6)[Coates et al., 2009] and [van Honk et al., 2004]), but also traffic-related risk behavior in later life, thus enhancing the probability of being prosecuted for traffic infringements. A closer look at the data suggests that a 0.01-point decrease in digit ratio is accompanied by about the same amount of increase in penalty points as is the increase in annual mileage of approximately 20,000 km. Moreover, digit ratio was a more robust predictor of penalty points than years licensed. Taken together, the findings suggest that gonadal hormone exposure in utero might increase traffic violations in later life, in addition to already established risk factors.

Could insurance companies start offering short-finger discounts?

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Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 1:42 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Foot Notes

Ian Walker hates pedestrians.

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Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 9:03 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 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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