Traffic Safety Film of the Week

I’m always fascinated by the U.K. Highway’s Code — not just the sheer amount of material one must absorb for the exam, but the very idea of a national code, which eliminates the weird comparative quirks among state laws here — even though the roads, drivers, and traffic environments are essentially the same (those states where you can drive at 14, a relic of family farm life, even though in places like Iowa agribusiness has taken over and true farm kids are much fewer; or the patchwork quilt of texting/talking laws) — as well as different driver training regimens, not to mention those awkward moments where a driver with multiple DUIs in one state gets one in another state and goes unpunished. My sense too is that the Highway Code as a cultural concept looms larger in the U.K. than our driving laws and training regimen does here (it’s not something much considered once one has the license). In any case, thanks to Chris for the video tip.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 11:20 am and is filed under Traffic Culture, Traffic safety films. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Traffic Safety Film of the Week”

  1. SteveL Says:

    There is of course a de-facto aspect to the highway code which varies from region to region, the set of highway code rules/laws to ignore. Everyone ignores rule 170, give way to pedestrians when turning, but others vary from place to place. For example, in Edinburgh, the first two cars after a light turned red would still go through, everyone else would just wait for that to happen before setting off. This didn’t increase the amount of time any lane got, merely offset its timing.

    As for Bristol, we have noted some discrepancies there too:

  2. chris Hutt Says:

    It’s true that UK drivers are very prone to refer to the Highway Code when criticising the behaviour of cyclists or pedestrians, but become very negligent of it when it comes to their own behaviour.

    I should mention that the video tip came originally from Rob Ainsley’s excellent Real Cycling blog – – where he manages to spot a brief episode in the video that most casual viewers overlook.

  3. John Says:

    So in other words there are bad drivers in the UK too– no surprise there– but the idea of a national code, and high standards, is what the US desperately needs.

    Tom, keep this in mind when commenting on cellphone use. There is quasi-data on it being as dangerous as drunken driving (sic), but the definitive examinination seems to be from

    (Virginia Tech)

    where they used real-world conditions and concluded the danger of using a headset cellphone is a minimal addition (and thus, in the case of national legislature, worth allowing lest it just become a scofflaw). From my personal experience, this is something I’ve maintained in my blog for a while, with some considerable critique.

    Your spokesperson blog should mention this, along with all other attempts to improve driver safety– especially at the driver-wheel interface. I really don’t need to read about celebrity crashes any more than any other crash. Maybe someday you’ll feature my blog.


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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.

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