Rumble Strips and Risk Compensation
Reader Richard sends along a link to this article, from the Raleigh News and Observer, on distracted driving:
“Sometimes I will zone out and forget I’m driving,” said Tyler, 23. “If I’m on the phone talking about something that takes up all my focus, I’m looking straight ahead – but not even seeing what’s there.”
(as an aside you can read in depth about this phenomenon, and others, this spring). But to continue:
Her dad, Buckley Strandberg, worries that she will never curb her dangerous habit.
But Buckley, an insurance executive, confesses his own weakness for Blackberry and Bluetooth. He feels compelled to conduct business by phone and e-mail on long, lonely drives between his offices in Rocky Mount and Nags Head.
“That’s more than two hours,” said Buckley, 49. “I’m not just going to sit there in the car. I get a lot of work done on that straight, dead stretch of U.S. 64.
“And if I run off the road, there are rumble strips that divert me back onto the road. That has happened occasionally. They seem to work, those rumble strips.”
Apart from the irony of an insurance executive engaging in risky behavior (I suppose the A.I.G. fiasco showed that insurers are hardly immune from not properly anticipating risk), I was particularly intrigued by the last sentence in the excerpt.
I had long taken shoulder rumble strips (the so-called “Sonic Nap Alert Patterns” debuted on the Pennsylvania turnpike) as a passive, essentially invisible safety device that one would only become aware of in moments of emergency and wouldn’t actually influence one’s self-selected level of what they considered safe driving activity. In other words, people’s driving wouldn’t change simply because of the presence of rumble strips (unlike other forms of risk compensation, say, driving a vehicle in which one is seated higher), and that SNAPs made people safer without making them feel safer — an important distinction, to my mind, in traffic safety.
But I may have to reconsider this.
This entry was posted on Friday, January 29th, 2010 at 11:18 am and is filed under Traffic safety. 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.