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Archive for February 25th, 2010

A Driving Problem, Not a Texting Problem

I’ve always thought that most people really do not like to drive, or at least drive all that much. Why would they otherwise be so constantly engaged in non-driving activities?

Clive Thompson makes this point in an interesting new column at Wired.

Texting while driving is, in essence, a wake-up call to America. It illustrates our real, and bigger, predicament: The country is currently better suited to cars than to communication. This is completely bonkers.

Thompson has an idea for a technological solution to the problem:

So what can we do? We should change our focus to the other side of the equation and curtail not the texting but the driving. This may sound a bit facetious, but I’m serious. When we worry about driving and texting, we assume that the most important thing the person is doing is piloting the car. But what if the most important thing they’re doing is texting? How do we free them up so they can text without needing to worry about driving?

The answer, of course, is public transit. In many parts of the world where texting has become ingrained in daily life — like Japan and Europe — public transit is so plentiful that there hasn’t been a major texting-while-driving crisis. You don’t endanger anyone’s life while quietly tapping out messages during your train ride to work in Tokyo or Berlin.

I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say, for the current crop of young drivers, that texting — staying in electronic touch — is far more important than the act of driving. They also protest that they are uniquely well adapted to “handle” such behavior, overlooking the inconvenient fact that all the major studies of texting/cell-phone distraction have been conducted on college students, not at retirement homes.

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Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 8:55 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
13 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Next Hundred Million

I’ve reviewed Joel Kotkin’s new book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, over at the Wilson Quarterly. It begins thusly:

Joel Kotkin, along with his ­some-time ­nemesis Richard Florida, is perhaps the leading purveyor of a kind of ­psycho­economic demography, a predictive chronicler armed with Census tract data, Pew surveys, and some old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, all recounted in an urgent, assuaging, insider-y ­tone—­a kind of Kiplinger Report for the national soul. I can imagine Kotkin and Florida randomly encountering each ­other—­in, say, the Admiral’s Club at DFW, as each is en route to his assignation with civic leaders eager to sup the ­sooth—­and engaging in a ­dueling-­PowerPoint exer­cise, with Florida touting his “creative class” metro­poles and their ­cappuccino-­fueled dyna­mism, and Kotkin his “ephem­eral cities”—places such as Port­land that are elaborate stage sets for hip urban play, ultimately overregulated and hostile to the wants of average Ameri­cans, who would find fuller expression of their economic (and reproductive) potential in a place such as Boise. Only one man would be left standing amid the acrid tang of overheated hard drives, but I’m not sure ­which.

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Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 8:49 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 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

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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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