‘It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions’

Tom Farrant is a photographer in the U.K. who’s been documenting the experience of people in the peculiar form of private space in public; i.e., interiors of cars (viewers of Jacques Tati’s Traffic may recall his montages of a similar variety). The above is a photomontage taken from English motorways. What’s striking, apart from the rather blank (verging to unhappy) expression on most people’s faces, is how many turn to look at the camera (that old “sense of being stared at” trope).

I also couldn’t help think of the song by Black Box Recorder:

The English motorway system is beautiful and strange
It’s been there forever, it’s never going to change
It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions
(All you got to do to stay alive is drive)

This entry was posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 9:16 am and is filed under Etc., Uncategorized. 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.

6 Responses to “‘It eliminates all diversions, it eliminates all emotions’”

  1. thm Says:

    This reminds me of Godfrey Reggio’s short film “Evidence”:

  2. Nate Briggs Says:

    The viseral “surge” that people are supposed to feel behind the wheel is something whipped up by marketing wizards, and there is very little evidence for it in real life. Due to the sensory deprivation, automobile travel induces a mild stupor that sometimes crosses over into real sleep. This is part of the explanation for tasks being done while traveling – in the continuing struggle to stay awake.

  3. Adam Says:

    thm got there first…

    I’ve tried doing this in Korea but cars sold here invariably have incredibly (worryingly) dark tinted windows. Anyone know if there’s a limit on how dark car windows can get before they’re a hazard?

  4. Dave in KY Says:

    this is why I stopped. Just 4 miles on the 405 in LA every day was soul-sucking. My friend took it as a personal affront from other motorists when congestion slowed him down, referring to such people as “chumpilstilskins”. I knew there had to be a better way – and there was – the bicycle! 😀

  5. Vagabondblogger Says:

    Great BBC TV mini-series called “Collision” examines how a major car accident started. It’s intriguing, and continually throughout the show, has shots / scenes similar to your photo as the detectives try to re-construct the events. (Your photo reminded me of the show.)

  6. Tom Farrant Says:

    I think ‘mild stupor’ is an excellent description of the state of the motorway goer, but this work isn’t a criticism as such, I personally love the long journey’s and the places my mind goes during, it’s one of the reason for the project, any suggestion where it could go next?

Leave a Reply

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 Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

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

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 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



May 2010
« Apr   Jun »

No, you probably won be compensated one million dollars; however, with the right blend of negotiating skills and patience, your efforts will be substantially rewarded!I have seen up to forty thousand dollars added to starting compensation through diligent negotiations. It is a way to significantly raise your standard of living and sense of self, simply by