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Archive for the ‘Traffic safety’ Category

Fogbrooms

Wondering what ever became of New Jersey’s ‘fogbrooms,’ as per this Time article, 1967:

Ordinary hazards of driving are compounded in New Jersey, where meteorology, topography and industrial air pollution often produce dense fogs that suddenly blot out the road ahead. Fog is so familiar a problem in some sections of the state that permanent electric signs have been erected along the New Jersey Turnpike to flash warnings of fog and to cut speed limits. But New Jersey motorists may soon have a clearer view. By borrowing a discovery used to produce water in Chile, state transportation officials hope to be able to sweep long stretches of highway clear of fog.

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Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2011 at 9:07 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
2 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Children at Play (And at the Wheel)

My latest Slate column is up, examining the problems with “Children at Play” traffic signs (the headline, which is never the writer’s, may overstate things a bit…)

If the sign is so disliked by the profession charged with maintaining order and safety on our streets, why do we seem to see so many of them? In a word: Parents. Talk to a town engineer, and you’ll often get the sense it’s easier to put up a sign than to explain to local residents why the sign shouldn’t be put up. (This official notes that “Children at Play” signs are the second-most-common question he’s asked at town meetings.) Residents have also been known to put up their own signs, perhaps using the DIY instructions provided by eHow (which notes, in a baseless assertion typical of the whole discussion, that “Notifying these drivers there are children at play may reduce your child’s risk”). States and municipalities are also free to sanction their own signs (hence the rise of “autistic child” traffic signs).

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Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 9:09 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
9 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

A Response to Hainline, Steisel, and Weinshall

I am glad that my posting on the Prospect Park West bike lanes occasioned a serious and thoughtful response (see the comments).

I wanted to reply to a few points.

They write:

(1) PPW is not simply an arterial roadway between intersecting streets (as is the adjacent roadway inside Prospect Park, which, we have argued, would be a more appropriate location for a two-way bike lane). Rather, PPW borders high-density residential blocks—with a school and elder-care facility (on one side of the street) and entrances to Prospect Park (on the other). This means that on a less-than-one-mile stretch of roadway, thousands of residents and park-goers are continuously entering or exiting school buses, wheel-chair vans, taxis, or driveways, while dozens of Fresh Direct, UPS, Fedex, USPS trucks, moving vans, and other delivery vehicles are also blocking one of the two remaining traffic lanes. This requires that drivers in the blocked lane continuously shift into a single more-heavily-used traffic lane to avoid the blockage. And since this single lane is now narrower on a significant stretch of PPW, if not the entire street (as our measurements, pace Vanderbilt’s assertion to the contrary, clearly show), there is less margin to avoid car doors opening, drivers or passengers squeezing into their vehicles, parents lifting babies from their car-seats, cars edging into or out of parking spots, or side view mirrors extending from vehicles. These circumstances, rather than producing a “calming feeling,” are more likely to produce irritated impatience, at best.

I admit that the studies I referred to are for road types different from PPW; in part this is a necessity because of the rather unique nature of PPW itself. But I am interested here in their description of all the exiting school buses, UPS trucks, parents getting babies out of cars, Fresh Direct vans, etc. Given this huge amount of stopped traffic, and pedestrian activity, to my mind the most important safety benefit we could bring to those users is a reduction of the speeds on that street — which were typically well above the speed limit prior to the installation of the bike lane. Speed, and the violating of right of way — not lane changing and merging — is the root cause of the vast majority of serious traffic injury in New York City. As I’ve said repeatedly, drivers, in their ‘irritated impatience,’ have tended to use PPW as a high speed arterial to neighborhoods beyond Park Slope rather than the neighborhood street it should be. I will take an infinite number of bent mirrors over the lives or health of any one person.

In their second point, they note:

“In addition to the option of moving the lane onto the adjacent roadway inside the park, making the PPW bike-lane one-way is the other proposal we have made as members of “Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes.”

I would take a one-way bike lane over no bike lane; but as a condition of that one-way status, I would call for a protected one-way bike lane, in the other direction, on Eighth Avenue, which suffers from some of the same speed problems as PPW.

They then note:

(1) Vanderbilt’s basic argument relies on the perception of increased safety that roadway users (drivers, bikers, and pedestrians) may have when more drivers and riders are using fewer and narrower lanes, because their awareness of other roadway users is heightened. But this perception of increased safety is not what users of PPW have experienced. In a self-selected survey of over 3,000 Brooklynites conducted by Councilmembers Lander and Levin, most people—bikers were the only exception—reported feeling less safe after the bike lane was installed (Ref. 2).

This misrepresents what I have said, and indeed highlights a problem: Perception of safety and actual safety in traffic are not always the same. When subjects have been asked to identify what they think are crash hot spots in certain locations, for example, they often choose places with low numbers of crashes, not the actual hot spots. When roundabouts are installed, it’s quite common for the local populace to protest that their safety has been compromised — when in fact, roundabouts, as have been documented in any number of studies, tend to make things safer for all road users. ‘Shared space’ experiments in Europe and the U.K. have shown a similar disconnect between perceived and actual safety.

But let’s stick to what we know: The actual numbers from PPW, which are now available, via the Brooklyn Paper:

“Crashes are down from an average of 30 in six months to 25, or 16 percent.

• Crashes that cause injuries are down from 5.3 in six months to two, a whopping 63-percent drop.

• Before the project, a crash was twice as likely to include an injury.

• Injuries to all street users dropped 21 percent.

The data also found that since the lane was installed last June, there have been no reported pedestrian injuries and no pedestrian or cyclist injuries from pedestrian-bike crashes.”

Granted, crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles tend to be underreported, but vehicle crashes, particularly involving injury, are not — and by this measure, the addition of the lanes has actually made for a safer environment for all road users. An increase in active transportation; a decrease in injury — I fail to see this as a problem.

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Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 10:33 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
10 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Painted Roundabout

From somewhere in Germany, I believe (would be curious to know the exact location), a roundabout with nothing in the center save paint. I’d be curious about the stats for this intersection; on the whole it seems more or less orderly (there’s confusion but low-speed confusion), but some people just seem to blow straight through as if they had a green light in a signalized intersection.

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Posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2011 at 1:49 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
23 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Stranger than Fiction

I was intrigued by this passage from a typically fascinating Paris Review interview, this time with science-fiction legend Ray Bradbury:

If I’d lived in the late eighteen hundreds I might have written a story predicting that strange vehicles would soon move across the landscape of the United States and would kill 2,000,000 people in a period of seventy years. Science fiction is not just the art of the possible, but of the obvious. Once the automobile appeared you could have predicted it would destroy as many people as it did.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 at 1:38 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

On Bike Lanes, Road Widths, and Traffic Safety

There was an assertion made in one of the letters (signed by Louise Hainline, Norman Steisel, and Iris Weinshall in response to a recent New York Times editorial on cycling that caught my eye:

When new bike lanes force the same volume of cars and trucks into fewer and narrower traffic lanes, the potential for accidents between cars, trucks and pedestrians goes up rather than down. At Prospect Park West in Brooklyn, for instance, where a two-way bike lane was put in last summer, our eyewitness reports show collisions of one sort or another to be on pace to be triple the former annual rates.

The first point is that while the PPW conversion did take away one travel lane, the width of the existing lanes was not altered. So there may be fewer lanes, but they are not, as the letter argues, “narrower.” It may be that entire street feels narrower, which, as an emerging school of what I’ll call ‘behavioral traffic calming’ argues, is actually a good thing. Drivers, as I’ve quoted Ezra Hauer as saying, “adapt to the road they see.” They either do not see traffic signs or fail to read their meaning correctly. If they see a wide open, long boulevard, they will drive like this.

Even if the lanes were narrowed, as John LaPlante recently argued in the journal of the Institute for Transportation Engineers, “there is no significant crash difference between 10-, 11-, and 12-foot lanes on urban arterials where the speed limit is 45 mph (or less).” (a finding, he notes, that was unfortunately left out of AASHTO’s recent Highway Safety Manual).

And there’s something deeply suspicious about that “eyewitness reports” note; were they actually out there, day after day, meticulously logging conflicts and crashes (tellingly, they make no note of severity)? And why, if everything was so great with the street before, were they even doing these “before” counts? As the case of roundabouts shows, what people perceive as individual danger often does not translate at all to an increase in overall risk; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

But let’s take that notion — that fewer and narrower lanes lead to more crashes. This is a staple of traffic engineering, and in fact it does have some validity — when applied to highway environments (which PPW at times unintentionally resembles). Even here, though, the effects are often not ‘statistically significant’ and ‘more complex than expected.’

But in non-highway environments, there’s all kind of evidence that reducing the number of lanes (a.k.a. the ‘road diet’) can have positive safety benefits. As the Federal Highway Administration has noted:

Road­ diets­ can­ offer­ benefits ­to­ both ­drivers ­and­ pedestrians… road diets may reduce vehicles speeds and vehicle interactions, which could potentially reduce the number and severity of vehicle-to-vehicle crashes. Road diets can also help pedestrians by creating fewer lanes of traffic to cross and by reducing vehicle speeds. A 2001 study found a reduction in pedestrian crashing risk when crossing two-and three-lane roads compared to roads with four or more lanes.

But what if one of those lanes your crossing is a bike lane? Surely that must make things less safe, no? More interactions in less space. In a forthcoming paper to be published in the Journal of Environmental Practice Norman Garrick and Wesley Marshall examined 24 California cities (12 with relatively low traffic fatality rates, 12 with relatively high rates). They found that the cities that had a higher bicycle usage had a better safety rate, not just for cyclists but all road users. They write:

Our results consistently show that, in terms of street network design, high intersection density appears to be related to much lower crash severities. Our street design data also contains strong indications of these trends; for example, the high biking cities tend to have more bike lanes, fewer traffic lanes, and more on-street parking. At the same time, large numbers of bicycle users might also help shift the overall dynamics of the street environment – perhaps by lowering vehicle speeds but also by increasing driver awareness – toward a safer and more sustainable transportation system for all road users.

And as Eric Dumbaugh, of the University of Texas A&M, notes, “most recent research reports that wider lanes on urban streets have little or no safety benefit, at least to the extent that safety is measured in terms of empirical observations of crash incidence” (e.g., Potts, I.B., Harwood, D.F., & Richard, K.R. (2007). Relationship of Lane Width to Safety for Urban and Suburban Arterials. Transportation Research Board 2007 Annual Meeting; Milton, J., & Mannering, F. (1998). The relationship among highway geometries, traffic-related elements and motor-vehicle accident frequencies. Transportation 25, 395–413; and so on).

But the authors of this letter are not trafficking in empirical evidence, even as they allege that the NYC DOT’s data “more puzzlement than enlightenment.” It’s unfortunate that this letter is signed by a former DOT commissioner, and an academic — who should both know that it is evidence and analysis, not vague “eyewitness” reports and random testimony, upon which good science, planning, and safety interventions are made.

And as always, curious to hear of more work either supporting or countering what I’ve said here.

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Posted on Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 at 12:47 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
10 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Traffic Advisory

A number of readers (one is always heartened to discover they exist!) have written in to ask about the ongoing state of this blog, which has admittedly declined in frequency as of late. I am still here, I assure you, but there are several things at work here: 1.) I’ve shifted most of the micro-announcement, interesting-links sort material to Twitter (follow here); my column at Slate.com, meanwhile, covers some of the longer-form material that may otherwise have been treated here. 2.) I’ve had a large number of magazine and other journalistic assignments, some having nothing at all to do with driving or transport, and in the economy of words, paying work must always trump non-paying (and trust me, if this blog was a paying gig there’d be no problem filling it seven days a week with material). And, 3.) I’ve been traveling a lot, for work and for pleasure.

I’ve just in fact returned from Lisbon to find a new paper from Michael Sivak in my inbox (“Toward Understanding the Recent Large Reductions in U.S. Road Fatalities,” in Traffic Injury Prevention), the third of a trilogy of works examining the recent drop in U.S. traffic fatalities; this paper uses the most updated data available, from 2008. As he notes:

From 1994 to 2005, U.S. road fatalities increased by 7 percent, from 40,716 to 43,510. However, from 2005 to 2009, they dropped by 22 percent, to 33,963 in 2009 (see Figure 1). A reduction of such magnitude over such a short time has not occurred since road safety statistics were first kept (starting in 1913), except for the reductions during World War II (National Safety Council 2009).

He essentially finds the decline is greater than might be expected were we simply to factor in the state of the economy over the past few years, and the chart below summarizes where injuries have gone up and where they have gone down in a number of significant categories. There’s other intriguing details — like the decline in repeat DWI crashes, or the downtick in station-wagon crashes — but I’ll leave those for you to sift through.

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Posted on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 at 2:35 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
4 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Can Multi-Use Paths Be Shared Safely?

I was essentially asked this question recently in reference to a tragic case of a jogger killed by a cyclist in Dallas.

Based on some nastiness I’ve experienced on the Brooklyn Bridge, along the Hudson River — and even hearing stories about how people’s enthusiasm for the NYC DOT’s “Summer Streets” program was dampened by inappropriate speed choice of cyclists through the event — I myself have had doubts over this, and I’m wondering what experiences people have had around the country, what remedies they’ve seen, etc. How’s the sharing going on the new Walkway over the Hudson going, for example?

I know people will answer courtesy, common sense, etc. (as well as not listening to loud music w/ear buds while cycling/running), but are there engineering/design strategies that have been used, particularly at crossings and the like? Should fast-moving cyclists (I don’t know the velocity involved in Dallas) simply stick to the road, even when it’s a less than desirable situation?

This is not to say that the real source of pedestrian or cyclist danger is on multi-use paths, and some of the failings of multi-use paths is that they’re simply too small — the majority of room having been given over to the car. But just wondering about ideas.

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Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010 at 11:22 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
37 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Roundaboutgate in Winnipeg

Reader John reports of a swirling political controversy in Winnipeg: Roundabouts. The details are here (note the archaic phrasing of ‘traffic circles’). Somehow the device that has helped reduce crash rates from Alsace to Australia is, in Winnipeg, causing “chaos.”

I’ve said it before: If a driver cannot handle negotiating clearly labeled rights of way at simple, small intersections at low speed, why are we actually giving them the right to be maneuvering heavy, dangerous vehicles on public streets crowded with other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, etc etc? (and not having the sense to stop for a pedestrian about to cross in an intersection, as the video shows, is not down to the design but to the driver).

“It’s a hazard,” one driver said of the roundabouts. I’m glad he thinks that! Because intersections are hazardous locations! But what proceeded them — four-way stop-sign controlled intersections — are hardly a panacea, and indeed linked to far more fatal crashes than roundabouts.

[UPDATE: Good comments from engineers and others below articulating the on-the-ground realities in Winnipeg, which, I might add, I've not been to; I'd be further interested to know the difference between Winnipeg's treatments and that of Seattle — which the Winnipeg engineers say they've based their design on and which seem to not have generated much controversy, and indeed seem to be favored by residents]

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Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010 at 2:34 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
24 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Some Dim

Over at Freakonomics, Steven Dubner wonders about the ethics of dimming headlights in the face of oncoming traffic (e.g., why do drivers perform this everyday altruism in the face of seemingly small consequences for not doing so). He also asks: “What I’d like to know is whether the benefit of dimming your headlights — that is, the benefit of not blinding the oncoming driver — is indeed larger than the benefit of keeping your own brights burning?”

This is a question that people who study vision and lighting and driving have thought about a lot. To summarize a conversation I had with Michael Sivak, at UM-TRI, there’s three distances involved here: The legally required distance to dim one’s lights in the face of oncoming vehicles, the optimal distance for maintaining one’s own visibility (and, I suppose, not blinding the other), and then what drivers’ actually do. Readers of this blog will suspect the last factor does not often match up with the two previous factors (and, I should add, as with many things in driving, the scientific issues around night-time illumination are much more complex than the “average expert driver” — i.e., everyone — realizes).

A paper by Kare Rumar expounds on this question:

From a pure visibility point of view, opposing drivers should never dim their lights, but should drive on high beam through the whole meeting process. There are, however, certainly other reasons for dimming the lights, such as discomfort glare and fatigue over a longer period with repeated high-beam meetings.

The study of Helmers and Rumar (1975) indicates that the improvements in the low beam since the fifties and sixties have been considerable. That is probably the main reason why the high-beam visibility curve and the low-beam visibility curve in later studies do cross each other—at least when the intensity differences between the two opposing high beams are not too large (about triple or less).

When the two opposing high beams differ substantially in intensity, the visibility differences between the two opposing drivers are quite pronounced (see Figure 3). In such situations, it is most probable that the driver with the weaker high beams will be the one who wants to initiate the dimming, because the driver with the weaker high beam experiences substantial disability and discomfort glare. On a straight, flat road, such a driver will want to dim the high beams at a very large distance between the vehicles.

An early dimming means that both drivers will have to drive on low beams for an extensive part of the meeting process. However, as stated above and illustrated in Figures 2 and 3, at larger separations low beams normally offer shorter visibility distances than high beams. This means that an early dimming leads to short visibility distances for a greater distance traveled, for both opposing drivers.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 12:25 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
11 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Street Mirage

This meme has been everywhere on the nets these days, but in case you haven’t see the video.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 7:59 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
6 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Warning: Hologram Ahead

It seems that James Cameron doesn’t have a lock on innovative 3-D imagery: As the Globe and Mail reports:

Motorists travelling on 22nd Street in West Vancouver will be confronted with a 3D image of a little girl chasing a ball in the street starting next Tuesday. The girl will be an optical illusion, but the scenario is very real, according to David Dunne of the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation.

I’m all for illusion-based traffic calming techniques that create the sensation that drivers are driving faster than they really are — and I realize there is no greater challenge in traffic engineering than managing driver speed — but I would have reservations about putting an imaginary obstacle in the middle of the road (perhaps putting the child on the side of the road would be merely enough?). For one, it may, however unlikely, provoke the driver into taking evasive action, thus getting into real trouble. For another, the presence of false hazards may reduce our vigilance to real hazards. And one wonders if this would open the door to 3-D billboards and other projections.

But what do readers think?

(horn honk to David Levinson)

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Posted on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 7:32 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
15 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Autonomy

Via The Register, a VW designer talks about self-driving cars:

Huhnke said that his group wanted to find out if drivers passengers in autonomous cars would feel safe: “If you have an autonomous car driving … do you trust your car? Do you really press the autopilot button and let the car drive you at 60 miles per hour?” So they conducted a study — and were surprised by the results.

“We created a car with a second steering wheel in the rear where the driver couldn’t see it,” he told his audience. “He or she pressed the autopilot button and thought the machine would really drive without human help. Someone drove in the rear seat without being recognized by her or him. Well, you couldn’t imagine: after a few seconds, they already took the newspaper and read the news articles. So they trusted already the machine, which was great.”

Huhnke’s group then pushed its luck: “We also initialized some emergency situations: ‘So please, go back to your steering wheel and take over, we need some help from you,’ and they did it. They put the newspaper back, and just controlled the car through the situation. Then what did they do? Immediately press the button and start it again — it was really amazing.”

The question, of course, from a human factors point of view, is how quickly the car can alert drivers to a particular emergency (and what the warning will be; either a vague “emergency” or the exact diagnosis), and how quickly they can respond (and whether it’s the correct response) after they’ve been “out of the loop.” Would a texting driver with eyes and mind off-road be able to respond to a path intrusion warning that comes just as the car detects it?

(thanks Jeff)

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Posted on Sunday, August 29th, 2010 at 7:30 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
4 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

‘Parking lots are also surprisingly civic…’

Notes Witold Rybczynski, in an interesting slideshow of “ordinary places”:

Parking lots are also surprisingly civic. People politely observe rules of behavior for the sake of the common good, parking between the lines, staying out of the handicapped spaces, driving slowly. It is one place where cars and pedestrians happily coexist.

I’m not sure how happy that coexistence is (e.g., “bad parking”). To wit, this piece from the Washington Post:

[Montgomery County] Employees calculated the numbers and were surprised by the frequency of parking lot accidents. Of the 1,496 pedestrians struck between January 2006 and June 2009, 324 had been hit in parking lots.

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Posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010 at 8:01 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
12 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

The Things In Between

I was struck by this random footnote in Mary Roach’s delightful new book, Packing for Mars.

“The April 1995 issue of the Journal of Trauma includes a case report of a man whose pipe was between his BMW’s airbag and his face when the bag deployed. A piece of the stem shot into his eye, resulting in a “ruptured globe.” The author, a Swiss physician, has a keen globe for detail, noting that “there was tobacco all over the floor” and that the injury was similar to those seen “after the thrust of a pointed cow horn.” The paper concludes with an exhortation to “behave appropriately” — no “drinking from cups … holding articles on the lap, or wearing spectacles while driving.” Not to thrust too pointed a cow horn, but wearing one’s eyeglasses while driving surely prevents more injuries than it causes.”

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Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 at 7:03 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
6 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

What’s the Most Dangerous Thing About Being a Cop? Traffic

Via Sheriff magazine:

The death of law enforcement officers (LEOs) in motor vehicle crashes have increased by 48% in the past 28 years. Between the years 2005 to 2007, 54% of all LEO deaths “in the line of duty” were motor vehicle crash involved. When comparing the fatality rate of LEOs to the general population, during the years from 1996 to 1999 LEOs deaths by motor vehicle crashes were at the same or lower rate than the general population. Since the year 2000 the fatality rate for the general population has steadily declined, but the LEO fatality rate has been increasing.

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Posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 9:00 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
4 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Behavioral Economics and Travel

Mark Solof surveys the nascent intersection of these fields at InTransition magazine.

Much of drivers’ overconfidence stems from an “illusion of control” Ariely said. “When we control something, we feel the risk is lower, even when it is not, and this is especially strong in driving.”

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Posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 8:47 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
3 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

On That New Japanese Pedal Design

A number of people have written in to tell me about the new pedal design in the New York Times (as an aside, I always chuckle a bit when I get NYT links, as I have essentially read the paper seven days a week cover to cover since the late 1980s, when a college professor haughtily advised me it “would make a better person” — but I digress). One even reminded me that I was “harsh” on driver behavior (e.g., in this post).

What I had raised objections to in the whole debate over unintentional acceleration was its actual importance in the overall traffic safety picture; and whether our innovative energies wouldn’t be better focused on things like better impaired driving interventions.

That said, as someone who has written quite a bit on design, I’m always in favor of design that makes everyday life better, or eliminates simple human errors all of us, on one occasion or another, are bound to make. We can chastise the “idiots” who leave their card behind in an ATM, or designers can install a simple intervention, the beep that won’t stop sounding until you’ve removed your card. Of course, there are social issues here as well: Given the older demographic that seemed to be particularly implicated in the unintentional acceleration cases, is it a question of improving the car’s design to accommodate older drivers (in essence making a “Jitterbug” version of the car), or of more closely monitoring and perhaps restricting older drivers?

The bigger issue here, as the article notes, is changing the ingrained mass muscle memory of hundreds of millions of worldwide drivers; i.e., would the shift to a new pedal actually cause more injuries than reducing the (rare) instances of accidental acceleration. After all, the new pedal is just one of a number of design tweaks that have been proposed to improve traffic safety (e.g., changing the colors of brake lights or having them give a special display when they are fully depressed), but as the CHIMSIL showed, it takes years of research and testing to actually get these things implemented — and even then the predicted safety benefits might not meet expectations.

Curious to hear what you human factors folks have to say.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 at 8:06 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
11 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

Trooper Down

Over at the Boston Globe’s “Ideas” Section, I consider a recent spate of cases in which police were struck by cars as they conducted traffic stops.

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Posted on Sunday, July 25th, 2010 at 7:57 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
4 Comments. Click here to leave a comment.

‘Unpreventable Tragedies’


Boy’s Tragic Death Could Have Happened To Any Family With 20-Foot Pet Python

The Onion takes a mordant look at household ‘accidents.’ It’s about snakes, but the parallels with driving are not hard to fathom.

(thanks Peter)

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Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at 6:22 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.

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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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