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Archive for October 9th, 2008

Speed: Are Teens the Only Problem?

Ford’s new “MyKey” program has been getting a lot of press. As Scientific American sums up:

“MyKey has a transponder chip that, once plugged into the ignition, allows car owners to program their car’s computer. This includes setting the car’s maximum speed limit as high as 80 miles per hour, and to issue warning chimes when the car’s speed reaches 45, 55 or 65 miles per hour. Although a driver can still do a lot of damage at 80 miles per hour, and it exceeds most speed limits, this speed does allow for more maneuverability during highway driving (particularly if a driver needs to pass the car ahead).”

All the press has noted that this is meant as a way for parents to have some influence over their son’s or daughter’s driving. Given the overinvolvement of teens in serious crashes, on balance I think it’s a worthwhile idea (even if an 80 MPH governor is quite beside the point on, say, a normal suburban road).

But I also wonder about the subtle message these sort of technologies and programs send. Indeed, whenever you hear about some program to monitor driver behavior or provide driver feedback, it always seems to be oriented towards teens. This makes sense on the level that learners need the most feedback and monitoring, and are at the highest risk on the road, but it also seems to suggest that the rest of us are quite fine to go at whatever speed we think is OK, and that there’s nothing really to address in that.

When you look at the numbers of speed-related crashes, the evidence suggests the problem is hardly limited to teens. As I’m currently in Canada, I’ll refer to some Canadian research (though there’s little reason to doubt it’s much different in the U.S.).

Looking at this report from Transport Canada, it’s quite clear that younger drivers pose the greatest risk in terms of speed — some one in three fatal crashes happened to drivers between 16-24 (that age range obviously extends beyond the teenage years).

But it hardly stops there. Overall, some eighty percent of speeding drivers in fatal crashes are under 45. And one of the most interesting trends identified was that speed-related crashes were actually growing faster among drivers over 45 years of age than those younger than 45, as the chart below notes.

Clearly, it’s more than a “teen driving” issue — and it raises the question of who’s minding the minders.

Posted on Thursday, October 9th, 2008 at 8:58 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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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
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July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
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Honda R&D Americas
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October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
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November 5
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Yale University
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Monday, February 22
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Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
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Fondo de Prevención Vial
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Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
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Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
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Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
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Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
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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
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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
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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
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May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
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Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
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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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