Archive for May 11th, 2009

Crimi-Nail Behavior

This piece brings up two issues that have been batted around here recently: Lane-splitting by motorcycles, and distracted drivers. In this case, a motorcyclist stopped at traffic lights was killed after being struck by a driver who was painting her nails (had she been between vehicles, the crash presumably would not have happened). The piece notes another egregious case in which a cyclist was killed by a driver who was “downloading ring tones” on his cell phone — and received nothing more than a “traffic ticket.”

The piece wonders, in that abstract way of lazy journalism, of “where the line should be drawn” in deciding what’s distracting: “Is programming a GPS more of a distraction than tuning the car radio?” Uh, yeah, it actually is, and there’s plenty of research on that — it’s why the car manufacturers don’t let you input addresses while you’re in motion, and they do let you change the radio station.

And the piece also finds the requisite “critics” of criminalizing distracted driving — not surprisingly, it’s a criminal defense attorney!

“Truth be told, anything we’re doing other than giving our full attention to the road is potentially a distraction, but that doesn’t make it a criminal case,” said Darren Kavinoky, a criminal defense attorney who practices in California.

So a glance to the side of the road is the same, in terms of non-criminality, as someone painting her nails while she drove?

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 9:36 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
Comments Off on Crimi-Nail Behavior. Click here to leave a comment.


Yet another driver is implicated in texting while driving — this time a trolley in Boston. Given the trouble that highly trained drivers have with distracting technologies, it doesn’t require much imagination to think what’s happening to the average car driver as they remotely engage.

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 8:36 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
Comments Off on Intexticated. Click here to leave a comment.

The Invisible Hand

David Williams of the Telegraph gives a prototype vehicle equipped with Intelligent Speed Adaptation (what used to be known as a “governor”) a spin through London. The car limits speed to whatever the limit is on the segment — typically 30 mph.

This line struck me:

Like most motorists I want to be law-abiding. Up until now I’d believed I was. But this clever car exposes such self-delusions. Normally I try to keep to 30mph in town but in reality I must have been doing nearer 40 as I never drive this slowly.

Someone recently asked me, “why do people speed?” There’s no short answer to that question (I’ve got 250-page reports tackling the question), but one possibility that must be considered, in light of the above sentences, is that: They actually don’t know how fast they are going. Any number of studies have shown how drivers, particularly when the feedback is noisy — i.e., they’re sitting high up from the road, the car cabin is ultra quiet (or the radio loud), the road is very wide — routinely underestimate their speed.

As we’ve banged on here about many times before, these minor differences in urban speed, while inconsequential and almost imperceptible for the driver, can be of dramatic importance for the pedestrian or cyclist struck by a vehicle.

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 8:30 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
Comments Off on The Invisible Hand. Click here to leave a comment.

Things I Didn’t Know

Ramping up slowly here, folks, and it’s staggering how much happens in the world of traffic in a week — there are dozens of things I would have posted on, had my attentions not been elsewhere.

With Hummer on the verge of extinction, save for its purchase by some Chinese manufacturer looking for a new market niche for emerging oligarchs, I came across this piece by Salon on the rise and fall of America’s most unbeloved car brand. This bit struck me in particular:

Beginning in 1996, a series of tax laws combine to create large tax credits for certain Hummer buyers. By 2002, the New York Times reports that, thanks to changes in the tax code during the Bush administration, an eligible buyer can deduct $34,912 of the $48,800 base price of the Hummer.

God does that now seem like a piece of Bush-era lunacy (and keep in mind at the same time the deduction for hybrid vehicles was being capped and restricted). That whopping deduction supposedly reflected the Hummer’s role as a “light duty truck,” and hence a work vehicle for yeoman farmers and the like, though the only people I ever saw driving them looked dressed for nothing for labor intensive than a day on the links — and they were certainly never hauling anything beyond a pair of jet-skis or ATVs (and don’t get me started on those!). In retrospect they were the perfect emblem of the Bush interregnum, a totem of entitlement, profligacy, social and personal insecurity, militarism as a form of consumption, and absolute pretension — “all cattle and no hat.”

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 8:12 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
Comments Off on Things I Didn’t Know. 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 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 2009

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