Archive for November 4th, 2009

Cars in the (Long) Future

I came this across this passage in Jan Zalasiewicz’ book The Earth After Us, which takes a very long geologic view of the planet — 100 million years in the future (“we would almost certainly have died out long before then”). While our roads might be well preserved under layers of sediment, future archaeologists, it seems, may have to rely on written or pictoral records, or inference, to understand teh actual machines that traveled on them.

The wheeled transport machines that now run in such numbers along them may also fare rather poorly as regards long-term preservation. Were they made of ceramic, concrete or bone they would fossilize, perhaps even rather well. But iron and mild steel easily rust at the surface, and corrode and dissolve in the chemically reducing conditions of burial, while the compaction would crush the structure as effectively as the jaws of a breaker’s yard; rubber and plastic would carbonize, and glass devitrify. It would take some more than averagely good preservation to discern that there were even rotating wheels, and yet more to show that their rotation carried the whole contraption along the ground surface.

I suppose this means, contra Planet of the Apes, the Statue of Liberty won’t make it either.

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 11:30 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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You Am Them, We are They

A Beckett-ian transcript of a self-reported drunk-driving call to 911:

Dispatch: You behind them?
Mary Strey: No, I am them.
Dispatch: You am them?
Mary Strey: Yes, I am them.
Dispatch: Okay, so you want to call and report you’re driving drunk?
Mary Strey: Yes.
Dispatch: Are you still driving right now? You want to stop driving before you get in an accident?
Mary Strey: Yes, I will stop.
Dispatch: You want to stop right now?
Mary Strey: Yes, I will stop right now.

While the driver shouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel to begin with, admittedly she is to be praised for staging her own intervention.

Via Roadguy.

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 9:21 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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My First Congestion

Another delight from Copenhagenize.

Perhaps one could, with Lego Mindstorms, create an electronic congestion charging cordon?

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 9:14 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Pay-as-you-Drive Creeps Ahead in California

The Sacramento Bee notes the state’s insurance commissioner is drafting regulations.

A pay-as-you-drive study last year by the Brookings Institution, a public policy research group, concluded that driving would drop by 8 percent nationwide – and oil consumption by 4 percent – if all motorists paid for car insurance by the mile.

Two-thirds of U.S. households would save money – averaging $270 per car – under pay-as-you-drive policies, which routinely would be adjusted for rural vs. urban driving, the Brookings study concluded.

If some cars are being charged less, presumably some will be charged more, based on more miles driven, but that issue hasn’t been discussed as much. But bringing any granularity to the incredibly inexact pricing regiment of auto insurance is welcome.

(thanks Robert)

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 9:07 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Do Men and Women Commit Different Types of Driving Violations?

This was a question posed to me by an audience member at a recent speaking engagement, based on his observation at his small town’s local courthouse that males seemed to predominate on the speeding offenses, while women seemed more prone to things like traffic signal/stop sign violations.

It’s an interesting question, one that, like many things in traffic, I imagine is difficult to tease out of the official citation statistics (as that wouldn’t give us the exposure data, among other things).

It did put me in mind of a recent study, “Committing driving violations: An observational study comparing city, town and village,” by Tova Rosenbloom and colleagues at Israel’s Bar Ilan University, published in the most recent Journal of Safety Science. This paper looked at five traffic violations (“(a) not wearing a seat belt (seat belt violation); (b) not using a safety seat for a child (safety seat violation for children); (c) not using a speaker while speaking on the phone (on-phone violation); (d) failing to comply with a ‘give way’ sign (‘give way’ sign violation); and (e) stopping in an undesignated area (undesignated stop violation).”) in three settings: City, town, small village.

There was a clear gender effect, but essentially it was that men were more likely to commit violations of any type than women (I didn’t see it gender data coded by violation type), which is not surprising.

But there was another, perhaps more interesting finding: The highest level of violations came not in a city like Tel Aviv, but in the villages (which had around 3,000 and 800 residents).

The researchers speculated a number of reasons: The more complex city driving environment challenges drivers and forces them to pay more attention (they also feel it to be riskier, even if it actually isn’t, which explains greater seat-belt compliance) there may be less law enforcement in the smaller areas, the drivers in the small towns may be more likely to be local drivers (whose familiarity with the road environment breeds a relaxed attitude toward whatever signals and regulations are in force).

And if anyone has seen any studies examining violation types by gender, please advise.

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 9:00 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.

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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
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



November 2009

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