Archive for the ‘Trucks’ Category

Unintentional Acceleration

I’m slow to get to this, but this incredible case of a sideways high-speed shunt in the U.K. is about as dramatic a case you can imagine of how divorced a motorist can be from the world around him.

Via the BBC:

In a bid to release her vehicle, she said she pulled on the handbrake and flashed her hazard lights to try to catch the driver’s attention, as well as that of other road users, but she said it took the lorry driver nearly a minute to notice her.

When he did he was “all over the place”, Mrs Williams said, and finally managed to bring both vehicles to a stop on the hard shoulder.

Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010 at 2:00 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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If You Can’t See My Mirrors

Though I didn’t see the above fine specimen represented, my pal Phil Patton’s treatise on the graphic design of truck warning stickers is well worth a read. Unlike so many other segments of road safety, it is utterly unstandardized, and filled with interesting variation.

That raises an interesting point, how warning someone about the same hazard can involve different strategies. One way is to simply say DON’T, without further explanation. Graphically, this is represented by the classic circle and slash over an icon representing an activity. But another way is to show the consequences of an act. You can warn people away from a behavior by depicting its results. Think of the dramatic arched back of a person in the throes of electrocution in some signs. Verbally, a famous case of this approach is the mother’s classic warning about the Red Ryder B-B gun her son dreams of, in the 1983 film A Christmas Story: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 at 4:21 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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The Real Clunkers

The New Scientist reports on an often-overlooked topic: Truck fuel efficiency, and some efforts to improve it:

While the average fuel efficiency of the US car fleet has almost doubled in the last 40 years, today’s heavy trucks guzzle the same amount of fuel – roughly 30 litres per 100 kilometres – as they did in 1969 (see graph). In 1990, America’s truckers burned the equivalent of 1.6 million barrels (254 million litres) of oil per day, about 10 per cent of the nation’s total consumption. By 2007, this had risen to 2.5 million barrels.

Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 at 1:40 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Every Driver’s Nightmare

Don’t know the whys or whos of this video (and has this driver been canned yet?) But it goes without saying that Romania is among the least safest places to drive in the European Union.

[UPDATE: See comments for further developments…]

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 2:08 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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“I didn’t see any brake lights or emergency flashers”

July 15, 2008 -- An accident involving a tractor-trailer on Highway 40 west of Interstate 270 killed three people and injured 15.

The National Safety Council calls for a full ban on cell phones while driving, a position I in principle agree with (I’d rather it just became the norm rather than a law but sometimes the former requires the latter):

“There is a huge misperception with the public that it’s O.K. if they are using a hands-free phone,” said Janet Froetscher, the council’s president and chief executive. “It’s the same challenge we had with seat belts and drunk driving — we’ve got to get people thinking the same way about cellphones.”

And to give you a little nudge in that direction, here’s a piece from today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch on a truck crash that killed three people:

“Authorities have only described Knight as being inattentive, but a Missouri Highway Patrol report has revealed he admitted to an investigator that he was distracted by a cell phone.

In the report, Knight is quoted as saying, “I reached across the dash to get my cell phone. I flipped the phone open, looked back at traffic, and I was there right at the last car (in the line of cars stuck in traffic). I didn’t see any brake lights or emergency flashers. After I hit the first car, I just remember holding the steering wheel and seeing cars going to my left and right.”

(thanks Jack!)

Posted on Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 2:42 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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A Trucker Says Goodbye to the Road

From an interesting piece in the Australian Herald Sun:

“The reason I finally quit the job I loved – driving big trucks – was that I didn’t want to kill someone. I realised that times have changed and the dangers were too great.

I realised, to my horror, that I could be held responsible for the death of someone else, just because another driver had not been paying enough attention on the road. It can happen just like that.”

Full story here or after the jump.


Posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 at 12:16 pm 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 Transport column to me at:

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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



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