Catching Up on Some Reading

A few interesting traffic-related things that caught my eye over the holiday break…

“Between 1960 and 2002, the average weight of Americans increased an astonishing 24 pounds. The scientists only looked at passenger vehicle travel, and used 2003 statistics to determine how many people travelled and for what distances. They calculated that it took no less than 938 million gallons of gasoline to carry around the extra weight, compared to what it would have taken if people weighed what they did in 1960.” (Spacing Toronto).

Thai traffic cops forced to wear smile masks, reports the New York Times. “The new cloth masks, which hook behind the ears and cover the mouth and nose, will help “reduce the stress from drivers when they see the police,” said Mr. Somyos, the highway police commander.

Relatedly, a new study finds, perhaps not surprisingly, a link between the obesity of nations and their rates of cycling and walking. “Based on transportation data from 2000, Europeans walked an average of 382 kilometers per person a year compared to Americans at 140 kilometers a year. They also bicycled more, 188 kilometers a year to 40 kilometers a year for Americans… Health data in 2002 showed that the U.S., at 23.9 percent, had the highest rate of obesity of any country in the study. Switzerland had the lowest at 8 percent while the Netherlands had 8.1 percent and Sweden had 9.4 percent. These statistics are based on health interview surveys that rely on self-report of height and weight.”

The New York Times calls for a higher fuel tax, while David Levinson considers what to do as the revenue from a gas tax dries up.

No Wonder They Call It “No Park Slope”: “In the survey, the average length of residents’ searches for parking was 27 minutes, though a lucky 40 percent said they found parking in 10 minutes or less.” Via the New York Times.

One in Three Drivers Given Wrong Directions by GPS (One-Quarter Have Chucked Their Road Atlases).

Ford goes for the Prius Effect: “”The main question hybrid drivers had was, ‘How do I know I’m getting the most out of my hybrid,'” said Jeff Greenberg, Ford senior technical leader. “We needed to create a system that better communicates with drivers and gives them the tools to maximize fuel efficiency. That’s what SmartGauge with EcoGuide does.” Via the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Los Angeles Times parses the finer points of the state’s new ban on texting-while-driving. Indiana, meanwhile, mulls a ban, but bizarrely only for drivers younger than 18 (you’d arguably save more lives by simply banning drivers under 18)

Are appletinis making the road less safe?

Even as traffic fatalities overall decline, a new record is set for law enforcement officials killed on the road.

The “How’s My Driving” sticker idea spreads (via Road King).

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 1st, 2009 at 4:01 pm and is filed under Etc., Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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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:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

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For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

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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



January 2009

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