Archive for April 6th, 2009

Unfortunate Product Placement

In this Daily News story about a driver blowing a series of traffic lights before causing a fiery crash, I couldn’t help notice the banner for the “World’s First Automated Parking Facility,” from a company called Automotion, in the background of the singed Mercedes.

This was the first I had heard that my humble borough was to be home to such a remarkable contrivance. This bit of text seemed particularly ironic: “Working with a manufacturer that has over 90 automated parking projects worldwide, we have a proven system that delivers cars to their owners within 2 minutes…All without anyone touching the vehicle! No scratches, dings, or accusations of stolen personal items…Because no one ever touches the cars.”

Until they get out on the streets of Brooklyn, that is (and remember kids, it’s the traffic light cameras that we have worry about)…

Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 1:55 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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“She drove without any concept that people might be in her path”

A California woman who was texting while driving has been sentenced to six years for gross vehicular manslaughter. This is still a relatively evolving area of law so the sentence is noteworthy.

And despite heartfelt claims from Matis-Engle’s friends that she was a caring, loving and gentle person, Beatty said it was clear to her that the woman’s personality changed dramatically when behind the wheel of a vehicle.

“She drove without any concept that people might be in her path,” Beatty said.

Bridgett said that Matis-Engle used her cell phone to conduct three separate bill-paying transactions in the final four minutes before the collision and was in the middle of one of those transactions when she slammed into Winn’s car.

She also said that Matis-Engle was well aware of the construction work on Highway 44 because she drove the roadway every day, but ignored eight highway construction warning signs and was concentrating on her cell phone – and not on her driving – when she slammed into Winn’s car near Dersch Road driving at least 66 mph.

These sentences convey an important truth; that most people involved in negligent driving of this sort aren’t “bad people” or homicidal maniacs, and to demonize them in that regard is counter-productive, as it may reinforce the notion among the rest of us that it’s the “other person” we all need to be concerned with, that our own driving is “above average,” etc. What does need to demonized, rather than blithely accepted and tacitly encouraged, is the culture of multi-tasking while driving. There is something else to note here. The incident happened on a road well familiar to the driver, but the circumstances had changed a bit, and the driver, while obviously thinking everything was under control, was actually under a severe attentional deficit — had there been a camera and eye-tracking software in the car we may have even seen the driver looking ahead (but “looking without seeing,” as it goes). A last point to make is that had the driver been intoxicated, the sentence would surely be higher still. As the science comes in on distracted driving, is the distinction between alcohol and texting going to hold?

(thanks Rich)

Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 9:55 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



April 2009

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