thanks Sila; I have this guy's book, but haven't started reading it yet. It got a really good review, and with this excerpt you posted, I can see why. I think even more dangerous to pedestrians however is the right on red. In that case, I think we have drivers who both don't stop (they "roll through" the red), and they are looking in a direction opposite to that where their car is traveling for a critical few seconds. And finally, our police force seem to treat violations the way they used to treat DUI convictions: with an overly understanding "it could have been any of us" attitude. that all works together to guarantee pedestrians will continue to be hit by motorists turning right on red, and nothing will change that behavior. Chip ------------------------------ Chip Orange Database Administrator Florida Public Service Commission Chip.Orange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (850) 413-6314 (Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Florida Public Service Commission.) > -----Original Message----- > From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx > [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Sila Miller > Sent: Friday, May 28, 2010 5:49 AM > To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx > Subject: [tabi] Slate Article: Stop! > > > From: <pikachu_kiser@xxxxxxxxxxx> > > If they mean to remove stop signs and have people go unless > cars or people > are in their way, that's wrong! People don't look unless > forced to stop. > Yeah and then add round-abouts to the mix. We'd better be > really careful. > > Link: http://www.slate.com/id/2254863 > > > transport > > Stop! > > Is it possible to design a better stop sign? > > By Tom Vanderbilt > > Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010, at 12:32 PM ET > > > > Check out our Magnum Photos gallery of stop signs. > > > > In an Internet parody called "The Process," a designer is given a > > corporate gig with a simple brief: to design a new stop > sign. "We're > > seeing reports that people don't know what to do at an > intersection," he > > is told, and from there it descends in an absurd spiral of > tweaks and > > redesigns, with the designer's creative vision cast against > the slow > > strangulation of groupthink. While the video is a hilarious > send-up of the > > corporate design process, its premise-that designing an > effective stop > > sign is actually a simple task-couldn't be farther from the truth. > > > > In reality, the design of the stop sign, however seemingly > settled, is not > > necessarily ideal. In 1998, for example, there were more > than 700,000 > > crashes at intersections marked-or "controlled," as > engineers say-by stop > > signs. More than 3,000 of these were fatal. Laura Bush's > new biography, > > Speaking From the Heart, highlights the stop sign's role in > the fatal > > crash she caused in high school: She drove through an > intersection marked > > by a stop sign, striking the car of a good friend and > killing him. She > > notes, among other factors, that the stop sign was too > small (current > > signs are larger, and mounted higher, among other changes). > > > > We don't know what the fatality numbers would look like if > modern stop > > signs were replaced by something else or taken out > altogether, but the > > fact that the sign is at least indirectly implicated in > several thousand > > deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries every year > suggests that > > traffic engineers should at least look into improving, or > replacing, the > > device. > > > > Indeed, Gary Lauder, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, was > just the latest to > > propose a redesign of the stop sign during a recent and > much-discussed TED > > presentation. Using the example of a three-way intersection > in which a > > minor road ended in a "T" at a major road, with stop signs > all the way > > around, Lauder calculated that the stopping led to a > collective yearly > > loss in fuel and time valued at roughly $112,000. Why not > just use a yield > > sign on the minor approach? Well, at certain times of the > day a queue > > backs up there, and cars have trouble making the turn. So > Lauder proposed > > a hybrid "stop-yield" sign, simply labeled "Take Turns," > paired with the > > instruction: "If cars are waiting please stop and alternate." > > > > More on the viability of Lauder's design in a moment. But > first it's worth > > considering how we got the sign we have now. Like many > forms of traffic > > instruction, the stop sign has murky origins. It was > adapted from railway > > controls but without rigorous scientific testing. As > Kenneth Todd has > > pointed out, "the traffic control system developed > piecemeal. ... [W]hen > > large numbers of automobiles burst on the scene early in > the century, > > political pressures, guesswork, and panic measures served > as substitutes > > for scientific expertise." Indeed, historian Clay McShane > writes that in > > 1914, "Detroit police sergeant Harry Jackson cut the > corners off a square > > sign to create an easily recognized octagonal shape for > first red stop > > sign or 'boulevard' stop." (The signs were controversial: > McShane notes > > that "Illinois courts briefly ruled stop signs illegal in 1922 as a > > violation of the rights of individuals to cross streets.") > By 1927, a > > rough standardization of the sign was set in place by ! > > the American Association of State Highway Officials. An > octagonal shape, > > with red letters on a yellow background. It wasn't until > nearly three > > decades later that the current design-white letters on a red > > background-was settled upon, in a 1954 supplement to the > Manual of Uniform > > Traffic Control Devices, the operative rulebook for traffic > engineers. Is > > the current design as good as it could be? There are two > ways to think > > about that problem. We must ask: Do drivers see stop signs? > And, more > > importantly, what do they do when they see them? > > > > For nearly a century, it seems, drivers have been ignoring > stop signs. In > > a 1934 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, > for example, > > F.H. Allport examined driver behavior at an intersection > with a stop sign > > with approaching cross traffic. A majority (75.5 percent) > of drivers came > > to a full stop-no surprise given the imminent danger. But > what about in > > cases where no cross-traffic was visible? Would people > still stop? A 1968 > > study in Berkeley, Calif., published in Law & Society > Review, found that > > just 14 percent of drivers brought their cars to a full > stop "without > > being forced to do so by cross traffic" (the so-called > "California roll" > > was the norm). > > > > No one has more doggedly pursued the question of stop-sign > compliance than > > John Trinkaus, who conducted an annual stopping survey at the same > > intersection for nine straight years in the 1970s and '80s, > finding a > > creeping decline. In his culminating 1997 masterwork, "Stop Sign > > Compliance: A Final Look," Trinkaus revisits his old > intersection and > > finds that the percentage of people making a full stop had > dropped from 37 > > percent in 1979 to a mere 3 percent. > > > > Why did this happen? There are several ways to read the > data (and they are > > not necessarily mutually exclusive). On the one hand, > traffic is a social > > environment, and authors like Robert Putnam in Bowling > Alone, or Jean > > Twenge in Generation Me, have argued that stop sign > scofflawism is one > > minor indicator, among many, of a larger societal shift: a > decline of > > civility and reciprocity, a lesser willingness to follow > social rules. The > > argument is that a society marked by increased self-regard > (and hence less > > regard for others), has neither the inclination nor the situational > > awareness required to accommodate others, whether by > signaling one's > > intentions, stopping for pedestrians in a crosswalk, or heeding the > > familiar red octagon. On the other hand, traffic engineers > have long known > > that excessive signage declines in effectiveness. This > points to something > > of a Catch-22. Residents of a neighborhood may complain > about drivers > > speeding down their street and petition the city to in! > > stall stop signs. But stop signs are not a safety device as > such, nor a > > traffic-calming device: They exist to assign right of way. > Faced with more > > stop signs, some studies have shown, drivers may actually > drive faster to > > make up time lost for stopping at (or really, slowing through) the > > intersection; the more signs installed, the lower the compliance. > > > > John Staddon, a professor of psychology at Duke University, > notes another > > problem: "The overabundance of stop signs teaches drivers > to be less > > observant of cross traffic and to exercise less judgment when > > driving-instead, they look for signs and drive according to > what the signs > > tell them to do." He reserves particular opprobrium for the > four-way stop. > > The rules of engagement are somewhat informal-most drivers > take it to be > > "first in, first out." What if two drivers arrive at the same time? > > Traffic laws state the driver to the right has the right of > way (good luck > > with that). If four cars arrive simultaneously-well, it's > best that they > > do not. "Remind me," asks Staddon, "aside from bewildering > the driver, > > what's the point of stopping traffic in all four > directions?" The four way > > stop, he argues, "weakens the force of all stop signs by > muddling the main > > question drivers need to answer, namely: Which road has > priority?" (One > > thing four-way stops have in their favor, howe! > > ver, is a superior safety record to two-way stops-and to > traffic signals, > > for that matter). > > > > Which brings us back to Lauder's suggested "Take Turns" > sign. In the > > rarefied TED air, where the world is being saved and the > old certainties > > boldly challenged by 15-minute PowerPoints, the idea seems > sensible and > > perhaps even inspired. But the world of traffic is a more > complicated > > place. For one, given the lack of compliance at stop signs, > what's to > > ensure proper behavior in a less clearly demarcated > situation? What if > > three cars approach simultaneously? What if a driver > approaching fast on > > the main road assumes that his speed gives him priority, while the > > entering driver thinks the fact that he's pulled up to the > new sign first > > gives him priority? (The costs estimated by Lauder in lost > wages and fuel > > are vastly less than the costs of a fatal crash). And what > should cars do > > if pedestrians are present? Lauder is right about the > futility of that > > intersection, but wrong in his solution: If the money saved > could indeed > > buy the adjacent property, then the best solution would be! > > to simply install the safest and most smoothly flowing > solution of all: > > A roundabout. > > > > Of course, there are plenty of intersections in America that are > > "uncontrolled." In Portland and Seattle, for example, local > neighborhoods > > are filled with any number of four-way intersections > without any signs. > > And somehow drivers continue to negotiate these > intersections safely, year > > after year, in the absence of clear instruction. > > > > If traffic volumes rise above a certain threshold or a > crash pattern > > evolves, other measures are taken-a roundabout may be built, > > traffic-calming measures deployed, or signage installed. > And it is these > > latter cases, when some form of signage is required, that > brings us to the > > question: Does the stop sign need to be reformed? Actually, > the "stopping > > occasion," as the viral parody put it, has been tinkered > with quite a bit. > > Engineers have sought to remedy visibility and compliance > problems by > > adding any number of add-on accessories to the stop sign, > among them "stop > > lines" painted on the road, rumble strips in advance of the > stop, or > > flashing red lights on top of signs. One study tested a > stop sign beneath > > which were posted a pair of LED eyes, roving back and > forth-the idea was a > > meant as a reminder to look both ways. The study reported a > reduction in > > "right-angle conflicts"-the most dangerous thing about > > intersections-though this may have merely been a novelty effect! > > . > > > > Interestingly, eyes were more effective than a "look both > ways" text > > add-on. But what if the sign is not visible to begin > with-what if it's > > obscured by a low-hanging branch or a double-parked truck? > That's the > > thinking behind a new stop sign treatment being tested in > Nye County, > > Nevada. Called "Drivers Alert," it attaches a secondary > stop sign to the > > back of the stop sign across the intersection, giving the > driver two > > chances to see the sign. It also graphically advises > whether cross traffic > > is meant to stop or not, a fix that others have suggested. > (Some engineers > > have proposed making stop signs at two-way stops orange, to > immediately > > distinguish them from four-way stops.) Whether this effort > is superfluous > > given existing visibility-reinforcing treatments (e.g., the > stop bar) or, > > per Staddon, simply gives the dumbed-down driver more > things to look at > > apart from what's happening on the road itself is open for debate. > > > > The proposed solution also raises the interesting question > of how we see > > (or do not see) stop signs. In large part, we see stop > signs because they > > tend to exist where we expect them to exist (trouble begins > when our > > "expectancy" is violated). But in crashes, the largest > problem is not > > visibility but driver behavior-drivers either do not come > to a full stop > > or pull out too close to an approaching car (one study > found that only 17 > > percent of crashes at stop-sign controlled intersections > involved drivers > > who "blew" the sign). In this regard trying to improve > driver behavior > > through better signage is as futile as fighting illiteracy > with better > > fonts. > > > > Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. > > ArtforumPrintI.D.Design ObserverWiredWilson QuarterlyNew York Times > > MagazineLondon Review of Books > > > > Illustration by Robert Neubecker. > > > > > > Copyright 2007 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC > > > Check out the TABI resource web page at > http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI > and please make suggestions for new material. > > > > if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the > freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the > address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word > "unsubscribe" in the subject. > Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.