[tabi] Re: Slate Article: Stop!

  • From: "Lynn Evans" <evans-lynn@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 29 May 2010 11:10:52 -0400

Yes the article was quite interesting for me.

I have come across several stories from European countries that have tried getting red of all traffic signals completely and this seems to work.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, May 28, 2010 5:36 PM
Subject: [tabi] Re: Slate Article: Stop!


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
>
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