Invariably, the red light and speed camera discussions bring out the legalists who insist that everyone should just obey the regulations even if that means more government control under the constant eye of law enforcement or their camera proxy.
This follows from the implicit assumption that a person cannot be trusted to regulate his own behavior to produce a safe traffic environment. Yet, social experiments in Europe show just the opposite, that removing traffic signs, however counterintuitive, actually can improve certain traffic situations.
Granted, I don’t believe this would work in all settings. However, it is a welcome sign to see supporting data that goes against the movement by government at all levels to control your behavior under the banner of public safety by enacting what seem to be an increasing number of regulations and their accompanying means of enforcement.
Rather than public safety, bureaucratic growth and the corresponding need to raise taxes is often the unintended consequence of the regulatory approach.
"The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We're losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior," says Dutch traffic guru Hans Monderman, one of the project's co-founders. "The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people's sense of personal responsibility dwindles."
Psychologists have long revealed the senselessness of such exaggerated regulation. About 70 percent of traffic signs are ignored by drivers.
It may sound like chaos, but it's only the lesson drawn from one of the insights of traffic psychology: Drivers will force the accelerator down ruthlessly only in situations where everything has been fully regulated. Where the situation is unclear, they're forced to drive more carefully and cautiously.
"Many people still don't believe that it can work in practice,'' Goedejohann said. ''You just can't imagine with busy roads that suddenly everything will change and the cars will actually slow down and show more consideration."
Google “european cities remove traffic signs” for more examples.
I'd say it's certainly worth a try, I'd like to see a stretch of road uncluttered by signs. "Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"
If you knew you and your kids could die by driving like an idiot, would you still drive like an idiot?
I love the paradox of it!
This won't work in America, I'm afraid. We are one of the very few countries left that still allows frivolous lawsuits. Natural Selection fails here because when anyone fails, they do not reconsider the behavior that lead to that failure. Instead they look for someone else to blame and sue them. Municipalities would be terrified to try this for fear of lawsuits, I think.
Apparently so, since so many people kill themselves and their kids by driving like idiots today. I don't see how eliminating traffic signs will cause them to realize they are driving like idiots.
I total agree on this.
Also, US driving "tests" are nothing compared to many, if not all European driving test. The US driving test, both the written and actual road test, is so dumbed down that anyone can pass it. Take an "experienced" US driver and have them take a UK written/road test, and watch just how laughingly they fail. This is just a blanket statement, but Euros know how to drive, US drivers do not.
The mentality of US drivers is also far different. Here, many drive with the mentality the the road belongs to themselves, and ONLY themselves. Just like johnc said, its not THEIR fault that an accident occurred, it was 100% yours. Most people cannot and will not admit to even being partially wrong, it just has to be someone else.
There is just to much unrealized road rage going on for this to begin to work. People driving around people that are actually driving with a brain just to get to a red light.
People driving around people that are actually driving with a brain just to get to a red light.
I thought it was those with 2 brains. You know one is lost and the other is out looking for it.
drivers fight for space on the roads. One infringing upon space the other driver is attempting to either get to or hold, presents the problem.
Each time I go to Mexico this idea is reinforced. Buses and trucks pass within inches of one another. Large vehicles, mopeds, bicycles and taxis all merge and yield without the constant hornblowing and one finger salutes that happen here in the US. Slower vehicles in a lane are just driven around without the drama and trauma it causes in our country.
Our sense of ownership of space and right of way on the road are much more distorted than that of the drivers of Mexico. Oh and I did not witness one accident on the roadway in my past seven years of travel to the Mexican cities that border the Pacific.
Lawsuits have nothing to do with whether or not traffic would flow better and whether or not there would be fewer accidents or not.
It only talks to the results of having an accident.
And btw, imo, the number of frivilous lawsuits (per accident) would decline if the number of accidents declined.
Also irrelevent imo, because in Europe, they enforce the laws... all of them.
Including, "slower traffic keep right" and minimum speeds, and failure to yield right of way.
Here, instead of enforcing (the latter for example,) they just turn "yielding" intersections into 4-way stops.
Enforce the laws that actually govern traffic flow and safety will follow.
Besides, saying something that works in Europe won't work here implies you think we're somehow naturally stupider than people in Europe. Maybe if we spent more on education and less on traffic cameras (etc.) we could be smarter too.
In part, it's due to those who self-rightiously try to enforce their perspective of the law by imposing themselves in the way of others.
George Carlin put it brilliantly. The guy in front of me is an a@@hole, the guy behind me is an idiot.
There is no doubt that driving in Britain and the rest of Europe is much easier and better than in the US or Canada. Why are the drivers so much better? I don't know.
Yes, it may look like chaos, but everyone knows what they are doing and takes care to let every driver know. Turn signals are on all cars, not like here, where they seem to be an optional extra. Merging and cross-traffic; let the other drivers know what you want to do and they will ease their foot and give you space to do it. Mind you, you'd better how much space you really need and do it quickly, else you'll never get another chance. Oh, btw, merge means one by one. Don't try to sneak after the previous car.
Speed on expressways? Yes it is fast and the fast lane is for passing. If you're not passing, keep to right. If you need to pass the car in front, use your mirrors and check passing traffic, use turn indicators and get out FAST, really speed up and pass the guy in front quickly, then get back in the slower lane immediately. The much faster cars will ease their speed, just a bit to let you do it. If you're slow about, one way or another you'll be taught a lesson.
Yes, driving over there is much different and so much better. I wish we could find out why and somehow follow it over here.
Why are the drivers so much better? I don't know.
In Germany, it takes 4, expensive years to get a full license. That's one of the reasons. Another is, no rust or disrepair is allowed on any vehicle. It's a big fine. All equipment (including tires) must be TUV approved. Wrong tire sizes, speed ratings, etc. are also subject to big fines.
A partial answer to your question.
Hmmmm, taking this "no enforcement" philosophy a little farther----what about no enforcement with our criminal laws--get rid of all police.
I seriously doubt, with America's rich history and social system that it would be anything less than Anarchy. Just because it works in one place, doesn't mean it works for America. I'm not buying into the whole "what is good enough for Europe is good enough for America" mentality that has recently sprung up in our society! And radical is not always better!
It's about doing a better job of enforcing the rules which keep the traffic moving and not trying to protect us from ourselves.
It's about people using their brains.
I would think by your first statement that you disagree with the meaning of the Second Amendment which many people believe derives from the natural law idea of the right to self-defense against assaults to life and liberty. In the near future, citizens may have to assume responsibility for their own safety rather than rely solely on the function of law enforcement to protect them.
Ashtabula County: Judge tells residents to "Arm themselves”
Regarding what you see as a wall of separation between Europe and the US, it’s a matter of perspective. Historically and culturally we owe much to the Old World. And as far as a vision for the future, it would be hubris to dismiss out of hand any examples of social experimentation undertaken there. For instance, consider the increasing cost, human and otherwise, of petroleum extraction and its ramifications on our automobile based culture. When I look around me at all of the single occupancy cars on the freeway I can only think that we could take a lesson or two from the European model on mass transportation. Consider also that the current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in stating, “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized,” perhaps reflects acknowledgement of the reality of Peak Oil whether we like it or not.
US Department of Transportation Calls For End to American Car Culture
Finally, I believe you’re mistaken if you doubt that the concept of limited government is American. That is our foundation and it is a tradition that’s echoed by thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau: “That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” If you take that statement to be true, then you would have to believe the collorary to that which is that trust is the basis of our system. Yet, what we have seen developing with the transvaluation of greed from a vice to a virtue is an erosion of that trust as we see explicit examples of corruption in business and in government. So, it appears up to us to reestablish trust beginning with your neighbor, i.e, from the ground up.
If Chicago is any bellwether of what we should expect the future to be, then I have to say “no thanks”. I choose not to trade my liberty, which includes the individual’s right to privacy free from government interference, in exchange for a false sense of security touted by those folks who promote the idea of safety under the watchful prescient eye of the camera. However imperfect our system of justice is, with its checks and balances, I prefer it to a supposedly flawless system a la Minority Report.
New 911 chief wants private-sector cameras to link in
Cameras make Chicago most closely watched US city
...the fast lane is for passing. If you're not passing, keep to right. If you need to pass the car in front, use your mirrors and check passing traffic, use turn indicators and get out FAST, really speed up and pass the guy in front quickly, then get back in the slower lane immediately. The much faster cars will ease their speed, just a bit to let you do it. If you're slow about (it), one way or another you'll be taught a lesson.
Not2Bright is anything but...
If we are going to start the "euro-rationalization" of our highways I vote for this as the first step.
What senaca (above) said, not withstanding, I just want to be able to drive faster.
in Montana, until the law and order types convinced the courts that it was somehow unconstituional not to have fixed speed limits on rural highways.
Part of the problem, as I see it, is that some drivers try to impose their standards of driving on others. As a example, ie:
There are a lot of Florida drivers who, for what ever reason, decide they need to drive in the far left hand lane where ever they go. Many times these people will be traveling a half car length ahead of (or behind) a vehicle that's just to their right.
If one looks in front of either vehicle one might find a completely open road, but yet the left lane vehicle won't either move ahead of the vehicle on the right.. and then pull in front of it (or slow down enough and pull behind), to allow others to go on by.
Granted, it is within their right to drive as they see fit, but there comes a time when common courtesy should prevail.
It worked just fine in Montana, until the law and order types convinced the courts that it was somehow unconstituional not to have fixed speed limits on rural highways.
If I remember correctly, the problem in Montana was that the statute allowed drivers to drive at any speed they desired, as long as the speed was "reasonable and prudent."
When a driver challenged a speeding ticket, the Montana Supreme Court held that the statute violated due process guarantees under the Montana Constitution as it gave unbridled discretion to law enforcement officers and the statutory terms were vague.
Basically, due process requires that individuals need some sort of guidance so they can avoid falling afoul of the law and law enforcement officers need limits upon their discretion otherwise they can pull over anyone they feel like whenever they feel like.
Rude drivers are everywhere, I have driven all over the USA and Europe and have found little difference. The one thing I have always noticed to be consistent is that the amount of rudeness always increases with traffic density.
Europe is thinking about adapting the Finland method. No set fines for a traffic offense and the Court will look at the severity of the offense and the DRIVER'S NET INCOME to set the fine.
As mentioned they do not know how to get into the right hand lane for nothing.
In Georgia they just passed a law stating that if driving below the speed limit, not minimum speed, you can get a ticket. Next step should be the "drive right" law which is what most of Europe uses. This would make it so that you drive in the right lane and pass in the left lane. Which is how it should be. Also in most of Europe each lane progressing left to right has slower traffic I believe. May have changed since I was there. Also the roads and cars in Europe are made for higher speeds then they are in the US. The autobahn is generally bump and pot hole free. Those that are there will not be there for long.
Sorry Seneca, you did take a lot more liberty at what I said than reading between the lines---I don't think I ever came close to inferring I don't believe in the second amendment, or your analysis of what I am saying regarding liberty or government intrusion into the freedoms we hold dear ---quite the opposite is true.
My only comment is This Is Not Europe, I am just getting tired of the "we have to do it because Europe does it" mentality that has been going around. I don't think they have all of the answers, after all, ----What Happened To American Yankee Ingenuity? It is being replaced with "Gee, Europe is doing it so we should too" mentality. I see this mindset as being a major threat to the freedoms we hold dear in this country.
North America has gone to a me, me, me attitude. Too many values have fallen by the wayside IMO. However, in some places in the EU, the same fate has befallen them.
Maybe we need to return to some of the old ways, as they better suited mankind.
But, I know I'm dreaming...
Historically, I don’t believe we are sufficiently separated from Europe to see its ways as alien. Distinguishing between the mythology and the reality of our origin would be a crucial step. For instance, the ideas pertaining to American independence did not arise ex nihilo, rather the currents of thought circulating prior to and after the birth of our nation often had its philosophical origins in the European experience.
The great doctrine 'All men are created equal' incorporated into the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, was paraphrased from the writing of Philip Mazzei, an Italian-born patriot and pamphleteer, who was a close friend of Jefferson. A few alleged scholars try to discredit Mazzei as the creator of this statement and idea, saying that "there is no mention of it anywhere until after the Declaration was published". This phrase appears in Italian in Mazzei's own hand, written in Italian, several years prior to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Mazzei and Jefferson often exchanged ideas about true liberty and freedom. No one man can take complete credit for the ideals of American democracy.
A better example of the clash of civilizations would be the Islamic world versus the Western liberal democracies. However, the threat to our liberty appears to come from our response to that external conflict as well as internal conflicts such as the various “wars” on things such as drugs and crime. But rather than identifying the enemy as external perhaps we should look closer to home by examining our increasing tendency toward statism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statism).
One has to wonder if the picture we’d see in the looking glass is an image of Chinese capitalism where free market globalism is supported by one party rule and enforced by a police state through technological means.
If you want to talk about American Democracy, it's useful to remember that in the original negotiations, the colonialists were quite prepared to accept the concept of royalty. In fact they would have agreed to remaining loyal subjects of King George.
A major cause of dissent was "Taxation without representation". One proposed solution was that the colonists would have their own Parliament, constituted under the king, in a similar manner to the Parliament in Westminster.
Interesting to surmise what the present would have looked like, if this suggestion had been agreed.
Certainly there are differences but in general political structure it appears similar.
Parliament is to Congress with the House of Lords roughly equivalent to the Senate and the House of Commons to the House of Representatives. A strong Executive branch (President/Vice President) would be analogous to their Prime Minister/King.
An important temporal difference would be the change in attitude regarding the source of legitimate authority deriving from the people versus the idea of the Divine Right of Kings. The American and French Revolutions were an answer to that issue. You can certainly see the movement through time towards the recognition of the individual with its attendant dignities and the recognition of all individuals as citizens with full rights.
But, I know I'm dreaming...
Horse and Buggies?
But then we would have to return to three day funerals!
Your right about the Me me Attitude, however like you said North America doesn't hold the lock on road rage or not being able to control their tempers in general.
there will never be an absoulute perfect world therefore any thing that is done will be wrong
Actually the Divine Right of Kings was essentially eliminated in the UK when William and Mary began their rule, about 100 years before the American Revolution.
If things aren't regulated, how will our government profit?
Horse and Buggies?
But then we would have to return to three day funerals!
Actually, I was thinking of kindness, courtesy, and patience.
The best "radical idea" for traffic safety that I've seen (and unfortunately I can't claim ownership of the idea) is a sharp pointed metal spike mounted on the steering column and pointed at the driver's chest. Get these mounted on all vehicles and drivers will quickly drive much safer.
The obvious corollary to this which has been suggested by several others is that "safety devices" such as seat belts, air bags and other "improvements" that have been mandated actually decrease road safety, since they tend to give the drivers more of a sense of safety and so allow them to take more risky actions while driving.
The question I would ask is, does the ultimate goal of public safety or public health always trump the right of the individual to freely choose his outcome? For instance, regarding contemporary matters, did Congress overstep its authority granted by the US Constitution by issuing an Individual Mandate Tax to punish those citizens who do not obtain the government sanctioned health care? To rephrase the basic question, should we be treated as children not knowing good from bad and let some government officials or policy make the decisions for us?
I realise the world is often shades of gray but to put it into stark contrast: Do I want to live in a world where the supposedly benevolent State chooses for me for my own good or do I want to live in an imperfect, messy world where I have some right to choose for better or worse? Certainly, I would feel horrible if my actions inadvertently led to someone’s death yet does that fear mean I have to live a life less dignified and less actualized, i.e., a diminution of self to be considered less than a fully realized human? Is that too rhetorical?
But here’s the conundrum. I’m all for the concept of enlightened self-interest but in reality the idea that we’re all rational actors who choose the best alternative doesn’t hold much water. Rather it seems that we’re closer to existential actors who choose not the most rational option but the most meaningful one. Meaningful and rational don’t always coincide.
A few tears ago there was a bill in Florida to require all slow drivers to stay in the right lane and if you were in the left lane (even if you were going over the limit) and a car came up behind you, you had to move over to let them pass. Most of the sheriffs were for this law, to cut down on road rage.
But the Gov would not sign it into law.
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