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Road signs

2004-12-11 18:29:35.168366+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

Ever get in one of those libertarian discussions where one of the examples of places we need rules is for roads and traffic? Turns out that might not be as true as we've thought:

In Denmark, the town of Christianfield stripped the traffic signs and signals from its major intersection and cut the number of serious or fatal accidents a year from three to zero. In England, towns in Suffolk and Wiltshire have removed lane lines from secondary roads in an effort to slow traffic - experts call it "psychological traffic calming." A dozen other towns in the UK are looking to do the same. A study of center-line removal in Wiltshire, conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory, a UK transportation consultancy, found that drivers with no center line to guide them drove more safely and had a 35 percent decrease in the number of accidents.

(thanks to Dave's Picks)

Obvious trade-offs not mentioned in the article: This is trading traffic throughput for safety, 3 to 0 doesn't seem like it's statistically significant until there's several years of data.

[ related topics: Politics Libertarian Psychology, Psychiatry and Personality Automobiles Bicycling ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-13 12:29:05.764366+00 by: meuon

After driving a lot in countries that have minimal 'rules' and markings I have the following observations:

The funny part is, after driving deep into Mexico and all over Costa Rica, driving in this country is difficult. So many lights, signals, signs, lines...

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-13 19:34:25.217067+00 by: ebradway

In Costa Rica they have no road signs or lines in the road (even in the big cities). Things flow amazingly well for two reasons:

  1. Drivers are extremely aware and focused on the act of driving (talking on a cell phone while driving is suicide)
  2. Drivers are courteous

I rode in a taxi from San Jose to Alajuela during rush hour. It took about an hour to travel about 30km. It was dark and raining (de rigeur for the mountains at 6pm). When I saw the traffic we were riding through, I figured it would be a couple hours at best. But unline America, total chaos did not mean total lock up. Nobody moved forward until they had room and at every interection, the driver would honk the horn twice before proceeding. It was amazing to see in action.

In the US, we need rules to give everyone a chance. Otherwise, the assh*les in the Hummers would never stop at intersections.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-13 20:11:23.737864+00 by: Larry Burton

Assh*les drive all sorts of vehicles... at least in Atlanta. I've been cutoff by every car make and year you can think of in just the last two weeks. This is one area where there are no socio-economic boundries. Assh*les have achieved true equality.