June 23, 2008

Fewer traffic signs can lead to fewer casualties

I'm intrigued by the policy of Verkeersbordvrij (Dutch for "free of traffic signs"), the idea that eliminating excessive traffic signage can bring improvements in traffic flow and safety through reliance on spontaneous order. In one experiment, the Dutch town of Drachten noted a vast improvement in safety at one of its busiest junctions: it suffered 36 casualties over four years, but this figure plummeted to two over the two years following the change.

It is suspected that drivers are less passive, and thus more attentive and alert, when they have to hack their own way around, without instructive signs micromanaging the details. This is certainly in keeping with the driving habits I witnessed in Jamaica, where cab drivers blitz around grazing goats and kids on bikes, and honk first and hit the brakes later. Jon O. shared similar observations from his experiences in Mexico City.

The Wikipedia entry for Hans Monderman, the engineer who pioneered the idea of “shared space,” links to a lecture from Monderman and a video tour of Drachten.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Chase Purdy said...

I remember reading about this to Tony sometime during the school year. It's a pretty interesting idea...and apparently it works!

June 23, 2008 at 2:18 PM 
Blogger K. Jan Harvey said...

See, this is why I want to hasten the development of hover crafts.

June 24, 2008 at 3:46 PM 

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