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Questions & info about the Motor Vehicle Act. Mature discussion only.

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Old 10-19-2009, 01:49 PM   #1
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Letting drivers think for themselves? Recipe for disaster!

On the other hand, it might not be...

Clearly the police here a pro-regulation and enforcement and the general attitude towards road safety in most places around the world focus on the ticketing of bad behavior rather than setting up systems that force drivers to think for themselves and behave in a way that isn't anti-social to other drivers.

Just wanted to get some feedback on this from the officers (and other folks) here...



Quote:
If you find yourself crossing the road in the German town of Bohmte, look both ways – and then perhaps check again.
It has scrapped all its traffic lights and road signs in a radical experiment designed to make the streets safer. Yesterday, the local council said the scheme was a complete success.

In the four weeks since the signs were ripped up, there has not been a single accident.

Officials wanted to test the theory that the 13,000 drivers who use the town every day would take extra care and show each other greater consideration if they were not told what to do.

They secured a £1.8million grant from the European Union to set up the scheme in the town near Hanover.

Four weeks ago, Bohmte banned traffic lights and warning signs, including those instructing drivers to give way or stop.

Only two rules remain – drivers cannot go above 30 mph, the German speed limit for city driving, and everyone has to yield to the right, regardless of whether it is a car, a bike or a mother with a pushchair.

Officials revealed there have been no shunts, bumps or pedestrian injuries in the month since the scheme started.

Previously, there was at least one serious crash every week and scores of lesser 'fender-benders'.

The scheme, based on the idea of 'shared space' from Dutch traffic expert Hans Monderman, will now continue indefinitely. The mayor, Klaus Goedejohann, said: 'Politeness pays – we have proved that.'

Peter Hilbricht, a police officer in charge of traffic planning, added that the main intersection generated about 50 accidents a year before the changes.
'The number plummeted,' he said. 'It has been a sea-change in German attitudes as much as anything else.'

The EU has subsidised similar programmes in seven cities across Europe. Exhibition Road in London has been due to become a 'shared space' for the last three years.

However, funding is an issue and the scheme is not expected to start until next year. One unexpected bonus of the trial in Bohmte is that the town is saving £5,000 a month replacing and repairing signs damaged through normal wear and tear or by vandals.

Source:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worl...ad-signs.html#

I came across a pointer online to this book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us).

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Q: So much of what you uncover about life on the road seems counterintuitive. Like the fact that drivers drive closer to oncoming cars when there is a center line divider then when there is not; that most accidents happen close to home in familiar, not foreign, surroundings; that dangerous roads can be safer; safer cars can be more dangerous; that suburbs are often riskier than the inner city; the roundabout safer than the intersection. When it comes to traffic why are things so different from how we instinctively perceive them?

A: I think part of the reason is it’s easy for us to confuse what feels dangerous or safe in the moment and what might be, in a larger sense, safe or dangerous. We have a windshield’s eye view of driving that sometimes blinds us to larger realities or skews our perception.

Roundabouts feel dangerous because of all the work one has to do, like looking for an opening, jockeying for positioning. But it’s precisely because we have to do all that, and because of the way roundabouts are designed, that we have to slow down.

By contrast, it feels quite "safe" to sail through a big intersection where the lights are telling you that you have the right to speed through. We can, in essence, put our brain on hold. But those same intersections contain so many more chances for what engineers call "conflict," and at much higher speeds, than roundabouts. So when what seems quite safe suddenly turns quite dangerous — will we be as well prepared?

Similarly, we might be reassured that that yellow or white dividing line on a road is telling us where we should be, but how does that knowledge then change our behavior, to the point where may actually be driving closer — and faster — to the stream of oncoming traffic? Accidents are more likely to occur closer to home. Mostly this is because we do most driving closer to home, but studies do show that we pay less attention to signs and signals on local roads, because we "know" them, yet this knowledge actually give us a false sense of security.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:29 PM   #2
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Germany also has the autobahn that had that multiple hundred car pileup did they not? the no lights/signs might work as a "scare tactic" at first, as drivers would be concerned by the sudden lack of signage where there used to be one, but as people get used to it and lazy I could see that causing a lot of accidents

"well there's no sign and there's never anyone at the intersection and since I'm in a rush today I may as well just zip thro-SMASH"
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:37 PM   #3
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Germany also has the autobahn that had that multiple hundred car pileup did they not?
Actually Germany has several autobahns, some of which have no upper speed limit. The safety record of those is comprable to many autobahns (expressways, motorways, whatever you call a highway) where there IS an upper speed limit.

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the no lights/signs might work as a "scare tactic" at first, as drivers would be concerned by the sudden lack of signage where there used to be one, but as people get used to it and lazy I could see that causing a lot of accidents
"well there's no sign and there's never anyone at the intersection and since I'm in a rush today I may as well just zip thro-SMASH"
That's the problem. In a typical red light/green light intersection you simply sail through assuming that nobody will get in your way. If everyone has to slow down and think about who else is in that intersection, the potential for someone to zip through and SMASH as you put it is lessened.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:53 PM   #4
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the 13,000 drivers who use the town every day
That's an awful small amount of traffic... that's like a side street in North Van or something.
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Old 10-20-2009, 03:33 PM   #5
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that book was a good read. he has a web site too, and it's worth visiting.

this is not a new idea. it was started by a dutch traffic engineer and seems to work.
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Old 10-20-2009, 03:36 PM   #6
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^ good point. It sounds like this whole town is just little roads with stop signs and maybe a few lights. Read my bit below about the highway in Kelowna, or any main road like that.

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Actually Germany has several autobahns, some of which have no upper speed limit. The safety record of those is comprable to many autobahns (expressways, motorways, whatever you call a highway) where there IS an upper speed limit.
Comparable yes, but of all the highways etc in BC/Canada, has there ever been a 200+ car pileup? I think not but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

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That's the problem. In a typical red light/green light intersection you simply sail through assuming that nobody will get in your way. If everyone has to slow down and think about who else is in that intersection, the potential for someone to zip through and SMASH as you put it is lessened.
Would the kinds of people who presently blow reds not be the ones blowing these intersections? If a red light isn't stopping this guy from going through, having nothing there certainly isn't stopping him. There's also the added downside that everything like this would essentially have to be treated as a 4 way stop/yield. Could you imagine trying to get through Van or down the highway in Kelowna like that?
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Old 10-20-2009, 05:00 PM   #7
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I think it may work great in certain areas, but as has been said 13,000 vehicles a day is very low volume. I am not sure this would do much for congestions as it may make some intersection near impossible to cross.... Maybe a great idea for smaller towns or subdiv... Mind you I am just assiting the City on a crash at an uncontroled intersection where the residents seem to think a stop sign is required..
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Old 10-21-2009, 08:36 AM   #8
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I remember the sheer terror of doing driver training in Regina in the old city area near Depot. All the side streets in the residential areas had no stop signs and you had to drive expecting that the other drivers may/may not yield. Really fun to do with the driving instructor and his clipboard ready to whack you if you covered the brake pedal enough to actuvate the brake lights. This was even more fun in winter with about 6 inches of ice underfoot and nice wheel ruts worn into them. Like being on railway tracks.

It made you a paranoid driver and worked ok as long as the other drivers obeyed the law. Locals knew what to do but non-Regina drivers were scarey.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:30 AM   #9
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It hasn't changed at all since you left.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:34 AM   #10
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I still have the clip board marks on my body!!!!
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Old 10-22-2009, 10:54 AM   #11
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I've read Traffic. Good read.

Upon examination "self regulation" does work, but I think it also depends on many factors, particularly traffic volumes. For one thing, streets in Europe tend to be narrower, which intrinsically slows people down. Furthermore, roundabouts work better than intersections for this sort of thing. Actually, intersections don't really work at all for larger traffic volumes!

I've actually noticed that I am starting to prefer roundabouts when I come across them... but I don't know how well they would work with really busy intersections.
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Old 10-22-2009, 11:58 AM   #12
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I think that there is a distinct problem when we try to cookie cutter apply Eurropean solutions to Canadian traffic problems. Some of the differences listed above apply but the biggest one is that generally the drivers there are much more skilled and the requirements for passing a DL test are much higher. They are also used to driving in much more demanding conditions. For instance, many Europeans grew up riding some sort of motorcycle for at least their early driving time. This makes them much more aware and respectful of MCs.

The much touted Autobahn's are great roads to drive on but their traffic management devices are numerous and real-time (Radio stations that broadcast traffic volumes etc weather warnings, reactive billboards...). They have fewer crashes for many reasons, but the ones they have are usually horrific and fatal. High speed does that. They also know that if they speed even tiny bits over the limits on the side roads, they will be nailed for huge fines. As far as roundabouts work...I grew up driving in New Zealand and have driven in Europe. Canadians don't seem to be able to grasp how to use them. An education programme is needed, along with the users actually paying attention to their driving and the other vehicles using them, and waiting to use them.
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:34 PM   #13
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I agree, we don't have the driving culture here to successfully implement something like this.
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Old 10-23-2009, 07:03 AM   #14
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As shown on CHEK TV, we have a culture here that thinks it's OK to steer with your knees while texting in heavy traffic, with your head down, on a freeway.
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