Monday, November 10, 2008

The limits of limits

No shocker here.

When it comes to speeding, many American motorists don’t worry about safety. They just worry about getting caught.

Those are the findings by researchers from Purdue University who surveyed nearly 1,000 motorists about speed limits and driving habits. They found that many drivers are cynical about the safety benefits of driving within speed limits, and many think they can drive safely while speeding as long as they won’t get caught, according to the report in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour.

Speed limits and enforcement are not the answer to excess speed in our neighborhoods. Design speed is. Take advantage of driver's self-interest and make it uncomfortable to drive fast. Here's a bit from Newton's own City Traffic Engineer Clint Schuckel in a Globe West article last week about student-designed traffic signs in Needham:

In Newton, the idea is to actually make drivers a little uneasy about going too fast.

"I think the goal of traffic calming is to make a driver uncomfortable without making them unsafe," said Clint Schuckel, Newton's traffic engineer. "We want to encourage people to slow down physically - such as a raised intersection or design a road to make it feel more narrow, less forgiving."

Narrower. Less forgiving. Slower. Safer.

1 comment:

Richard Layman said...


In my own blog and writing, I frequently make this same point. And therefore I argue for more widespread use of pavement types such as Belgian Block to provide physical, visual, and aural cues to drive more slowly. I will add a link to your blog on mine.