Monday, August 02, 2004

Safer, more dangerous roads.

I saw "Psy-ops to calm traffic" on Boing Boing, and it reminds me of the last two places I've worked. Both have been in office spaces with landscaped grounds and roads that curve and twist for no good reason.

This struck me immediately as half-thought or totally brainless. Roads with lots of curves are perceived as more dangerous because they are more dangerous. People will drive slowly on them, but that doesn't make them safer.

Consider when they get icy. Roads that are safe only when driven slowly are now too hazardous to drive at all. Rain, fog, fatigue, kids, pets, and other in-car distractions, these all are things that cannot be completely controlled, and they all keep drivers from performing at their best. Adding to the problem by narrowing the road is a bad idea.

The article states that removing the road's divider line reduced accidents by a third in Wiltshire. I wonder if these techniques will continue to work when the drivers get used to them. Familiarity breeds contempt, we were taught in driver's ed.

Lastly, I wonder if there will be other psychological effects of these psychological tactics. What's the effect of making people feel more afraid? Maybe it really will keep more of them alive, or maybe it will just shift the "accidents" to stress, heart disease, and so on.
Post a Comment