Friday, August 08, 2008

Feeling safe kills

From Book Review - 'Traffic,' by Tom Vanderbilt - Review by Mary Roach.
This basic truth — feeling safe kills — lies beneath many of the book’s insights. Americans think roundabouts are more dangerous than intersections with traffic lights. Roundabouts require you to adjust your speed, to merge, in short, to pay attention. At an intersection, we simply watch the light. And so we may not notice the red-light runner coming at us or the pedestrian stepping off the curb. A study that followed 24 intersections that had been converted from signals or stop signs to roundabouts showed an almost 90 percent drop in fatal crashes after the change.
I have often thought that the driver zigzagging from one lane to another in an attempt to shave a few seconds of his drive was safer than the one obediently following the car ahead of him. Perhaps there's something to that.

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