An Attempt to Create Empathy in Drivers

One of the issues that continually bedevils the members of the Streetsblog Network is how to get drivers to slow down and pay attention.

bostonglobe.jpgPhoto by Michele McDonald of the Boston Globe via How We Drive.

Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book Traffic and keeper of the How We Drive blog, writes about one such effort in the community of Needham, MA. As the Boston Globe reports,
Needham is posting signs in school zones that feature a child’s
drawings and hand-written plea to "Slow Down!!! You May Hurt the
Future."

Vanderbilt has this to say:

Part
of me can’t help but to look at those “child-like” signs, meant to
engender feelings of empathy for the nearby children, and think they
almost say more about the drivers. We often hear about how children are
“unpredictable” and do things like cross at inappropriate moments, but
to look at the behavior of drivers through these school areas it is
they who seem to be behaving without the appropriate amount of control
and risk-awareness.

Do you think signs like the ones in Needham might trigger better
behavior in otherwise apathetic drivers? Or do you agree with one of
Vanderbilt’s commenters, who wrote: "These signs are more effective at
appealing to people’s better natures, but not everyone HAS a better
nature. We need bollards here in Mass."

Also today on the network: Transportation for America has a handy table comparing the House and Senate transportation stimulus proposals; Hub and Spokes reports on how stimulus funds might pay for transit operating costs in the Twin Cities; and The Overhead Wire has some thoughts on Obama’s sprawl pronouncement, which got the network so excited yesterday.

  • Does this work?

    In the U.S. it is standard practice for engineers to use “passive safety” in the design of urban roadways. Our roads are typically designed for speeds 10 or 15 mph faster than the posted speed limit.

    Who is to say a sign like this will do anything other than be a nice still shot for news reporters covering yet another car vs. pedestrian killing?

    I would rather that our urban roads are design to limit the speed of cars moving on them, and to encourage other modes of travel where appropriate.

  • Spokker

    I was driving 25 in a school zone the other day around 2-3PM. The SUV driver behind me honked several times, flashed her high beams, went around me, and flipped me off.

    I could only smile.

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