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Transportation Science

Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature 579

An anonymous reader writes: Traffic engineers had a problem to solve: too many pedestrians were getting hit by cars while using the crosswalks at intersections because they didn't know when the 'WALK' sign would change. Their solution was simple: implement a countdown timer. Countless cities have now adopted these timers, but it turns out to have an undesired consequence: motor vehicle crashes are actually increasing at intersections where the countdown timer is used. Researchers think this is because pedestrians aren't the only ones who see the timers. Drivers see them too, and it provides them with information on when the light will change. Then they anticipate the change by either speeding up to beat a change to red light, or anticipating a green light in order to get through before the pedestrians can move into the road. The researchers suggest finding some way to hide the countdown from the drivers, perhaps through the use of an audio countdown that would be difficult to hear from inside a car.
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Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

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  • by fellip_nectar ( 777092 ) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @08:22AM (#47367491)
    The driver should only score half points...
  • Economy (Score:2, Funny)

    by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @08:24AM (#47367507)

    The solution is to create a system that makes it profitable to generate a system with 0 deaths and the shortest travel times from random points A to B.

    What the article speaks about is not the problem, it's the symptom. Just as giving the fines money to local governments shortens yellow lights, a system must be found that gives money to the best solution. Which should be easy, as we know how to identify the better solution among the existing ones.

    1 - Define rules of best solution.
    2 - Give money in direct relation to proximity to best solution
    3 - Wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @08:45AM (#47367641)

    When it is time to cross the crosswalk the underpants gnomes jump out and steal your underwear, they then run to the other side of the road and furiously wave them at you yelling "Come and get them you scaredy chicken!" Then they put the underpants on their head like a roosters comb and tuck their fists into their armpits to mimic a chicken walk. So you run across the road to beat the living daylights out of the gnome and the gnomes immediately toss your underpants into the air and they make a run to the next available crosswalk, leaving you to scramble to pick up you underwear. After a short breather you realise you have successfully crossed the street.

    Sorry for the troll but I am having a bad day and have to keep myself in check I post here.
    I knew the underpants gnomes were useful for something.

  • by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:09AM (#47368255)

    Easy fix for this. Just make sure that as soon as the light turns red, big steel spikes come up from under the road to stop or pierce any car that might try to outwit the system. Oh, and on both sides of the street to ensure that real high-speed idiots will be caught on the other end.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @12:18PM (#47369403)

    Yeah, I've heard these.....waiting for a mocking bird to lead some poor blind soul into traffic.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas