Friday, July 15, 2016

Have Traffic Laws Gone Mad?

Do These Laws Make Sense?

As engineers and police departments work to craft and maintain safe roads, people are sometimes left wondering why certain laws exist. Does this road really need to be one way? Does every corner need a stop sign? Are these annoying speed humps actually serving any purpose? In most cases, traffic laws are there for a good reason but in some cases, they are actually pretty off the wall. 

Crazy Traffic Laws

Some states have enacted laws that leave people scratching their heads. Some notable ones? 

  • In Eureka, CA it’s illegal to sleep on the road
  • In GA, it is against the law to drive through a playground
  • In Sag Harbor, NY, it’s illegal to undress in your car
  • In West Virginia, it’s against the law to eat road kill
  • In CT, it’s illegal to shoot whales from your car
  • In UT, there are birds that have the right of way
  • In MA, it’s illegal to drive with a gorilla in the backseat

Method to the Madness

While outlawing using the road as a bed sounds preposterous, statistics on traffic safety and road accidents demonstrate that most traffic laws are enacted for a good reasonLower speed limits on residential roads are not just arbitrary, they can actually save lives. One Swedish study found that after reducing speed limits, traffic fatalities were reduced even several years down the line. Keeping traffic moving at a safe, steady pace on residential roads can make the difference between a narrowly diverted accident and an untimely death.

Maintening Safety

Enacting appropriate speed limits is a great start but many studies find that speed limits alone do little to curb speeding drivers. Speed limits in conjunction with enforcement measures, however, can be powerful in creating safer roads and neighborhoods. Using speed limits in conjunction with road narrowingspeed humps, or speed indicator signs can ensure that the laws on your streets not only make sense but are adhered to.

Nature and Traffic Calming

New Season, New Roads

Every season has its own energy and each brings its own beauty to the landscape around us. In turn, each presents unique challenges  for safe driving, riding, and walking on local streets. From summer beach-traffic clogged roadways to autumn leaf covered lanes, and from snowy winter streets to wet spring pavement, every season’s roads are unique. The FHWA reports over 1 million crashes caused each year by weather related road conditions. Being aware of what to be careful for and what nature, and other drivers, have in store, can help you protect your roadsno matter the season.

Seasonal Challenges

Everyone knows winter driving  can be tough. Snow, ice, and slushy pavement cause 44% of weather-related crashes. Even savvy winter drivers with well equipped cars have to share the roads with many others who aren’t. Autumn brings changing weather, wet road surfaces, heavy winds, shorter daylight hours, and more student pedestrians and cyclists headed to and from school while spring often means wet or even slushy pavement. Rain causes 46% of weather related crashes while wet pavement causes a whopping 73% of such accidents. No season offers foolproof driving.

Mother Nature

Just when Mother Nature’s surprises seem to have subsided and beautiful sunny summer days lie ahead, new challenges are in store for drivers. More drivers are on the roads during the summer than any other months, increasing the probability of any one person being involved in an accident. In fact, July and August are among the highest of the year for fatal crashes. Perhaps part of the cause of this is that nature offers little traffic calming in the summer. In the fall, spring, and winter, the rain, slippery roads, and snow remind drivers of their limitations. In summer, when anything seems possible, caution can fall to the wayside.

Keeping People Safe and Aware

No matter the weather conditions and the traffic calming that nature has in mind, it’s the responsibility of cities to engineer roads that encourage safe driving. Whether that involves narrower roads, bicycle lanesspeed humps, or traffic circles, roads that are designed for slow driving are more likely to be safe for all those who use them.

Solutions such as speed display signs can be powerful tools to remind drivers to slow down and be alert to weather issues, or other temporary concerns, that may affect the safety of their drive. Mother nature can be fickle. Road safety shouldn’t be.