What Would You Say?
Last week I received an e-mail from a young lady who was a student at a university in eastern Canada. She was involved in a traffic safety program on the campus that aimed to make it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. She said that they had posted a number of new signs and painted some crosswalks but the drivers largely ignored them and drove the way they always did, which wasn't courteous to other types of road users.
Would I please point her to some research or advice on how to have drivers conform to safe driving practices?
My first thoughts were that had I known about a truly effective method of accomplishing this I would have used it and that method would have become popular everywhere. Collisions, injury and death would be avoided and everyone would be a courteous, defensive driver.
Instead what I see is a collection of efforts by many agencies, government and non-government, that have some influence over drivers that want to be safe. I say want to be safe because we are all human. Some of us want to be safe as much as possible, some as much as it is convenient and some who just don't care about anyone else at all.
Is it safe to say that we all bend the rules to some extent when it suits our purposes? So, how do we convince drivers to want to be safe all the time?
I think it must involve enforcement because there has to be a penalty for those who will not choose to do so on their own.
There must be education because although we would all like to think that we are better than average drivers it is a fact that many of us have only a basic grasp of traffic rules and defensive driving practices.
Finally, there must be engineering because there are things we have not done correctly or have learned to do more effectively with regard to the construction of the traffic environment.
What ideas would you pass on to this woman if you were able to? Instead of just being a driver, be the person in charge of drivers and highways.