1116: "Traffic Lights"

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VanI
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby VanI » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:21 am UTC

cptjeff wrote:Seriously, in DC, the roundabouts are at 8 way intersections, with some frontage roads thrown in on top, just to add to the confusion. Anytime I'm near one while in a car one I feel like digging Pierre L'Enfant up and desecrating the body in some way.


DC has very few roundabouts, most are traffic circles. In roundabouts, vehicles within the circle have explicit right-of-way to continue or turn off, while entering vehicles must yield. DC traffic circles (I'm specifically thinking of the ones along Mass Ave NW) tend to have controlling lights, and in the case of Dupont, separated lanes for cars going to different outlets. The efficiency and simplicity of roundabouts significantly dwarfs that of traffic circles.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Red Hal » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:36 am UTC

There are a couple of hybrids in use in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe; Turbo roundabouts (so called because of their shape) and traffic-light-controlled roundabouts to handle peak traffic when one route is by far the most used (other routes would never have a chance to enter.)
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby nomadiq » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:14 pm UTC

As a current Boston resident, along with Randall, I can attest to the fact that he may be referring to any number of intersections in the Boston area. I'm always amazed at how few accidents happen in Boston. I think its because the confusion that is sowed by the traffic "rules" and "instructions" and the way people respond to them means everyone moves very slow and cautiously just to stay alive amongst the chaos and inconsistency.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby orthogon » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:49 pm UTC

Before we continue, can we just clear up something: what colour is the middle light in a set of traffic lights?

Surely 99.99% of native English speakers world would describe that colour as "orange" in any other context. And yet for some reason it's always referred to as "amber" or "yellow" when it's a traffic light. I can accept "amber" as a kind of technical term reserved for the traffic-light context, but in that case why not "ruby" and "emerald" for the other lights? I know "orange" is a recent addition to the language, dating only to the 16th Century, but then traffic lights are, I think, more recent.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Mild Lee Interested » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:04 pm UTC

When I first moved to my current Australian city about 10 years ago, we had a truly awsome traffic managment system on the main bridge crossing the river South of the city centre.
Depending on the time of day, a mechanical crash barrier would move across to change the center lane direction from North to South (or back the other way) to allow for peak hour. This barrier invariably showed signs of distress. Frequently, it was missing entirely.
Forget all this messing about with lights and roundabouts. A solid metal barrier REALLY weeds out the distracted drivers...

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Random832 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:30 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Before we continue, can we just clear up something: what colour is the middle light in a set of traffic lights?

Surely 99.99% of native English speakers world would describe that colour as "orange" in any other context. And yet for some reason it's always referred to as "amber" or "yellow" when it's a traffic light.


I don't think you are looking at the same lights I am looking at if you think it's more orange than yellow. Though there is a lot of variation. Many green lights I've seen are just this side of blue.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby orthogon » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:58 pm UTC

Random832 wrote:
orthogon wrote:Before we continue, can we just clear up something: what colour is the middle light in a set of traffic lights?

Surely 99.99% of native English speakers world would describe that colour as "orange" in any other context. And yet for some reason it's always referred to as "amber" or "yellow" when it's a traffic light.


I don't think you are looking at the same lights I am looking at if you think it's more orange than yellow. Though there is a lot of variation. Many green lights I've seen are just this side of blue.


Aha, I think you might have a point. In the UK I would say they were orange, but from what I can tell it seems that in the US they are very much more yellow. However I can't be totally sure as I couldn't find a convincing real photo of a normal US traffic light on amber. In stylised cartoon versions they seem to be depicted as unarguably yellow, but this could be because reality is unrealistic. I have actually driven a few thousand miles in the US but apparently never noticed the colour of the middle light. (Possibly I didn't notice because the sequence doesn't include the red+amber phase, a topic which could justify an entire thread on its own).
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Felis cattus diabolicus » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:01 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Before we continue, can we just clear up something: what colour is the middle light in a set of traffic lights?

Surely 99.99% of native English speakers world would describe that colour as "orange" in any other context. And yet for some reason it's always referred to as "amber" or "yellow" when it's a traffic light. I can accept "amber" as a kind of technical term reserved for the traffic-light context, but in that case why not "ruby" and "emerald" for the other lights? I know "orange" is a recent addition to the language, dating only to the 16th Century, but then traffic lights are, I think, more recent.

Because they are, erm, dark yellow…
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby danix » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:10 pm UTC

bothunter wrote:I thought "hook turns" were a standard way of driving here in Seattle... Of course, we do it without signaling and without warning.


Try Mexico City. :lol: Ah, the mastery of not giving a schnit and even backing up on the hook turn street ... so that it "looks" like you were on the street you're turning into, instead of doing an illegal hook turn.

Tucatz wrote:Clearly you've never been to the United Arab Emirates. The roundabouts are sheer mayhem here. Not a day goes by that I don't curse the Europeans for introducing them to the Emirates.


Same here. Leon's mega-roundabout had to be converted to an actual multi-level interchange because crashing there was very, very common. Mexico City? Most roundabouts were wiped out on arterial roads, the "eje vial" systems and even the one in Periferico Sur. Though the thing that replaced that roundabout was ... interesting.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby cantab314 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:34 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:I think actually the main reason they build roundabouts is because it obstructs traffic flow. They want to slow traffic down, and speed limits aren't a good way since they are ignored by most motorists.
I came across a residential street in Reading which has a small roundabout about halfway along its length - with two exits.

Oktalist wrote:It may or may not stop the traffic any quicker, but after the traffic has been stopped it should keep it stopped for longer, to give you time to get across.

At traffic lights that exist only as pedestrian crossings (as opposed to intersections), of course the traffic will never be stopped unless the button is pressed.

It is a widely believed fact that you will have to wait longer if you press the button multiple times.
I'll second this. I've come across an intersection where the pedestrian "green man" will only appear between the traffic stopping on road A and starting on road B, not when it's just stopped on road B and is about to start on road A.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby bmonk » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:29 pm UTC

Kaden wrote:On my written driver's test (in Wisconsin at the time), one of the questions asked what to do if you got to an intersection and the light was flashing red. One of the possible answers was "wait until it stops." :roll:

EDIT: Typo.

A (possibly apocryphal) law from Texas/Kansas/Somewhere says that, when two trains meet at a crossing, they shall stop, and neither shall proceed until the other is gone.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby apple4ever » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:45 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:So I try to drive defensively, and I think about what to do if people 6 cars ahead of me make a mistake.


I drive offensively, but I'm always looking as far ahead as I possibly can- including partially entering the other lane if possible if I can't see. I'm always looking at side streets. I'm always planning what I'll do if car stops suddenly or pulls out. Its called situational awareness, and few people have it.

I try to stay 4 seconds behind whoever's in front of me, and if the guy behind me gets too close I slow down.


That's exactly the wrong response to take. They are getting close because you are going to slow. You need to either speed up, or let them pass. Slowing down only exacerbates the situation, increasing the chances of an accident.

I never understood people's insistence that the speed they are going is just fine for everybody behind them. People on the sidewalk have no problems letting people go by them, but put them in a car and its IDONTCAREIMGOINGTHISSLOW. It doesn't help speed limits are set way too low. People should just pull to the side and let the faster cars past them.

I have no problem passing on a double line if I think its safe.

People get frustrated with me when I drive, because I keep letting other drivers intimidate me into letting them get one carlength ahead while I get one carlength behind. They want me to be braver and show everybody I meet that they can't get away with anything.

I figure on an average trip it might cost me 5 to 10 carlengths. Every now and then I get stopped at a stoplight that I would have gotten through if I had been more aggressive and been a few carlengths earlier.

It bothered me when I was dating. Girls would think I was timid when I drove carefully. "You let a Volkswagen intimidate you?" "I just didn't want to have an accident." The reward isn't just to get one carlength ahead. It's also potentially the admiration of a beautiful woman.


I would go insane riding with you. I only have a limited amount of time in this world, and I'm sure as hell not going to waste it behind the wheel of a car. Sometimes driving agressively doesn't get me any further ahead, but many times it does. I can cut 5 to 10 minutes off every hour of drive. That adds up.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby ggrohmann » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:00 pm UTC

Here you see an old east-german traffic light:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N1NKPTCaO8
It was replaced by a roundabout, which is also crossed by a tram line. :roll:

Many roundabouts in Germany have only one lane and a hill or bushes in the middle. Sometimes Truck or buses get stuck. A car chrash in such a roundabout causes traffic chaos in all streets around nearly immediately. I hate that crappy construction.

btw. what is a "french Advent wreath"? A roundabout with four burning citroens in it.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Draco18s » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:13 pm UTC

Re: Michigan Left:

A better way to do that, is the Jughandle.

Rather than creating a middle lane that does Weird Shit, it's like a standard freeway exit and overpass, only minus the overpass and plus a stoplight.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby adaviel » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:19 pm UTC

Randall missed the Alberta-style ones (sideways)

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(from http://tanasilverland.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/lethbridge-to-taber/)

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby adaviel » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:28 pm UTC

Red Hal wrote:Yeah, whereas in the U.K. they are simple and easy to use:

Spoiler:
Image


Like the Silly Isles roundabouts, perhaps - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scilly_Isles,_Surrey, http://goo.gl/maps/p1xLb

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby SpringLoaded12 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:16 pm UTC

When the light turns green, you go.
When the light turns red, you stop.
But what do you do
When the light turns blue
With orange and lavender spots?
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby TNine » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:05 am UTC

I think that the best part of the comic is the far right light--it changes positions sometimes, but its always red.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Random832 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:56 am UTC

Draco18s wrote:Re: Michigan Left:

A better way to do that, is the Jughandle.

Rather than creating a middle lane that does Weird Shit, it's like a standard freeway exit and overpass, only minus the overpass and plus a stoplight.


Except for the fact that it takes up lots of extra land, and you need four of them to cover all possible left turns.

And a U-turn lane isn't exactly "weird shit", it's only a thing because they frequently use an arrangement of two of them as the only possible way of going from certain roads to certain roads in the desired direction.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby llwang » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:13 am UTC

And I just took the written test today..

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby ijuin » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:44 am UTC

Random832 wrote:
Draco18s wrote:Re: Michigan Left:

A better way to do that, is the Jughandle.

Rather than creating a middle lane that does Weird Shit, it's like a standard freeway exit and overpass, only minus the overpass and plus a stoplight.


Except for the fact that it takes up lots of extra land, and you need four of them to cover all possible left turns.

Wouldn't four of them together constitute a "cloverleaf"? Those are pretty much de riguer at overpasses.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby VanI » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:53 am UTC

ijuin wrote:
Random832 wrote:
Draco18s wrote:Re: Michigan Left:

A better way to do that, is the Jughandle.

Rather than creating a middle lane that does Weird Shit, it's like a standard freeway exit and overpass, only minus the overpass and plus a stoplight.


Except for the fact that it takes up lots of extra land, and you need four of them to cover all possible left turns.

Wouldn't four of them together constitute a "cloverleaf"? Those are pretty much de riguer at overpasses.


No. Full cloverleafs have a total of eight ramps. Seeing as none of the ramps would U-turn or more, a four jughandle interchange would probably be a form of the windmill interchange, rather than a parclo (partial cloverleaf) of some kind.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby LtPowers » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:54 pm UTC

dp2 wrote:While you'll occasionally get a smashup in a roundabout, it's usually at much lower speeds and thus less deadly.


Not just lower speeds but also at better angles; no t-bone crashes, for instance.


Erzengel wrote:Where I work (San Diego, CA, USA. Cars on the right, roundabouts are rare) there is a roundabout at the entrance to the private parking areas. There's one parking area to the left for the apartment complex over there. To the right is the front of my office building. Straight across from the entrance is the back parking lot, where I park. As I exit from the back, go right around the roundabout to the exit, I have twice had to stop hard and honk REALLY ANGRILY at a moron who went left around the roundabout to get to the apartment parking lot.
Sure, roundabouts may be a slower speed, but if someone doesn't know how to navigate them, you end up in a head-on collision.


That sounds like poor design. Properly designed roundabout approaches lead drivers in the correct rotational direction.




Try this one https://maps.google.com/maps?q=the+diamond,+st+marys+pa&ll=41.428007,-78.561108&spn=0.006403,0.012199&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&channel=fflb&fb=1&gl=us&hq=the+diamond,+st+marys+pa&hnear=the+diamond,+st+marys+pa&cid=0,0,3642835919804651229&t=m&z=17(and as bad as it looks on the map, it's worse at street-level. Try coming in from the east and staying on PA-120.) And don't forget the railroad and creek passing through.


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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby dp2 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:13 pm UTC

cptjeff wrote:
Suralin wrote:I'm not sure how roundabouts could possibly be better than intersections. I despise the roundabouts here in DC and I swear it doesn't help traffic much at all, especially with bad drivers.


Google decided to route me through Washington Circle at rush hour recently, I think they thought it would be a funny little joke (in a slightly less sinister version of this). It was not funny.

Seriously, in DC, the roundabouts are at 8 way intersections, with some frontage roads thrown in on top, just to add to the confusion. Anytime I'm near one while in a car one I feel like digging Pierre L'Enfant up and desecrating the body in some way.

Now for the pedantry: Washington Circle is a traffic circle, not a roundabout.

http://www.alaskaroundabouts.com/mythfact1.html

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby darkwombat » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:26 pm UTC

apple4ever wrote:
I would go insane riding with you. I only have a limited amount of time in this world, and I'm sure as hell not going to waste it behind the wheel of a car. Sometimes driving agressively doesn't get me any further ahead, but many times it does. I can cut 5 to 10 minutes off every hour of drive. That adds up.


And yet, all the time you save by driving aggressively will not come close to the time that you (or I, if I am unlucky enough to meet you in an accident) would likely spend in recovery, surgery, and physical therapy resulting from that ONE time that you get it wrong and have a head-on with somebody else's vehicle. That's assuming either of us is fortunate enough to actually *get* any more time after an accident. No guarantees on that either.

Frankly, I'd like to retain the remainder of my natural lifespan rather than have it shortened by an aggressive driver, and I'm perfectly willing for myself, and you and/or anybody else to potentially lose the extra 5 minutes in order for that to happen. Nothing personal, and before you take offense, consider that aggressive driving conveys the same sentiment, but in reverse. I.e., "I'd like to save my extra 5 minutes and I'm perfectly willing for you and anybody else to potentially lose the remainder of your natural lifespan in order for that to happen." :)

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby jpers36 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:15 pm UTC

I don't know about the specific driving habits of anyone on this thread, but I've seen timid drivers make mistakes that were just as dangerous as those of the typical aggressive driver.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby J Thomas » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:35 pm UTC

apple4ever wrote:
J Thomas wrote:So I try to drive defensively, and I think about what to do if people 6 cars ahead of me make a mistake.


I drive offensively, but I'm always looking as far ahead as I possibly can- including partially entering the other lane if possible if I can't see. I'm always looking at side streets. I'm always planning what I'll do if car stops suddenly or pulls out. Its called situational awareness, and few people have it.


That sounds very good to me, except perhaps for pulling into the other lane to see. You have to be very careful to look into your blind spot....

I try to stay 4 seconds behind whoever's in front of me, and if the guy behind me gets too close I slow down.


That's exactly the wrong response to take. They are getting close because you are going to slow. You need to either speed up, or let them pass. Slowing down only exacerbates the situation, increasing the chances of an accident.


No. Lots of people think like you do. They believe that when the road gets too crowded they should move fast by getting closer and closer to the other cars. As if cars are a gas, and when they get more pressure they should increase their density. That would be fine if we had elastic collisions....

If somebody thinks I'm going too slow because I'm 4 seconds behind the car in front of me, then they're welcome to pass me and tailgate the next car ahead. I'll be 4 seconds behind them. But if they're tailgating me I need to go slower so they won't rear-end me so hard. If you think you can make me drive recklessly by threatening to have an "accident" with me otherwise, you're wrong. Rear-end my car and hurt me when I'm legally slowing down, and I'll sue. If you kill me my heirs will sue.

I never understood people's insistence that the speed they are going is just fine for everybody behind them. People on the sidewalk have no problems letting people go by them, but put them in a car and its IDONTCAREIMGOINGTHISSLOW. It doesn't help speed limits are set way too low. People should just pull to the side and let the faster cars past them.


I'll do that often on 2-lane roads. I don't want to go more than 5 to 10 miles above the posted speed limit, usually; why should I slow down the ones who want to go fast? It's between them and the cops whose primary job is to collect revenue. Local governments and police treat speeding tickets like a sin tax. It's wrong.

About the right speed limits, people tend to get upset when the death rate is more than about 0.1% per year from automobiles. Governments and EMTs and people who think about it tend to prefer that reduced to more like 0.01%, and there are fewer deaths when traffic is slower. It sounds like you'd like the rate to be somewhat higher, but I bet you'd still want it less than 1%/year. I don't have a big opinion on this myself except to note that tastes in death rates differ.

There are other things we can do to bring the death rate lower. At considerable expense we could put devices into cars that quickly test drivers for reflexes, alertness, etc. If you're too drunk or too sleepy or too emotionally upset the car won't start for you. We could have computer games for driving that encourage your situational awareness. Simulated other drivers making lots of mistakes *all the time* and unless you do the right thing quick you get smashed. If we get a baseline that shows people who play the game have fewer accidents, we could let insurance companies charge extra unless drivers show they played the game until they got a good score. An economist facetiously suggested that each car should have a long sharp spike attached to the steering wheel, so that a driver who ran into something would be impaled on it. He thought that would reduce the number of accidents a whole lot.

Speed limits aren't the only way to reduce the death rate, and they may not be the best way.

I have no problem passing on a double line if I think its safe.


I hope you're right.

People get frustrated with me when I drive, because I keep letting other drivers intimidate me into letting them get one carlength ahead while I get one carlength behind. They want me to be braver and show everybody I meet that they can't get away with anything.

I figure on an average trip it might cost me 5 to 10 carlengths. Every now and then I get stopped at a stoplight that I would have gotten through if I had been more aggressive and been a few carlengths earlier.


I would go insane riding with you. I only have a limited amount of time in this world, and I'm sure as hell not going to waste it behind the wheel of a car.


Perhaps everybody would be better off if you went fewer places in cars.

Sometimes driving agressively doesn't get me any further ahead, but many times it does. I can cut 5 to 10 minutes off every hour of drive. That adds up.


Maybe you are exceptionally good at that. On the freeway you can get that result just by driving 75 miles/hour instead of 65. In places with stoplights I notice that aggressive drivers usually get nothing. When the traffic is light I keep up with them easily. When traffic is heavy and everything slows down they usually get nothing but occasionally they get a stoplight ahead and I lose track of them. If a stoplight is one minute, do you think you get through 5 stoplights an hour you wouldn't otherwise? I doubt it, but I haven't done controlled experiments.

Driving in rush hour is miserable. I try to avoid it. But even if you're aggressive you'll probably at most get low-speed fender-benders. Possibly your car might be totaled, but you aren't that likely to kill anybody. Not like it's some big moral issue.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby willpellmn » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:47 am UTC

Tucatz wrote:Sounds like you live in Tipperary Hill in Syracuse NY. That's the only place I know of with an upside-down light.


What's the story behind this?

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Mr Q » Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:16 am UTC

apple4ever wrote:I drive offensively....


You know, I hope there's always at least half a continent between me and you any time you're behind the wheel of a car. Preferably also an ocean.

Please, lose your licence. Would be the best for everyone concerned.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Max™ » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:54 am UTC

darkwombat wrote:
apple4ever wrote:
I would go insane riding with you. I only have a limited amount of time in this world, and I'm sure as hell not going to waste it behind the wheel of a car. Sometimes driving agressively doesn't get me any further ahead, but many times it does. I can cut 5 to 10 minutes off every hour of drive. That adds up.


And yet, all the time you save by driving aggressively will not come close to the time that you (or I, if I am unlucky enough to meet you in an accident) would likely spend in recovery, surgery, and physical therapy resulting from that ONE time that you get it wrong and have a head-on with somebody else's vehicle. That's assuming either of us is fortunate enough to actually *get* any more time after an accident. No guarantees on that either.

Frankly, I'd like to retain the remainder of my natural lifespan rather than have it shortened by an aggressive driver, and I'm perfectly willing for myself, and you and/or anybody else to potentially lose the extra 5 minutes in order for that to happen. Nothing personal, and before you take offense, consider that aggressive driving conveys the same sentiment, but in reverse. I.e., "I'd like to save my extra 5 minutes and I'm perfectly willing for you and anybody else to potentially lose the remainder of your natural lifespan in order for that to happen." :)

Yeah, that all sounds fine, but I'd prefer less people drove at all, most people are not qualified in any way to be trusted with a 3 to 5 thousand pound piece of machinery capable of the sort of acceleration and velocities considered bog standard for a modern road vehicle.

Before the idea is put forward that I am suggesting myself to be an amazing driver, I've done some autocross, have a flawless driving record (even during the period I drove a taxi), and absolutely am not an offensive driver. While I would claim to be talented with my driving force pro and GT4/Enthusia, track driving, digital or otherwise, is nothing like day to day driving, never mind that computer opponents tend to be very predictable, while assuming other drivers to be predictable is a massive error.

Putting the speed at which you reach somewhere first when driving is a terrible mindset, leave that shit for the video games, please. I will make a point to avoid potentially slower vehicles, am aware of various issues in lane choices in the area I drive in, and so forth, but the number one goal is to get there and back while minimizing risk to myself and others, not to get there 5 minutes earlier than normal.

Frankly we'll all be better off if the automated cars take off and the restrictions for manual operation are made VASTLY more difficult, the requirements for obtaining a license are laughably inadequate compared to the risks involved.

I'd sooner trust a 16 year old who passed an arbitrary computer test and can perform a few basic driving maneuvers with a gun license than a general driving license, they'd be less dangerous.

Next time you get in a car and start it up, imagine yourself cocking the hammer on a .357, then pretend you're running around at 40 or 50 mph pointing it at people while you text and drink coffee.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby jjcote » Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:50 am UTC

Paulmichael wrote:
Sifle wrote:I have a Deuteranomaly (Green weak) color blindness, causing green traffic lights to look white. Only the actual traffic lights look white though. Images of, or representations of green traffic lights always still look green. I also live nearby an upside-down traffic light, where white- I mean green is at the top, and red is at the bottom.

I have the exact same thing! Luckily I can tell the white/green light apart from yellow and red. I never had a name for it before now, thank you. 8-)

Same issue for me, but in my case I'm pretty sure my condition is protanomaly (or protanopia)(i.e. red-deficient), which is somewhat less common. When I was a kid, I wondered why they were called green lights, and just sort of forgot about it until I found out in my 30s that I'm colorblind. Shortly after that, I learned that "WALK" signs are white -- I had always assumed they were green as well. Other "green" lights, like in advertising signs, do look green. And LED traffic lights look greener to me than the older ones with incandescent bulbs. When LED traffic lights first came out, it seemed to me that they were greener (to my eye) than they are now, maybe they worked to make them more similar to the old-style lights.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby alanh » Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:53 am UTC

To round up some of the comments:

Green on top: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipperary_ ... n_over_red Short version: Irish pride
Fewer controls means more safety: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_streets

Re: speed limits, it's obvious that lower speeds are safer. There's more time to react, stopping distances are shorter, and when impacts occur they're less severe. The problem is the assumption that lower speed limits result in lower speeds. People tend to drive whatever speed they're comfortable with, regardless of speed limits. Actually forcing people to slow down requires a level of enforcement that American drivers aren't willing to tolerate. So we play the game where a low speed limit is set, but only a tiny fraction of the violators get cited.

I really don't understand this. When Arizona had speed cameras on some of its freeways, there was considerable opposition and they ended up getting removed. So why the opposition to the speed cameras, and not the actual limits? Yeah yeah, I know about the "you're entitled to face your accuser and you can't face a camera""but what if someone else is driving my car and I don't want to identify them" "cops are better than cameras because they can catch other violations" etc. And you read Playboy for the articles. C'mon, they'd be just as unhappy to get a ticket from the live cop, but since the number of cops is very limited, in most cases they won't get caught. And the "cops are better than cameras" argument is just silly. The whole reason for the cameras is that there aren't enough cops. It's not a camera or a cop; it's a camera or nothing.

So why don't the same people vocally opposing the traffic cameras instead sponsor an initiative that requires all speed limits to be set at the 85%ile of free-flowing traffic?

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Max™ » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:49 am UTC

Anyone arguing in favor of traffic lights or speed limit changes rather than some way to reduce the spread of speeds in traffic is misguided.

It doesn't matter if 90% of people drive 50 mph, the one guy who goes around at 70 mph will be more dangerous than if everyone went 70 mph.


If I was going to push for a change of traffic laws it would be making it vastly more difficult to obtain a license, and much easier to get a self-driving car or access to mass-transit. 30,000 fatalities a year being considered a good year should be evidence enough that driving is not an activity most people are qualified to perform.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby VanI » Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:50 am UTC

Max™ wrote:Anyone arguing in favor of traffic lights or speed limit changes rather than some way to reduce the spread of speeds in traffic is misguided.


Except that there are a few cases where the actual speed of vehicles is irrelevant, only the limit, such as retirement communities where streets with <35 or <25 limits are legal to drive golf carts.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Max™ » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:49 am UTC

VanI wrote:
Max™ wrote:Anyone arguing in favor of traffic lights or speed limit changes rather than some way to reduce the spread of speeds in traffic is misguided.


Except that there are a few cases where the actual speed of vehicles is irrelevant, only the limit, such as retirement communities where streets with <35 or <25 limits are legal to drive golf carts.

In cases where the limit is similar to the range of speeds at higher limits, there isn't really the same problem.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:01 am UTC

Max™ wrote:Anyone arguing in favor of traffic lights or speed limit changes rather than some way to reduce the spread of speeds in traffic is misguided.

It doesn't matter if 90% of people drive 50 mph, the one guy who goes around at 70 mph will be more dangerous than if everyone went 70 mph.


There is more than one variable that matters.

If somebody has a head-on collision in front of you, and you are close enough and fast enough that you can't react in time and your car can't slow down fast enough, then it's not a two-car collision it's a three-car collision. We are better off if cars are far apart enough to stop. But the faster we go, the fewer cars we can have on the road and keep their distance, and that's nonlinear. To maximize the rate of safe travel, we would find the speed and inter-car distance on freeways that allowed the largest number of cars to pass a given point at a time, and then allow new cars to enter the freeway at no higher rate. When there were fewer cars than the maximum, they could go faster.

But Americans don't think that way! That would interfere with our freedom! What we want is a system that interferes with our freedom the minimum amount required by common sense. So we decide the minimum rules that cut the accident rate down to an acceptable level, and we figure that people who violate that minimum set of rules are the bad guys who are responsible for accidents so occasionally when we find one of them we punish him. Also, when there is an accident we try to find out whose fault it is and we punish him too. But since it costs insurance companies money to decide who was at fault, and they pay the same amount to the injured etc anyway, sometimes they just ignore whose fault it was and raise rates on everybody who got damages paid. So when we have more cars on the road than the road can support, they all slow way down. Instead of waiting to get onto the freeway, they wait *on* the freeway with their engines running. That's glory for you!

If I was going to push for a change of traffic laws it would be making it vastly more difficult to obtain a license, and much easier to get a self-driving car or access to mass-transit. 30,000 fatalities a year being considered a good year should be evidence enough that driving is not an activity most people are qualified to perform.


You are not thinking in terms of maximizing freedom. You are thinking in terms of a nanny-state that tries to make people do what it thinks is good for them. This is incompatible with modern political theory. Modern theory says that if you let people do whatever they want, they will try hard not to get killed. (Unless they want to die, which is their right.) So if we eliminate all traffic laws, people will be safer and traffic will be more efficient. If somebody *does* injure or kill you or your property, you can sue them in a private free-enterprise court. Present your evidence and prove it, and they will have to pay.

When I heard those arguments in detail it seemed to me that they were conflating two different things. On the one hand, when you remove all traffic signs then when people get into situations that look potentially dangerous they slow down and think. The argument is that when people slow down and think they are safer, and I think this is correct. It does not result in efficient traffic flow, though, and the places in europe where they have done that were generally designed not to be automobile friendly. When you find yourself driving on a street where people are riding bicycles in random directions and women are pushing baby carriages in your path etc, you definitely slow down and think, and likely you will pick a different route next time.

The other part of it was doing things like roundabouts which allowed better traffic flow without an authority structure. A stoplight tells you when to go or stop and in theory if you disobey you can be fined. With a roundabout you just try to merge into the traffic and if you do it wrong you have an accident. Nobody has to make you try to avoid an accident. So here's a system which is both morally superior and also it works better. But I think they went beyond the evidence. A crossroads is a problem for high-speed traffic. Somebody gets to design solutions. You can rank the solutions on their traffic efficiency and on their moral purity, and there is no particular reason to expect the two will always or usually go together. But still, whatever US traffic engineers do needs to fit US moral standards. If you are a traffic engineer and you try to make people do what you think they should do instead of what they want to do, they will get upset.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby hjordis » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:05 pm UTC

dp2 wrote:
cptjeff wrote:
Suralin wrote:I'm not sure how roundabouts could possibly be better than intersections. I despise the roundabouts here in DC and I swear it doesn't help traffic much at all, especially with bad drivers.


Google decided to route me through Washington Circle at rush hour recently, I think they thought it would be a funny little joke (in a slightly less sinister version of this). It was not funny.

Seriously, in DC, the roundabouts are at 8 way intersections, with some frontage roads thrown in on top, just to add to the confusion. Anytime I'm near one while in a car one I feel like digging Pierre L'Enfant up and desecrating the body in some way.

Now for the pedantry: Washington Circle is a traffic circle, not a roundabout.

http://www.alaskaroundabouts.com/mythfact1.html

I saw the picture of the typical roundabout and I was like yup that looks like the roundabouts in my city. Then I realized it IS one of the roundabouts in my city.
I'm currently learning to drive and I'm much more comfortable with a roundabout than a left turn into traffic right now. On the other hand, as a pedestrian I much prefer a proper stoplight at a busy intersection, and it seems like a roundabout would lead to long waits if the intersection is too busy. I suppose overhead walkways could be built for the first issue.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby Max™ » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:38 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Max™ wrote:Anyone arguing in favor of traffic lights or speed limit changes rather than some way to reduce the spread of speeds in traffic is misguided.

It doesn't matter if 90% of people drive 50 mph, the one guy who goes around at 70 mph will be more dangerous than if everyone went 70 mph.


There is more than one variable that matters.

If somebody has a head-on collision in front of you, and you are close enough and fast enough that you can't react in time and your car can't slow down fast enough, then it's not a two-car collision it's a three-car collision. We are better off if cars are far apart enough to stop. But the faster we go, the fewer cars we can have on the road and keep their distance, and that's nonlinear. To maximize the rate of safe travel, we would find the speed and inter-car distance on freeways that allowed the largest number of cars to pass a given point at a time, and then allow new cars to enter the freeway at no higher rate. When there were fewer cars than the maximum, they could go faster.

There is never a situation that should occur involving rapid traffic and a head on collision in front of you where you can't compensate for it, if that situation occurs regularly the road designer is at fault or you are at fault for following too closely.

If cars connected into train like traveling groups on highways with fully automated freeway driving systems you could pack far more cars together at a far lower rate of accidents than any human drivers could possibly manage.

But Americans don't think that way! That would interfere with our freedom! What we want is a system that interferes with our freedom the minimum amount required by common sense.

What I define as freedom and what people in America define as freedom is not necessarily the same.

You are not thinking in terms of maximizing freedom. You are thinking in terms of a nanny-state that tries to make people do what it thinks is good for them. This is incompatible with modern political theory. Modern theory says that if you let people do whatever they want, they will try hard not to get killed. (Unless they want to die, which is their right.) So if we eliminate all traffic laws, people will be safer and traffic will be more efficient. If somebody *does* injure or kill you or your property, you can sue them in a private free-enterprise court. Present your evidence and prove it, and they will have to pay.

Uh, I'm a socialist and an anarchist, as I said, what you think is freedom is not necessarily the same as I do. A government which doesn't protect the safety of it's citizens is a useless government, freedom to die is not freedom at all, and it is not worth protecting one persons "freedom to get killed" at the cost of everyone else's "freedom to not get killed", if we eliminate traffic laws people will not be safer or more efficient, that is absurdist extrapolation of the same sort of cockamamie BS which proposes "invisible hands" operating in "free markets", all of which are filled with falsehoods.

When I heard those arguments in detail it seemed to me that they were conflating two different things. On the one hand, when you remove all traffic signs then when people get into situations that look potentially dangerous they slow down and think. The argument is that when people slow down and think they are safer, and I think this is correct. It does not result in efficient traffic flow, though, and the places in europe where they have done that were generally designed not to be automobile friendly. When you find yourself driving on a street where people are riding bicycles in random directions and women are pushing baby carriages in your path etc, you definitely slow down and think, and likely you will pick a different route next time.

The other part of it was doing things like roundabouts which allowed better traffic flow without an authority structure. A stoplight tells you when to go or stop and in theory if you disobey you can be fined. With a roundabout you just try to merge into the traffic and if you do it wrong you have an accident. Nobody has to make you try to avoid an accident. So here's a system which is both morally superior and also it works better. But I think they went beyond the evidence. A crossroads is a problem for high-speed traffic. Somebody gets to design solutions. You can rank the solutions on their traffic efficiency and on their moral purity, and there is no particular reason to expect the two will always or usually go together. But still, whatever US traffic engineers do needs to fit US moral standards. If you are a traffic engineer and you try to make people do what you think they should do instead of what they want to do, they will get upset.

I don't care if average US citizens get upset about false-infringement of imaginary freedoms, there are better ways to do things which result in a universally safer and more efficient transportation system, there is no reason to value absurd "US moral standards" arguments over saving lives.

Roundabouts have an authority structure incorporated into the design, the authority is dictated by the presence of the central island, the queue structure at the intersection/entry points, and the design of the exit points are all a subtle but definite form of authoritative statements. They don't say "you should do this", they say "you can't do anything but this", and if you try to do otherwise you run into a curb.
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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby PM 2Ring » Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:28 am UTC

FWIW, in Australia, there has been strong pressure over the last couple of decades to change community attitudes to speeding and to driving under the influence of alcohol. We have had numerous graphic advertising campaigns to show people the kind of injury and destruction these crimes cause, and we've had much stricter enforcement, so the idea that it's ok to speed or to drive when drunk are much less prevalent here than they once were.

We've had mandatory seat belt laws here since the 1970s, random breath tests for alcohol (RBT) since the 1980s, and heavy use of speed cameras and radar units since the late 80s, early 90s.

The results speak for themselves. Despite a large growth in our population and the number of cars on the road, especially in urban areas, our road tolls have plummeted.

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Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:01 am UTC

Max™ wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
Max™ wrote:Anyone arguing in favor of traffic lights or speed limit changes rather than some way to reduce the spread of speeds in traffic is misguided.

It doesn't matter if 90% of people drive 50 mph, the one guy who goes around at 70 mph will be more dangerous than if everyone went 70 mph.


There is more than one variable that matters.

If somebody has a head-on collision in front of you, and you are close enough and fast enough that you can't react in time and your car can't slow down fast enough, then it's not a two-car collision it's a three-car collision. We are better off if cars are far apart enough to stop. But the faster we go, the fewer cars we can have on the road and keep their distance, and that's nonlinear. To maximize the rate of safe travel, we would find the speed and inter-car distance on freeways that allowed the largest number of cars to pass a given point at a time, and then allow new cars to enter the freeway at no higher rate. When there were fewer cars than the maximum, they could go faster.

There is never a situation that should occur involving rapid traffic and a head on collision in front of you where you can't compensate for it, if that situation occurs regularly the road designer is at fault or you are at fault for following too closely.


Agreed. Still, if you are following too close you will participate in any accident ahead of you. You are then at fault. Police concentrate on speeding and alcohol tests (and the occasional traveling through red lights) because they don't want to go to court and claim their judgement is better than yours. They want solid evidence on their side. A machine-generated radar result. A machine-generated breathalyzer test. For that matter a video showing you went through a red light. "Reckless driving" is a judgement call, easier to tack onto other charges when it's clear you are a lawbreaker. So tailgating etc tends not be be enforced but depends on the good sense of individual drivers.

If cars connected into train like traveling groups on highways with fully automated freeway driving systems you could pack far more cars together at a far lower rate of accidents than any human drivers could possibly manage.


I'm not sure that's a good idea. A deer on the road etc might cause big accidents. But no matter, if you could achieve fully automated driving that scaled well, without too many emergent properties, you could get a far lower rate of accidents even if you didn't pack more cars together. Then you could start gradually packing them closer together until you notice a bad result, and back off after that.

But Americans don't think that way! That would interfere with our freedom! What we want is a system that interferes with our freedom the minimum amount required by common sense.

What I define as freedom and what people in America define as freedom is not necessarily the same.


There's a viking proverb that goes "Nothing overcomes numbers". Americans increasingly believe in libertarian ideas, and if you want your result you have to get past that.

You are not thinking in terms of maximizing freedom. You are thinking in terms of a nanny-state that tries to make people do what it thinks is good for them. This is incompatible with modern political theory. Modern theory says that if you let people do whatever they want, they will try hard not to get killed. (Unless they want to die, which is their right.) So if we eliminate all traffic laws, people will be safer and traffic will be more efficient. If somebody *does* injure or kill you or your property, you can sue them in a private free-enterprise court. Present your evidence and prove it, and they will have to pay.

Uh, I'm a socialist and an anarchist, as I said, what you think is freedom is not necessarily the same as I do. A government which doesn't protect the safety of it's citizens is a useless government, freedom to die is not freedom at all, and it is not worth protecting one persons "freedom to get killed" at the cost of everyone else's "freedom to not get killed", if we eliminate traffic laws people will not be safer or more efficient, that is absurdist extrapolation of the same sort of cockamamie BS which proposes "invisible hands" operating in "free markets", all of which are filled with falsehoods.


Yes, and while the argument plays out it will be hard to go too much against those ideas, unless you can somehow reframe your story to avoid opposing them. On the other hand, if you can get the die-hard libertarians to agree that roads are inherently unfree and we should eliminate the road system and replace it with some sort of air traffic, you will have achieved a victory.

When I heard those arguments in detail it seemed to me that they were conflating two different things. On the one hand, when you remove all traffic signs then when people get into situations that look potentially dangerous they slow down and think. The argument is that when people slow down and think they are safer, and I think this is correct. It does not result in efficient traffic flow, though, and the places in europe where they have done that were generally designed not to be automobile friendly. When you find yourself driving on a street where people are riding bicycles in random directions and women are pushing baby carriages in your path etc, you definitely slow down and think, and likely you will pick a different route next time.

The other part of it was doing things like roundabouts which allowed better traffic flow without an authority structure. A stoplight tells you when to go or stop and in theory if you disobey you can be fined. With a roundabout you just try to merge into the traffic and if you do it wrong you have an accident. Nobody has to make you try to avoid an accident. So here's a system which is both morally superior and also it works better. But I think they went beyond the evidence. A crossroads is a problem for high-speed traffic. Somebody gets to design solutions. You can rank the solutions on their traffic efficiency and on their moral purity, and there is no particular reason to expect the two will always or usually go together. But still, whatever US traffic engineers do needs to fit US moral standards. If you are a traffic engineer and you try to make people do what you think they should do instead of what they want to do, they will get upset.

I don't care if average US citizens get upset about false-infringement of imaginary freedoms, there are better ways to do things which result in a universally safer and more efficient transportation system, there is no reason to value absurd "US moral standards" arguments over saving lives.


Americans *will* value their moral standards over everything else, until they switch moral standards. You have to take that into account. Ignoring it is like ignoring other traffic on the road.

Roundabouts have an authority structure incorporated into the design, the authority is dictated by the presence of the central island, the queue structure at the intersection/entry points, and the design of the exit points are all a subtle but definite form of authoritative statements. They don't say "you should do this", they say "you can't do anything but this", and if you try to do otherwise you run into a curb.


Yes, and somehow they want to think that doesn't count. Or there's the argument that if designing the roads is somehow a consensual process then it's OK. There's a sort of assumption that whatever is somehow already there can't be challenged. And there's the absurdist argument that nothing needs to be public, that private individuals will design roads across their own property and will inevitably learn to do so in an optimal way.

Some people go to extreme lengths in their search for a single coherent system that fits everything together.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.


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