The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver. Part II: Brainstorming Protective Measures

little-girl3Upon reading the World Streets article of 25 Oct. on ‘The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver’, Dr. Mah Hui, a city councilman in George Town Malaysia, commented:

It is very interesting and promising proposition which i can agree with substantially. But suddenly you break off when you just made the point that its more effective to design the roads to slow down vehicles. Do you have section 2 to suggest what types of designs have been used and might work?

In Penang, our council is using speed tables to slow down cars with limited success partly because it’s not well designed as I see the motorists and especially motor cyclist speeding up and crossing the speed tables at over 30 kph !  Even  with better designs how do we reduce their speed over stretches without the tables?

Regards/ Mah Hui

Oops. You are so right Ma Hui. I admit I was being a bit lazy in that first blast, but as luck would have it I have given this quite a bit of attention over the years and have had a  chance to observe both better (less) and worse (more) treatments in cities around the world.  And while I am by no means a traffic engineer, what I can offer this morning is a quick shortlist as it comes off the top of my head and memory, and with more than a little help from US Institute of Transportation Engineers Traffic Calming Library (, along with an article just in from Partners for Public Spaces by Jay Walljasper entitled  “How to Restore Walking as a Way of Life”.

And now, in to the answer to your query, starting with a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture:


  1. Clarify and make widely known areas of the city in which traffic is being slowed
  2. Clear Entry Zone indications to slow speed in designated area – not just signs but also innovative street architecture at entry points which clearly get the message through to the entering motorist
  3. Create a policy of Traffic Cells (restricting car movements between adjacent zones)
  4. Geometric redesign of roads and streets
  5. Reduce number of traffic lanes on wide streets
  6. Narrow traffic lanes
  7. Eliminate long straight lines/perspectives
  8. Reprocess smooth uniform surfaces that favor speeding
  9. Convert one-way streets to two-way (See
  10. Replace mixed traffic lanes with reserved lanes for public transport and eventually cycling
  11. Create protected cycling lanes
  12. Speed humps
  13. Speed tables (longer then humps)
  14. Painted speed humps (visual messaging)
  15. Pavement stripping
  16. Street narrowing (real)
  17. Visual street narrowing (Trompe-l’œil )
  18. Overhanging trees and utility posts
  19. Horizontal curvature of street
  20. Weaving sections
  21. Raised intersections
  22. Make crosswalks more visible
  23. Raised crosswalks
  24. Roundabouts/Traffic circles
  25. Chokers (narrow street by extending sidewalk or widening center strip. Also called deviations, serpentines, reversing curves, twists, and staggerings)
  26. Reduce length of crosswalks
  27. Place deliberate bottlenecks that drivers are obliged to move around
  28. Using parked vehicles – whereon one side changing side at frequent intervals
  29. Speed humps, tables and other impediments (work with fire departments and emergency service)


Electronic measures to slow traffic:

  1. Add traffic lights
  2. Convert traffic lights to four-way stop signs
  3. Remove traffic lights (Replace with roundabouts of different strategies)
  4. Optimize traffic light timing (slow waves)
  5. Traffic cameras
  6. Give pedestrians head start at traffic lights



  1. Draconian law enforcement
  2. Very high penalties for abuse
  3. Create a Street Code (in case of accident driver must prove innocence, othewise pay all legal costs and penalties if found guilty)
  4. Make widely known the concept of Shared Space
  5. Create and Protect Play Streets
  6. Safety in numbers
  7. Invite other slow speeders (cycling, pedestrians) into shared street in a visible and abundant manner
  8. Introduce counterflow cycling (going against main traffic flow)
  9. Anything that favors eye contact (low speeds but also orientation of both parties.
  10. “Real signage” (i.e., the “sign” is not something you read but something communicated by the architecture of the road)
  11. Improve road designs at bus stops
  12. Traffic wardens
  13. Children at Play signs
  14. Publish detailed accident statistics
  15. “Name and shame” in event of accident
  16. Slowth – the many advantages of going slow
  17. Expand participation and leadership role of public health experts


That gives us one for each week of the year. Far from perfect but as an informal brainstorm  it should give our readers a start on this important issue. For more information on any of these specific measures, cagey use of Google and Wikipedia will take you a long way.

But once you have your vision, strategy and the leadership in hand, what you really want to do next is turn to the experts – the leading edge of thinkers and practitioners working with these approaches hands-on.

# # #


Unfortunately there is one more dangerous winkle that still needs to be resolved, and that is speeding by motorised two wheelers. But that will be a topic for another day.


# # #

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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3 thoughts on “The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver. Part II: Brainstorming Protective Measures

  1. Thanks Chris. Very helpful. I have gone in and taken advantage of your comments.

    But the whole thing gets so long and troubled, that I am afraid we may lose sight of the fact that we have to use some smart combination of all this because “normal measures” will not do the job faced with the high incidences of anti-social behavior in the driving population.

    Or in other words, “people” are not “normal”.

  2. Already in the last century (!), in Sweden and the Netherlands several pilots were conducted with ‘Intelligent Speed Adaptation’. An ISA system consists of a ‘Global Positioning System’
    (GPS) to determine the car’s position, and a CD-ROM, in which the road
    network and its speed limits are stored.
    ISA systems can be distinguished in the way the reaction is given to
    exceeding the speed limit. There are systems that, in one way or the other,
    warn the driver; it is, after all, the driver that determines the speed driven.
    Other systems intervene and limit the vehicle’s speed.
    The system leads to an estimated reduction in accident victims from 25 to 30% in the Netherlands.
    for more information on the trials coducted in Sweden and the Netherlands: report in dutch with a summary in english.

    But it takes time to change our habits, so it was not implemented at a larger scale. But in Australie they tried it too in 2008: The Victorian Government will soon begin testing a device that can electronically slow a car using satellite technology.

    And some news from the UK from 2013: UK fights EU bid to introduce speed limit devices

    As always, there is a lot of resistance against measures to make traffic safer, as there always is a lot of resistance against change.


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