Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Wyoming displays traffic death totals on highway safety signs

I'm intrigued by the idea of sensor networks and other counters and displays of relevant information in the public space, be it bike counters like in Arlington County (and many cities in Europe) or potentially the display of information on water and air quality ("Park bench air monitoring station at Smithsonian National Zoo and city sensor networks").

Another way to do this is in online dashboards, although I sometimes question failures in the quality of the information provided ("Does the focus on big data mean we miss the opportunity for better use of "little data": Part 1--Road Condition Data as an example of failures in presenting data (Information Design)").

Yet another example is information presented within office buildings on various environmental metrics ("A Measured Approach to Going Green: IBM “Green Sigma (TM)”: Consulting Offering to Help Clients Reduce Energy and Water Usage," IBM).

According to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle ("Wyoming electronic signs highlight highway deaths"), the Wyoming Department of Transportation is using the freeway sign active information displays to present information on traffic fatalities.

Photo: Wyoming DOT.

From the article:
You might have already seen this staggering statistic on electronic message boards across the state: 25 fatal crashes have happened on Wyoming highways since July 15.

As of Thursday, there had been 73 fatalities so far this year.

“The message in all of this is that a third of our fatalities this year have occurred in the last 30 days,” said Gregg Fredrick, the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s chief engineer.

“It’s a sobering message, and it’s not a message that we want to see out there. We don’t want to see any fatalities on our highways.
It turns out that many other states do this too.  Nevada does it, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, and likely others.  Texas, being so big and populated, has over 2,000 traffic-related fatalities each year ("TxDOT Signs To Regularly Display Traffic Death Numbers").

While only a small proportion of the population makes behavior changes based on information and logic ("The healthy choice:n ow behavioral factors create influential health campaigns," Deloitte), it's still powerful.

Note that a few weeks ago I was traveling from Virginia across the 14th Street Bridge and there was a similar message about the WMATA SafeTrack program advising people to consider other transportation options, but I wasn't in a position to be able to get a photo.

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At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with these is that they cause traffic slowdowns because the average driver doesn't have sufficient skills to read 3 lines of text and drive at the same time. I've noticed this particularly in Maryland, where such message boards are common, and usually display some generic message rather than anything useful.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Yep, I think this is an issue everywhere, but yes, I first noticed the problem on I-95 in Maryland. Very aggravating.


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