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November 20, 2006

Is driving safer without traffic signs?

traffic signs

Right now in Europe, several cities are testing a counter-intuitive idea...that removing all of a town's traffic signs can actually make driving safer. The theory is that the thicket of traffic signs lulls drivers into a false sense of security...you don't check for oncoming traffic if oncoming traffic has a stop sign, you trust that they'll see the sign and obey it. But if you don't know what the hell might happen at the intersection, you'll proceed with caution.

So the European Union is trying out the theory in 7 cities, towns and rural areas, pulling out traffic signs and stop lights, erasing highway lines, even removing no parking zones. Proponents of the plan attending a conference called "Unsafe is Safe" in Frankfurt last month say things are going well...drivers are both safer and more courteous.

But not everyone is convinced. Detractors worry that removing traffic signs could turn well-ordered western European driving into something like this intersection in India.

There's an article about the idea (in English) in the German Spiegel magazine.


Posted by Chris Spurgeon at November 20, 2006 11:16 PM


That Indian Intersection looks brilliant.

Traffic flows smoothly, everyone ends up in the right place, and when there's a buildup of cars waiting, they all band together and bully their way out at once. There's safety in numbers

Posted by: neil at November 23, 2006 12:31 PM